Having no idea where 3D Systems is in terms of the development and testing of the Cube 3D printer, we have to look for whatever clues are available to us.
And, for now, that means exploring every nook and cranny of Cubify.com. It turns out that if you enter a zip code on the Community Page that it takes you to the Cubify Store. Here is a partial screenshot of the store.
Remarkably, it's already stocked with around 450 items.
To be sure, this is going to grow well into the thousands in a very short period of time. So, the current organization is probably going to undergo some significant changes as the offerings grow. While there are a few bugs and bumps in the road when trying to use the store right now, it's certainly off to a good start and shows great promise.
Currently, the basic organization allows one to search by Type, Price and Top Five Accounts. Each of these categories has an "ALL" option.
Interestingly enough, this is very similar, on a very basic level, with the search system use by mega-successful B & H Photo, my favorite photo products reseller. I hope this is intentional and that the designers are familiar with the search organization used by B & H Photo because, in the end they are going to need to refine their current categories if the site is to truly enable us to hone in on exactly what we want.
For now, however, the current system is a good start and quite easy to use allowing us to narrow our search well enough for the introductory period.
But, I have spotted something that I hope they fix right away. And, that is setting some more stringent rules for those uploading items to require more complete descriptions. For instance, the description for the very first item in the above sample screen is simply "button". Now, that is perfectly OK if there are only a few buttons uploaded. But, is this a shirt button, a replacement button for some electronic device or button for a weapon of mass destruction. Once there are a few thousand buttons of various types this one is going to get lost in the noise.
On the other hand, right next to the button is an example of a model having a very useful description. It is described as an "ElastomatiK Rubber gun firing mechanism" which in the first case is right up my interest alley and in the second case very well described with several different images breaking down the construction.
Aside from demonstrating the need for more comprehensive descriptions and a future need for more comprehensive search categories these two items also demonstrate another important thing about the Cubify experience. One does NOT have to have a highly complex model to contribute something potentially useful to the Cubify community. A button is an extremely useful object! Yet, we are not limited to models having a single part. Nor, are we limited to completely finished items. The rubber gun firing mechanism, for instance, is meant to be an idea starter with the user deciding how that mechanism is to be used. That's pretty cool. And, I expect to see others contributing other parts that can be used to build a complete rubber pistol or rifle.
That is a far cry from the wooden rubber guns we put together as children that we used to shoot loops cut from automobile inner tubes!! Ahhh,,,, but, I digress! Back to the Store!!!
Aside from being able to download models for using in our own Cube 3D printers, the store offers images of 3D designs and products that can be ordered to be produced using professional 3D printers. Here, for example is an $8887.00 Palm Chandelier.
Aside from the fact that most of us will NOT be ordering this particular object it does point out the wonderfully broad range of objects and products that will be available to the world through the Cubify Store. And, THAT is a good thing. Whether your budget leans more to the $5 items or $9,000 items, you should be able to find SOMETHING of both interest and usefulness.
This is going to be a fascinating experience.