Used to working on my own cars, I was astounded by the difference between American cars of the time with what I saw when I first took the oil cover off the Mercedes engine to fine tune the valve adjustment.
Back then, there was simply NO comparison in terms of precision and design excellence.
In my previous American cars, valves had only a single spring The Mercedes valves had both an inner and outer spring. What's more, the American valve springs sat right on the head and the Mercedes springs rested on bearings.
I bring this up because curiosity got the best of me last night and I took a Cube 3 cartridge apart and, miraculously, put it back together again.
I had inadvertently clogged the nozzle of the cartridge while experimenting with some left/right gap tests and decided since the fault was my own, I didn't want 3D Systems to bear the cost of my mistake. So, with nothing to lose, I decided to see if I could find out what is inside.
And, like that with the Mercedes, this experience left me astounded by the design and the quality of every single component in the cartridge, from the extruder in the center of the hub to the parts inside the print jet tip. Eric Albert was the pioneer in taking the dismantle-rebuild journey and he had mentioned his admiration for the quality of the parts. And, since he runs a lab with CNC machine tools, I had a prior hint about the quality parts. But, even so, I came away with the feeling that 3D Systems seriously cares to bring the best to Cube users. The engineers and 3D Systems deserve an award for excellence based on the design of the cartridge alone. The Cube 3 cartridge is a significantly elegant design achievement on multiple levels.
The formerly clogged cartridge is back in service and working well. But, I will take it apart again once the filament is exhausted so that I can get images for you. Wait until you see the pictures. I know you will be impressed.
In the meantime, here is my take away for users.
Correct gap is CRITICAL
Remember, there are TWO Print Jets. Fortunately, the print jet tip is spring loaded. But, still, it's possible to manually gap one tip and have the other slightly rubbing against the print table. For now, make sure the LOWEST print jet, if there is a slight difference, has the proper gap.
If you hear a "Clicking" from the cartridge, STOP printing immediately.
If a print jet is blocked, there will be a clicking sound coming from the cartridge hub. Stop IMMEDIATELY if you hear that noise before the extruder chews up the filament in its teeth. The sound does not mean the cartridge has clogged. It just means the filament flow is blocked. But, if you let it go too long the cartridge may become permanently clogged. None of us want that and we, as alert users, can go a long way in preventing it.Apply ALL early firmware Updates Immediately
Experience with the 2nd Generation Cube, taught me that few companies have paid more attention to making life easier and better for consumer owners than 3D Systems through ever better firmware updates. We can expect a firmware update relatively soon if past history is any indicator. Apply it as soon as you can.It is obviously a goal for 3D Systems to take much of the responsibility for correct leveling and gap out of the user's hands. And, they came very close, right out of the starting gate. But, for now, we need to be pro-active in assuring that we do not block either print jet tip by making sure that we have manually checked the gap for both print jets. I'm sure this is not a permanent situation. But, for now, it's the wisest course of action.