Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What the Cube Tour Signals for You

I hope that the significance of the Cubify/Cube tour has hit home with everyone and anyone interested in owning a 3D printer.

It can be stated in one word.  Confidence.

I want you to imagine that you have created a product that must accurately move in 3 different directions while laying down a precise filament of plastic layer after layer.  Then imagine packing up some of these machines and taking to the road.

At each stop, a crowd is expected.  They have only one goal in mind.  And, that is to see if the machine you have designed and manufactured is good enough and reliable enough to be worthy of your hard earned dollars. In order to prove that ALL of the machines must be set up and working.

It takes a great deal of CONFIDENCE in the product for a company to put themselves out on a limb like that.  What gives 3D Systems that confidence?

First, this is a factory built system.  The user simply takes it out of the box and starts printing with very minimal or no setup.  That is a very significant fact.  Unlike my RapMan and other RepRap machines, which rely a great deal on the building skills of new users, this machine is to be built by people that know EXACTLY how it should be built.  This adds to the precision of the machine in every respect.  It also inspires confidence that it is a very well built system.

Secondly, they have a big wall, I assume the display they had at CE, that has cubicles holding a dozen or so Cube printers.  They run all day long, every hour that 3D Systems is open.  I have seen them personally on my visit to 3D Systems.  This means that 3D Systems has firsthand USER knowledge as to the reliability of individual machines.  They would NOT be making this road trip if the Cube printer was inherently unreliable.  Their experience, is seems, gives them confidence that the road show machines will be equally reliable.

Thirdly, they much have confidence that the Cube printer can hold up under the stress of travel.  They aren't carrying the printers around in a heavy, soft riding limousine.  They are traveling in a relatively small, light car that is going to pass through at least some road vibrations and shakes for a LOT of miles.  The printers have to be loaded and unloaded repeatedly.  They have to be set up, fired up to print at each and every stop.   And, that print must be perfect if the road show is to have any positive impact on sales.

I've seen the Cube and picked one up.  It has a very solid feel.  I've seen them carried around from place to place in the factory for demonstrations.  Obviously, their experience at carrying the Cube around must have inspired them with confidence that the printers can take repeated loading, unloading and printing on the fly.  That is impressive.

Finally, and this REALLY impressed me, they are not sending out a full team of support engineers.  In fact, one of the people going on the trip is to be selected via a contest.  The winner has probably never even seen a Cube, much less operated one!  This means that 3D systems is confident  that using the Cube is incredibly easy.

The bottom line, then, is that the mere consideration of the Cube Road Show demonstrates a solid level of confidence that the Cube is up to the task of impressing those that show up to see it.

And, having seen it in several situations at the 3D Systems headquarters.  I am just as confident as they are.   I can hardly wait for the road show to show up in Washington, DC!

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