Announced at this year's CES, the Cubify Cube 3D printer is now available for pre-order, and will be shipping at the end of this month. The compact 3D printer is the first model from Cubify, which is entering a budding CNC machine market largely dominated by the MakerBot Industries--though there's plenty of room for growth. Like the first MakerBot--the Cupcake CNC--the Cube can print single-color objects that are about the size of a cupcake. In the Cube's case, the maximum printable size is a cube 5.5 inches (14cm) wide.
But that's where the similarities end. Unlike the MakerBot, the Cube emphasizes extreme user friendliness, meaning users have access to as few moving parts as possible. Aside from a power cable, are no wires connecting the printer to a computer--the Cube primarily uses Wi-Fi to transfer designs to its print head, though USB transfer is also available. And while printable models are user-created, Cubify actually charges users for downloading designs from its Creations Store. Downloading the design for an iPhone case, for example, costs $10. Some of the more elaborate designs cost north of of $500, though some are pre-printed objects that the original creators will ship to you. MakerBot's models from Thingiverse are free. Additionally, the printed plastic comes in special cartridges, priced at $50 each. Cubify claims that each cartridge can print up to 14 mid-sized creations. With the MakerBot, $50 gets you a 1Kg spool of ABS plastic filament.
We haven't had a chance to test the Cube yet, so we don't know how user-serviceable it is, or whether it'll demand the same attention during printing and regular maintenance as our MakerBots. Based on photos from Cubify's Flickr page, the printed objects look fairly intricate, though at a resolution that looks comparable to that of the current MakerBot.
Cubify is selling its Cube for $1299, which includes 25 "free" designs to print. The MakerBot Replicator--still backordered for about three months--retails for $1749.