The Cube is the world's first home 3D printer. It takes five minutes to set up and costs just over £800, but should you buy one? Our reviews editor, Daniel Bennett, put the printer through its paces and created some rather fetching objects. Here's how it works...
1. Search for a design
Hundreds of models that you can print are available from Cube’s own site, Cubify.com. Or for a wider selection of 3D items that aren’t specifically designed to be printed on the Cube (but will work), visit Thingiverse.com. They’ll download as .STL files, which will then be converted by the Cubify software into .CUBE files.
2. Convert and build
First load your design into the program. Then adjust its scale or orientation. There’s a ‘heal’ button that will address any areas that are beyond the printer’s capabilities. The ‘build’ button then creates the set of instructions needed to create the item – at this point it will work out any support structures not included in the design needed to build the model. Then hit ‘Print’!
3. Glue and begin
The printer comes with a special glue that needs to be spread on the print platform in a thin layer. This enables the melted plastic to stick to the metal plate. The printer then lays down your design line by line. Instead of making everything solid, each design is hollow with a grid-like structure filling the gaps, making efficient use of the plastic-loaded cartridges.
4. Time to cool off
The design, like the vase shown in the video below, is built up by laying melted plastic down on top of the stuff that’s had a few seconds to cool and solidify. Once the printer is finished the metal plate descends and will need 10 minutes to cool down before it can be touched. The touchscreen then tells you when it’s safe to snap the finished article off the platform.
This vase took about 3 and a half hours to make, but we've sped up the video so you can see the whole process in just over a minute.
For our full in-depth review of the Cube, check out the new-look October issue of Focus, on sale now!