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3d Systems. Go. Away.

My patent related blog post dealt a lot with Stratasys, so I think I kinda neglected the other star-player in the 3d printing world - 3D Systems. It's time I remedy that. :)

So, recently 3D Systems announced a whole bunch of new printers, some of which happen to be in the consumer segment, which is our area of interest. Let's have a closer look at one of them:

There is a video ad posted by 3d systems for the CubePro available HERE. I took the liberty of taking a few screenshots in HD. So here they go:

This is their "cool" slogan for the CubePro. (Any similarity to the title of this post is purely coincidental.) Thank god 3d printing has finally become real. I thought I was dreaming these last few years.

After they tell us what awesome features it has (like built in WiFi, color touchscreen, triple extruders etc.), we get to see a really sped-up print of a vase. Here's some screenshots of said print:

Mmm. Yeah. Pro.

Now, here's a quote from their press release:

“We are proud to be the first to deliver professional quality prints to the consumer and prosumer, enabling educators, entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts to match their creativity with greater productivity,” said Rajeev Kulkharni, Vice President, General Manager, Consumer Products, 3DS. “The CubePro is the ultimate desktop 3D printer for the lab, workshop and office, compressing development cycles and increasing productivity.”

It seems I'm obviously not enough of a professional to understand the majestic quality of this print and their firstness in delivering it. In my first 3d printing vapourware post, I stated my concern that newer printer models care much more about various gimmicks than they do about actual print quality. The CubePro seems to be no different. And bear in mind, this is a "Sub $5000" printer (probably $4999.99), so not your average DIY printer.

Here's another quote from the same press release:

"Print more and faster with the largest-in-class print platform, high-resolution prints and quick set up. With prints 2.5 times larger than any other desktop prosumer and hobbyist printer (10.8” x 10.45” x 9.5” or 275 mm x 265 mm x 240 mm)."

Now I don't know which exact class that is. (It's probably the class of "Sub $5000 brand name printers with colorful screens and multiple extruders whose prints suck." Or some such prestigious category.) AFAIK there are RepRaps out there with the same or larger build sizes since forever. 

And now my favourite bulls#it category - CG prints. Like this one from their official site:

I just hate CG prints in advertisement, I can't help myself. What exactly are they supposed to be showing, how an STL looks when rendered?

But there is still more. Lets say you spend your hard-earned sub $5K on this printer. At the very least, you should have some decent brand-name support, unlike with the cheap-o RepRaps or other DIY printers. Well here's another quote:

"Warranty for Cube® and CubeX™ is 90 days and warranty for Sense 3D scanner is 1 year. Once shipped, the Cube® and/or CubeX™ and/or Sense 3D scanner cannot be returned for a refund or other form of credit."

Nice. This text appears on the Cubify.com site when you click to buy a printer. Although this does not say anything about the CubePro, I have little doubt in my mind it will be no different than with these two.

To sum it up: nice looking machine, very expensive, bad prints, expensive filament in few colors, bad prints, no selection of filament suppliers, multicolor prints which don't actually work right...

Somebody might say "Yeah, but that's probably not a production unit, it's a prototype!". That somebody definitely wouldn't be me because you only need to look at reviews for the CubeX to see what their production units are worth. Besides, it's their ad and they put it online, nowhere does it say it's a prototype. In the off chance that it indeed isn't a production unit whoever got the bright idea they should advertise it with such a crappy print (in the hopes nobody would ever click PAUSE on the video) should get fired immediately. (I know, it must have been will.i.am!)

This is no review, but I can't resist giving the CubePro a CCBR(TM) score of 0.5, and the prestigious
Rock Bottom medal, without even laying eyes on it.

And that's without even mentioning filament cartridges...

If you're interested in reading more about how "pro" printers compare to their more reasonably priced brethren, take a few minutes and read this post on +Jeremie Francois's excellent blog!
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