Thursday, March 29, 2012

Current Cube Tour Dates

In the Cube Tour announcement, the plan for the tour was to visit 25 cities.  So far,the tour schedule shows less than 25 cities.  And, hopefully, that means at great opportunity for you to insert YOUR city into the schedule.  At least it is worth a try.

I, for one, would like the team to make a stop in Wilmington, DE.  But, the only likely openings would be May 6 or 7 and it would make for some tight scheduling.  :(

However, the great news is that they will be in Washington, DC for TWO days.   I am really looking forward to seeing Adam again and meeting Kelly.  I'll try to get LOTS of pictures.

To Adam and Kelly, I know some awesome places to eat in DC and the surrounding areas.  Plus, I'd make a pretty fair tour guide at the end of the first day if you aren't completely exhausted.  Looking forward to seeing you!

Here is the published schedule so far.   As soon as we get more information on each top, we'll update this.

April 09 - Los Angeles, CA
April 10 - Los Angeles, CA
April 11 -
April 12 - San Francisco, CA
April 13 - San Francisco, CA
April 14 -
April 15 -
April 16 -
April 17 - Portland, OR  ( Oregon Museum of Science and Industry)
April 18 - Seattle, WA
April 19 - Spokane, WA
April 20 - Missoula, MT & Bozeman, MT
April 21
April 22 - Denver, CO
April 23 -
April 24 -
April 25 - Keystone, SD  (Mt. Rushmore)
April 26 -
April 27 - Minneapolis, MN
April 28 -
April 29 - 
April 30 - Chicago, IL
May 01 -
May 02 - Detroit, MI  &   Columbus, OH
May 03 - 
May 04 - Philadelphia, PA
May 05 - Boston, MA
May 06 -
May 07 -  
May 08 - New York City, NY
May 09 - Washington D.C.
May 10 - Washington D.C.
May 11 - Charlotte, NC
May 12 -  
May 13 - 
May 14 - Atlanta, GA
May 15 -
May 16 - New Orleans, LA
May 17 -  
May 18 - Dallas, TX
May 19 - 
May 20 -
May 21 -Austin, TX

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Cube's Astonishing Accuracy

As a former science teacher, I have an abiding interest in microscopy.  So, I have many of them around my workspace.  Among my favorites are low power stereo microscopes because few things are as useful when trying to analyze the performance of mechanical things.

I pulled out a 10x-40x zoom stereo microscope to try to analyze a phenomenon called Z-Axis wobble common the RepRap style 3D printers.  The wobble is not bad in my particular RapMan.  But, it is something that I want to try to eliminate entirely if I can.

Here is what Z-Axis wobble looks like in a printed piece.

Z-Axis Wobble Evidence

Notice that the edge is scalloped.  This is because the bed that held the piece wobbled slightly as the screws that raise and lower the bed turned.  One or more of the threaded rods has a slight bend in it.

Now, compare the edge on the above image with this edge under the same microscope at 40x.  Notice that it is perfectly straight with no scalloped pattern.  This piece was printed on a Cube.  At 40x the depth of field is poor.  So, just focus on the edge.

No Evidence of Z-Axis Wobble

It is evidence that the Cube's platform is very, very stable and that the alignment is virtually perfect.  My impression, when I compare the two Cube pieces that I have with the pieces I print with the RapMan is that the Cube is noticeably finer right out of the box.  The RapMan can print this fine; but, only after I solve the threaded rod wobble issues.

This next image, with the microscope set to 10x, demonstrates even more starkly just how accurately and uniformly the Cube prints.

Very Smooth edges from the Cube

To me, the above image is remarkable.  Just look at the walls and the uniform slope that was delivered by the Cube's print control system.  The layers are even and the edges straight.  I doubt that any extrusion printer gets much better than this.  (The indentations are the brick design patterns.)

You can be sure that once I get my hands on one, I will be this particular about analyzing the output that I am able to achieve.  And, I have the perfect STL for testing.  In the meantime, I will be working with the RapMan printer in an attempt to bring it to this level of print accuracy and smoothness.  I am sure it can be achieved.  But, it will mean some serious thinking and work.

The Cube, however, should come right out of the box printing just as we see here.  And, I am REALLY looking forward to having that experience.

I'm truly looking forward to the arrival of the Cube.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kelly Wins the Roadie Spot!

I'm guessing that Adam voted 5,623 times.  And, I don't blame him.  LOL!

Based on Kelly's submission to the Roadie contest, she will bring a spirit of creativity and fun to a long and potentially grueling road trip.  That is a LOT of miles.

Here is Kelly's winning video...

As a former video producer, I was impressed by her video and it clearly showed that she has the personality to complement the Cube in a very positive way.  Every one of the finalists would have been an asset to the trip and it's good to see that they will be appearing in cameos along the way.

The Adam & Kelly team is going to be a big hit!

Congratulations, Kelly!

Great Opportunity to test the Cube's Capabilities is running a contest that provides you with a great opportunity to push the limits of the Cube and to show off your work.

It's the Cube Test Print Contest

One of the sentences that is important; but, easily missed, is that the Cube prints in ABS plastic.  So, what does this mean for a designer?

First, your design should look good in a single color.  Secondly, I'd suggest designs that have details and features at around .5mm or larger.  This is an extrusion printer. And, while the detail can be quite good, very fine extended features might be a bit tough to print perfectly.

Based on my experience having a RepRap and examining the Cube, you are going to be very surprised by the quality of the print.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Talk about a TOUGH CHOICE!!

3D Systems wants our votes.

They need us to pick the roadie that will travel with Adam (At least I THINK it will be Adam) and the Cube Cube with the Cube on a 3000+ mile journey across the United States of America.

As far as I can tell there are three choices.  So, you would think it would be easy to choose one of the three.

It's not.

I could post the videos of the contestants here.  But, I would much rather have you go over to the Cube Roadie Selection page and vote for your favorite.

As old as I am, I don't think I ever had the opportunity to vote for a real roadie before!  LOL!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Cube Cube will be hard to miss!

There one thing for certain about the Cube Odyssey as it treks across the U.S.A.  It's going to be VERY difficult to miss!  LOL!

3D Systems just posted preliminary images of the Cube Cube by Galpin Auto Sports.

Check this out...

Hmmmm.... is it any mystery how Mad Mike got his name!  

Wait!  What if Mad Mike isn't the designer?  Does this mean that Galpin Auto Sports has MORE than one slightly "mad" employee???  If so, that is my kind of place!  LOL!

Kind of makes me wish I wasn't FAR too old for a road trip of that magnitude!  This is bound to be a fun trip meeting some fantastically creative and innovative people at each and every stop.

You see, I KNOW the kind of people that are going to be interested in the Cube.  You are people able to not only think outside the box; but, WAY outside the box.  (No pun intended? )  You are the kind of unique individuals that... well... think like Mad Mike and the Galpin Auto Sports guys.  As my granddaughters would describe you, you are FUN and SPECIAL!  :)

I was with a video game company over 30 years ago and I had the privilege of traveling the U.S. and Europe meeting our users... people just like yourselves,,, fun and special.  The memory of those contacts is still sweet after 30+ years.  Each time I think of the many wonderfully creative and enthusiastic people I met, a big smile spreads across my face.

The guys about to embark on that tour may have a little bit of clue as to how much fun it's going to be to meet people enthusiastic about what they can do with a 3D printer.  But, what ever they can imagine now is going to pale in comparison to the reality and the memories that they will carry with them for a lifetime.  And, those memories will be all about YOU.

So, give them a warm welcome when they come your way and, PLEASE, let me hear about your reactions as you see the Cube in action for the first time.  I might not be able to travel with them.  But, I sure do want to experience some of your excitement over what you can do with one of these wonderful printers.

Have fun guys!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cube in Oregon April 17th

Cubify has announced that the Cube Odyssey Tour will be at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portand, Oregon on April 17, 2012.

I hope the turnout is HUGE because the Cube printer is well worth seeing in action.  If any of you attend the event, I'd love to hear from you.

In the meantime, I want to show you another image that is almost mind-boggling to me.  But, it definitely points out one of the big reasons why I want a Cube 3D printer.

A Cube in a backpack

Aside from the fact that Adam, or whoever packed that bag, has a very unique sense of humor, as evidenced by the hand adorning the bag, this image of a Cube being carried around in a backpack with the expectation that it will work on arrival is pretty amazing.

In the past, one just didn't do this kind of thing with a 3D printer.  And, as evidence that the expectation of it working was well placed, take a look at this image taken at the Cube's destination.

It sure worked for Mad Mike of "Pimp My Ride"!

Now, this is a guy that has seen all kinds of fantastic machines!  That says something for the amazing Cube.

Love it!

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!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Cube Road Show Coming to YOU!

Recently, 3D Systems, the maker of the Cube 3D Printer, announced on the web site that they are taking the Cube on the road in, what else, a Nissan Cube!  (For some reason, I always associate that car with the style of Wallace and Gromit!  I wonder if they will be serving Gorgonzola & crackers!)

At any rate, the Cube Odyssey begins April 10, starting from Los Angeles, CA and heading east.  The list of stops is still in flux, so if you don't see your city's name on the list, be sure to go to the Cube Odyssey Page to let them know you'd like them to stop in your city.

The Current List of Cities Includes:
  • San Francisco
  • Portland
  • Seattle
  • Minneapolis
  • Chicago:
  • Indianapolis
  • Columbus
  • Detroit
  • Boston
  • NYC
  • Philadelphia
  • Washington D.C.
  • Rock Hill
  • Atlanta
  • New Orleans
  • Dallas:
  • Austin
  • Kansas City
  • St. Louis

The really cool news is that they are looking for drivers to join their primary driver, Hal.  Here's a video that explains the contest that they are running to find drivers.

By the way, I'm a real fan of the man in the video.  I met Adam Reichental on my visit to 3D Systems a while back.  He's amazingly insightful and creative.   On the one hand, I wish he were making the road show because they are coming to Washington, DC and it would be great to see him again.

On the other hand, he is an indispensable member of the Cube/Cubify team and we need him to be working hard to bring us the best Cubify experience!  Every conversation we had was focused on YOU and how to bring YOU a compelling and pleasant experience with your new Cube.