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

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News Posted: Wed, Dec 19 2012 12:41 PM
3D printing is a fascinating new technology and an exploding new market. The process involved is pretty basic actually. Heat up some plastic, and sort of like that Play-Doh Fun Factory you were so fond of as a kid, you extrude the melted plastic out to create objects of magnificence -- because you built it yourself...

It all started back in 2007 when the first RepRap machine was built.  The idea behind RepRap was to design a machine that could build complex parts in three dimensions using extruded molten plastic and that machine could also "self-replicate" or build a copy of itself.

Since then 3D printers of all types have emerged from the community, so we decided to reach out to a few of the more prominent names in 3D printing and do our usual round-up two step with them.

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Dorkstar replied on Wed, Dec 19 2012 1:53 PM

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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sevags replied on Wed, Dec 19 2012 2:49 PM

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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Marco C replied on Wed, Dec 19 2012 3:01 PM

@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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RTietjens replied on Wed, Dec 19 2012 4:47 PM

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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Dorkstar replied on Wed, Dec 19 2012 5:03 PM

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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Dave_HH replied on Wed, Dec 19 2012 8:14 PM

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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Dorkstar replied on Wed, Dec 19 2012 8:37 PM

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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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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Dave_HH replied on Thu, Dec 20 2012 7:00 AM

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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eunoia replied on Thu, Dec 20 2012 8:40 AM

.

...pending.

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Dorkstar replied on Thu, Dec 20 2012 12:14 PM

Patent war or no patent war.  This field is obviously going to be a dog eat dog field until someone breaks through as the go to manufacturer for 3d printing.  As soon as prices drop just a little bit more and the usability is proven, these things will start popping up everywhere.

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OSunday replied on Thu, Dec 20 2012 4:57 PM

Great Vid!

Loved the comparison between the 3 but I was definitely a fan of the Solidoodle over the other two. It had the best price and capabilities if one is willing to invest a little bit of elbow grease which I think goes hand in hand with the nature of 3D printing anyways.

I'm just wondering why the MakerBot replicator series of 3-D printers wasn't included or compared to these?

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danjay replied on Thu, Dec 20 2012 6:35 PM

Don't forget the Portabee!

http://portabee3dprinter.com

Under $500, sweet little machine

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MCaddick replied on Fri, Dec 21 2012 9:12 PM

Um, isn't the Y plane generally used to describe the height attributes of objects, at least in computer 3D space.

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Dave_HH replied on Sat, Dec 22 2012 4:47 PM

Not quite.  It's a little different when you're describing a 3D print area.  Here's a diagram....

 

 

A pictures worth a thousand words as they say.  Smile

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realneil replied on Sun, Dec 23 2012 9:23 PM

We used to use Z, X, and Y plus and minus coordinates in the aircraft industry.

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Oh the possibilities. Making my own action figures for my kids, based on their favorite game or cartoon character would be so cool. Instant art projects to paint your own person.

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Warsoul replied on Fri, Apr 5 2013 5:16 PM

Solidoodle 3 is reliable ? Because has i know the wont give warranty for their stuffs. It seem the best printer for his price and potentials. Their waiting time still 9 months ?

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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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