3D Printer Round-up: Cube 3D, Up! and Solidoodle - HotHardware

3D Printer Round-up: Cube 3D, Up! and Solidoodle

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The Up! Mini by PP3DP.com and Delta Micro Factory Corp. is another printer that is designed to be easy for consumers to use, as well as functional, with good-looking design aesthetics.  The Up! Mini offers a fully enclosed design that comes with all the tools and equipment you could ever need to setup your own little 3D print shop, right on down to the work gloves you'll need to observe proper safety precautions.



The Up! Mini has a full enclosure design that offers both acoustic and thermal advantages.  While printing, to minimize noise you can close the access doors (open here) and things quiet down nicely.  There's an added side benefit of more stable ambient air temperature around the print bed when these doors are closed too, which also speeds up warm-up time.  However, the printer does emit a loud, semi-annoying "BEEP" as indicators that the machine is warmed up and about to print.
Up! Mini 3D Printer
Specifications & Features
Model Manufacturing Material:
ABS / 1.73mm / White
Build Size:
4.7” x 4.7” x 4.7” / 120 x 120 x 120 mm
Layer Thickness Capability:
.02 / 0.25 / 0.30 / 0.35mm
Workstation compatibility:
Windows XP, Vista & 7, Mac
Connectivity:
Single USB 2.0 Interface
System Dimensions:
240(W) x 355(H) x 340(D)
Weight:
6Kg(13lb)
Power Requirements:
100-240V, 50-60Hz, 220W
What's in the box?
UP! mini 3D printer, power adapter, 1.5 lbs ABS, 3 perf-boards and tool kit
Delivery Time:
6-8 Weeks after receipt of full deposit
 
The Up! Mini's bundle is quite complete and all you need.

The Mini also comes with a 1.5lb spool of white ABS filament which is more than enough material for dozens of prints depending on model size.  This spool is roughly a $40 - $50 value.  Beyond that, setup is fairly straight-forward and this 3D printer is easier than most to work with, especially for the novice user.  The default print setting on the machine is .25mm or 250 micron, which produces very clean builds over all.




The rear of the Mini is home to a simple bulk spool holder and filament guide mechanism, both of which were obviously printed by another Up! 3D printer product; a casual nod to the RepRap tradition and self-replicating vision of old. The Mini comes with removable "perf boards" that are placed on its heated print bed, which offers a 4.72-inch (cubed) build area.  We do wish the build area was just a bit larger; closer to six inches would be nice. PP3dp does offer the Up Plus for $1299, which offers a 5.5-inch build space.

Leveling the print bed on the Mini proved to be a bit tricky for us on occasion, though it was only after the machine went out of calibration after a few successful prints.  PP3dp suggests you reference this thread in their forum should you have issues with print bed leveling/ Or, when in doubt you could always *gasp* read the manual.




UP! V1.17 Software

The Up! software tool strikes a nice balance of ease of use with its icon and menu-driven UI, along with customizable settings for print resolution (.2mm is as fine as you can print), base or "raft" height, infill, support structures and more. Stability supports and base constructs specifically come in handy with taller, skinny objects where toppling on the print bed can be a real nuisance.  That said, for some reason support structures can't be completely disabled.  It would be nice if PP3dp would include this in future revisions. All told, the Up version 1.17 software we felt was the best of the bunch, with just the right amount of configurability, but not so much that you find yourself tweaking every little setting to get things right, and an intuitive user interface that even first timers can work with relatively easily.
 

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First off, awesome video and awesome article. I've been waiting for this sort of review for a few years now. I was in the middle of doing some work and saw this post to facebook. I immediately hoped over to my laptop and watched the video.

Here's my take,

The UP! mini, and the club3d seem great if you don't really plan on doing anything over the top, but the Solidoodle wins in my opinion. From a typical user perspective, i'd choose the Club3d for ease of use, but when it comes to 3d printing, i'm not looking for easy. I'm looking for the challenge of building something magnificent, while still having the ability to make a 6 sided dice at the same time, which I feel the Solidoodle can deliver.

I'd also like to look at the level of ease for repair on each device. These things are mechanical objects, they are going to lose calibration, and eventually break. From the video it appears to me that the Solidoodle would be incredibly easy to repair. Heck, it looks so simple that I think I could build a functioning clone in a few weeks. The club3d looks like the most difficult, with everything encased in a smaller plastic form.

For me, the club3d is the most marketable item on this list. It's ready to go the second you are ready to use it. However, for a technical person, or someone willing to learn, the Solidoodle takes the cake with simple design, easy access in case of repairs, overall cost, and advanced settings for the inquisitive designer.

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I found the video very interesting and informative. Technology has always amazed me. Before you know it there will be a lot of people using these just like we use our regular printers. It's amazing to me that it can make a 3D item. I would love to see one in person and watch it make something.

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Very nice review! I know 3D printers are taking off but it's still unique to see this kind of review.

My Dad is a Jeweler and has been using 3D printing since 2002 to print out wax models of jewelry rather than shape it by hand for the easy cookie cutter parts of jewelry. He doesn't own the machine himself (which is a large industrial expensive model) rather he designs the item draws it with basic measurements then pays for the operator to translate his design into the software and print it. It saves him hundreds of hours a month!

However, can anyone tell m a GOOD reason for the average joe to want one of these? What useful items can be printed? Paper-weights? Keychains? Not really sure what useful things can be made. I'd rather buy kids toys than print them. Printing logos and mini buildings is hardly useful other than the fun of it. Anyone have 1 real good example of use?

Also does anyone know of a way to make money off one of these printers? What could be printed from one of these 3 machines that can be sold for a profit?

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One commercial use with which I am personally familiar is making custom cases for nano PCs such as the Raspberry Pi and the APC.IO; and I can see the average joe wanting a 3D print of a family photo, to be hand-painted in realistic colors, for his office desk.

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RTietjens:

One commercial use with which I am personally familiar is making custom cases for nano PCs such as the Raspberry Pi and the APC.IO; and I can see the average joe wanting a 3D print of a family photo, to be hand-painted in realistic colors, for his office desk.

Did you see the phone cases people made with the 3d printers?  I thought that was rather neat as well.

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RT, The possibilities are literally limitless. From custom phone cases, to that little piece of whatever that broke off and it would be great if you could replace it, the technology is very powerful. I think the next big innovation we'll have in this area is the input side of the equation. Say you need to scan something in to be able to print it, not just the exterior visible structure but modeling for replication of a complex design. It should be interesting to see where this technology takes us!

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Dave_HH:

RT, The possibilities are literally limitless. From custom phone cases, to that little piece of whatever that broke off and it would be great if you could replace it, the technology is very powerful. I think the next big innovation we'll have in this area is the input side of the equation. Say you need to scan something in to be able to print it, not just the exterior visible structure but modeling for replication of a complex design. It should be interesting to see where this technology takes us!

I was thinking about that earlier.  The ability to copy an item that is.  It really doesn't seem that difficult, as i'm sure it could be done using a calibrated measuring object and a Xbox kinect or something similar that can capture a 3d model. 

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@Sevags - Why would the average person "need" one of these things? As of today, there's no good answer. The technology is still young. Eventually though, people will be able to "print" replacement parts for just about anything though. Cracked remotes? battery covers? Whatever. You could also make customized containers for any type of project, etc.

As for profiting from one of these machines, I think that's a real possibility right now. Just in the holiday season, for example, what about offering customized Christmas ornaments? Making custom, 3D name badges, etc. The possibilities are there---it's all about imagining a product and marketing it well.

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Interesting comparison, but you have failed to mention that 3D Systems (Maker of the Cube 3D printer) are currently suing the Kickstarter startup Formlabs, on what are seemingly baseless grounds: (http://blog.makezine.com/2012/11/21/3d-systems-suing-formlabs-and-kickstarter-for-patent-infringement/)

For people who wish to support the rise of these technologies, it's really, really important to know what their money will be put towards, pushing technology, or squashing competition, let an informed decision be had by all.

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DrBlackadder, In general, I am totally indifferent to legalese like this to be honest. The level of bs and static about patent wars that we hear in the news these days is ridiculous and a waste of bandwidth in my opinion. We just pulled three low cost printers that we could get in for review coverage. I could care less about the patent wars but your insight is welcome here of course. We'll just stick to what we do here.

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