Monday, July 7, 2014

Patience Will Be Your Own Reward

I received an email from someone that had placed an order for a Cube 3 and their invoice had projected the shipping date as July 7.  When he called support, he was notified that the shipping date had slipped to near the end of July.

They weren't complaining.  Just reporting.  Like me they are huge Cube fans and have multiple Cubes in a educational setting.  But, since they are hearing this, I know that others must be also.  Therefore, I feel the need to at least provide my perspective on the issue. 

No one is more anxious to have a Cube 3 in their hot little hands than me.  And, I am waiting just like everyone else.  But, I am urging patience to myself and everyone else that is on the waiting list to receive a Cube 3. 

The reason?  I've seen one in action... in person.  And, it's awesome!

A little review and comparison might help put this small delay in proportion.

My first 3D printer was a RepRap style RapMan 3.  The first Cube (version 1) was a radical departure from all previous 3D printers based on the RepRap concept.  It required a whole new approach to manufacturing for both the printer and the cartridge system.  Even the packaging required a radical new design.

The Cube 2 was a significant; but, incremental improvement over the Cube 1.  The manufacturing process was essentially the same and the only difference in the cartridge was the introduction of PLA as well as ABS.  The ABS cartridge was interchangeable in the Cube 1 and the Cube 2.  So, moving from the Cube 1 to the Cube 2 probably didn't involve many new manufacturing process changes.  In fact, I'm guessing that the biggest jolt to the assembly line was the deal with Staples which most likely significantly ramped up the numbers!

Having seen the Cube 3 at shows, I am ready to say that the Cube 3 is as radically different from the Cube 2 as the Cube 1 was to the RepRap.  Frankly, I find it hard to conceive of many Cube 2 parts that might be reused without modification in the Cube 3 design.  Virtually everything about the Cube 3 is revolutionary in such fundamental ways as to require whole new parts and manufacturing processes for both printer and cartridges. These differences have to affect suppliers as well.

Obviously, 3D Systems knows how to design smooth manufacturing processes for radically new products as proven by the success of the Cube 1's assembly line.  But, we shouldn't be surprised that initial delivery estimates might slip a bit with so many big changes to the manufacturing process.  And, then there is the issue of building up an adequate inventory of completely new cartridges while still manufacturing the older style cartridges.

Every single one of the new design changes for the Cube 3 are an improvement over the Cube 2.  Think of how many there are.  Here a just a few that come to mind:
  • Two print heads
  • Print Jets integrated into the cartridge assembly
  • A completely different mechanism for moving the filament into the print jet
  • Self leveling print table
  • Self gapping print table
  • Bigger print surface
  • Finer layer resolution 
  • Faster printing (2x)

I have seen the Cube 3; but, I've not used one.  But I, for one, am willing to wait a bit longer to take that next step if that is what it takes to guarantee that it's the best, most reliable Cube ever... which I am convinced that it will be... by multiple orders of magnitude!

When they finally start showing up on our doorsteps and we all get to actually see that smooth 70 micron print in action, then I'm sure all of us will agree that it was well worth the wait.

Microsoft has a habit of telling it's beta testers who feel a product is not ready for prime time that "Shipping is a feature".   That may be true.  But, it's also the philosophy that gave us the disastrous Windows ME, Vista and Windows 8!   Fortunately, 3D Systems thinks better of us than that and is willing to ship only when the product and processes are ready.  For that, I am thankful.

If you can be patient and let the Cube 3 arrive when the time is perfect, your patience will reward you with one terrific 3D Printer that you are going to love!


  1. 3d printers have really come a long way. Are the new 3d printers similar to the rapid prototyping process? I know the printers are on a much smaller scale, but is it the same idea? I love the idea that you can create something on a computer screen, then turn it into a tangible object.

    1. 3D Printing has come a long way. The new Cube 3 produxes much more refined parts than its predecessors. And, I recently learned of a Delta style 3D printer that is 8' tall! So we can truthfully say things are getting both bigger and better!

  2. I have also pre ordered the cube 3! Since I am new to the cube series and the there are limited still shots of cube 3 prints, would you say from your encounter with cube 3 that the x and y axis resolution is also improved over cube 2? I hope that cube 3 is capable of producing snap fit prints that can then be cast molded from more durable plastics. Or do you think my expectation to high for this type of printer?

    1. I'm going to step out on a limb and say that if thr prints are not perfectly accurate in release machines, it's not out of the realm of possibility that a few firmware updates would make it so. 3D Systems' engineers have proven that they don't stop with the release capabilities. They have consistently improved performance through updates.

      The Cube 3 STARTS in a great place. So, it is definitely going to get you VERY close,. You will still se ridge lines. But, fit should be excellent. What I don.'t know is how molding shrinkage fits into the equation.

  3. Hi Tom,

    I also purchased the Cube3. I'm from Spain, until early September did not reach the printer, but I have already put to work with design software and your tutorials I have been helpful. So I appreciate your dedication.

    Thank you very much.

    A greeting.

    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate it.

      Let me know when your printer arrives!

    2. Hi Tom,

      Have you received your cube3 yet? I think that 3DS has really dropped the ball on customer service for us early supporters. I pre ordered on May 20th and have received no apologies, update, or even a posting on the cubify site letting me know of any delay. When I called they said it should be soon but thats the most I can get from them. I understand that delays happen but am I the only one that thinks there is a lack of transparency on the cube 3? I'm trying not to get carried away but I also think that photo realistic imaging of prints on the build tray on the website is misleading to people. I don't have any interest in makerbot but cubify could learn something from their transparency they have with their customers over what the printer can and cannot do.

      I really appreciate your posts and had it not been for you I wouldn't have even considered the cube.

    3. Frankly, delays like this worry me a LOT less than the potential of releasing a product too early. Remember, we will have to live with the shipped version for a LONG time. So, there is no way tjat I want it rushed.

      I know the design and manufacturing team very well. But, I haven't even bothered to ask them the reasons for the delay. I simply trust them to do it right because I know they want to do it right.

      The Cube 3 is SUCH an improvement in usability over ANY other existing consumer 3D printer that I would HATE for the first few units not to be very nearly perfect. I want to write about the new things we can create with the Cube 3, not about fixes or work arounds.

      I'm geberally not a patient person; but, for the promise inhetrent in the Cube 3, I will gladly wait a while longer.

      However, it WOULD be nice if it shows up in the next few weeks since I'll be leading a 3D immersion class for the outstanding cadet of 2014 the first week of August and the teachers from our Youth ChalleNGe sites the second week, :)

  4. If I remember correctly, my Cube 1 was delivered some 4 or 5 months later than the first preorder date. Though I do tend to agree with 3DFan's assessment of the need for some improved communication to consumers who have pending orders, I have had good success calling the customer support line directly and obtaining their best estimate on the release date. And on a recent purchase of a set of Cube 2's at my work, one was defective right out of the box - and a replacement was sent quickly even as we returned the bad one - no hassles.

  5. Has anyone who's reading this blog and pre ordered a cube 3 received it yet?

    Maybe I'm impatient but I am waiting on this printer to take my invention from concept to prototype so that I can begin seeking investment to commercialize my idea. If the big wigs at cubify are watching....Please give us an update and a realistic date of when these are shipping, my future surely depends on it!

    1. I have not heard anything as yet. It is one thing to design a machine and another to take it to a fluid manufacturing process. So, while I would like it sooner, rather than later, it seems best to simply let all the potential hitches be worked out.

    2. I asked them on July, 17th, been told it should be 5 weeks delay, so let us wait till the end of August, otherwise, i will send one more email for pushing. :)

    3. I'm reasonably certain that it will ship before the end of the month of August. Whenever it is, you will be blown away by the print quality.

  6. I canceled my order and bought other 3d printer.... it is just unbelievable the lack of communication and the way that cubify handle it costumers.
    When doing more research I figure that the cubify software does not allow you to set up many 3d printing parameters to tweak the printer, so if you have and object that just not print well, it will never print well. This and the price of the cartridge maid me re-think and cancel the order.

  7. I'm truly sorry to hear that because I think you are missing out on an incredibly good 3D print experience. I sympathize with both customers and 3D Systems at this point. On the one hand you are anxious to get on with printing and would like better specifics as to the actual delivery date and on the other, each time they set a date, it invites more disappointment if they fail to meet it. But, in the final analysis waiting until the printer and software are perfect is the right thing to do for everyone.

    1. I see what you are saying Tom and agree to a point. The hardest thing is waiting beyond a given date and not knowing what you're waiting for...I would like for this blog to get back to discussing the incredible capabilities, tips and tricks for 3d printing, I just wish that cubify would share some actual print images so that we can make informed choices for ourselves about whether it continues to be worth the wait.

    2. I can understand that waiting is getting old. And, I, too want to have the new printer to see for myself what it's capabilities truly are. But, I can't blame the slowdown of the bog on the delay.

      I am up to my neck in 3D tutorials for YouthQuest and the cadets and have been for some time. The irony is that the deeper I get into teaching 3D printing the less time I have to simply randomly explore.

      But, I will take the time when the Cube 3 arrives. I promise you that. :)