Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Care and Feeding of the Cube 3D Printer (Video)

I've been wanting to create some better videos about the Cube 3D printer, itself.  This is the first attempt in that direction.

I have received a number of emails from users that have described this or that issue they've had with their Cube printer.  Some have had clogged heads and others have asked about the using the CubeStick glue to best effect.  This video covers the following topics...

Setting the Head Gap

Nothing will clog a 3D printer faster than when the print jet is hitting the print bed.  Yet, we need a very small gap to ensure that the first layer of filament is properly laid down on the print bed.  A TWO STEP process for setting the gap is demonstrated along with the paper I've found that works the best for me.

Applying CubeStick

One of the most challenging thing for me, when going to the new 2nd Generation Cube from the 1st Generation Cube was the different behaviors of the two different glues.  The first generation Cube used a heat activated glue and, frankly, was a LOT easier to use both before, during and after the print job.

I found that I was having a LOT of trouble getting parts to stick immediately after I'd cleaned the print bed.  And, I didn't realize that by trying to solve the problem by applying thicker coats of glue only resulted in transferring glue to the little rubber cap over the print jet... essentially gluing the flowing filament to the cap and not the bed.

Finding the proper gap helped.  But, finding a more reliable system for applying the CubeStick was the real solution.

A Tip When Changing Cartridges

For a long time, I created some problems for myself because I did not understand the correct timing for pulling on the filament when removing it to change cartridges.  When the Cube team explained the steps of the process that the Cube takes when removing filament, I came up with a visual clue for myself that allowed me to more easily go with the flow when removing filament.  The result is no more instances of broken filament inside the print jet!

The Correct Way to Insert the Cartridge

While teaching a 3D printing class at Freestate Challenge Academy, we had two different instances where the little metal contacts in the cartridge slot were broken as the student loaded cartridges.  From this experience, we learned two things.  (1) The correct process for inserting the cartridge and (2) how to solder in replacement contacts.  We will show the latter later.  But, for now, this video demonstrates the SAFE way to insert new cartridges to avoid the potential for breaking the contacts.

The Video...

This is the first of the videos that I hope to bring you regarding the Cube 3D Printer, itself.  As will be clear, I do not write a script.  So, you will hear some obvious errors... such as when I talk about lowering the head when I really mean the bed.  But, I'm trusting that the information is useful enough that you will forgive my slips here and there.  I have to do these videos and tutorials in the limited time that I have to do them.  So, perfection is NOT an option.  :)

I have made the difficult decision to use the YouTube "Monetize" option to help offset the costs of the investment required to bring a higher quality of videos to you.  I know that it's annoying. But, hopefully you will find some of the products and services advertised useful enough to click on at least some the ads.

That investment, by the way, included a new Panasonic HC-X920 video camera and new LED 100WA-56 / LED 200WA-56 lights.  I mention this because these products have only recently been introduced and some of my fellow members of the DPReview forums have expressed an interest in seeing how well they perform. 

If you have the bandwidth, try viewing the video in HD 1080p, to see why I feel that investment was well worth it.  I love this combination!

Well... with that said... here is my first 2nd Generation Cube video!


  1. Another fantastic video Tom. The tips you demonstrate will apply to the CubeX . We need to work on 3D Systems to get you a CubeX!

  2. Thanks Joestef!

    I'm really looking forward to being able to produce some more videos for the Cube community. :)

  3. Great video, Tom! Everything was clearly explained and I took lots of notes.

    Now that you've clarified setting the gap, have you had any experience with leveling the bed, or has that not been necessary? If so I'd love to see a segment on that some day.

    I'm waiting eagerly for the next video!

  4. Dear Sir, Thank you so much for all the blog posts. I had learnt more about my cube printer from you than by myself. I broke my cartridge pins on my printer. You had mentioned about soldering. Can you please give me some tips to get it done. Thank you - Vivek

  5. I'd like a segment on leveling the bed, too. The instructions in the manual leave a lot to be desired.

    1. When I got my Cube (2nd gen)the print bed was woefully out of level. Turned out that the metal plate attached to the bottom of the glass was a bit too large to fit into the magnetic bracket of the printer. The plate was not sitting on the top of the bracket but rather was getting jammed into the bracket side. I consider this a manufacturing defect. I solved the problem by CAREFULLY filing off a side of the plate. Actually, I took very little metal off; mostly just the paint. After this, the plate slipped into the bracket and rested on the bracket's top. This is important when leveling the plate in order to get repeatability of the leveling (and the gap too).

      Levelling was a pain and somewhat tedious. However, once it was done, I have not had to relevel the plate for the past three months.
      Steve the bee guy

  6. Deception
    Friends of cubify.
    I bought my Cubex duo hoping to print models like the ones I see on the site
    It turns out that my models are not equal to those of artists cubify.
    The finish of my models are terrible.
    I am disappointed by not realizing a finish as good as the artists cubify
    Is there any solution?
    Do they print their models in another printer other than an Cubex?
    Is there any method that after printing I can give a professional finish to my models?
    Please help me.
    Would not regret buying my 3d printer Cubex duo.
    Thank you all.
    Alexandre Nascimento (Brazil)

  7. Does anyone check this still? I need to see how to replace or fix the cartridge reader contacts on the printer Gen 2 itself, they broke off and the replacement part they gave me is just a lever switch that doesnt fit??

  8. The replacement should be a small set of two small spring contacts that are soldered onto the board. They need to make contact with the chip in the cartridge.