As we mentioned the other day, 3D Systems was set to announce something big at CES and they did: plenty of details on the new Cubify system are now available. Cubify is a very comprehensive 3D printing "system" involving a new personal printer, 3D print services, an online community, a model repository, an API and online store. The most interesting aspect is that all of these diverse elements are tied together in one unified "system". Let's take a quick look at each of the key components to Cubify:
A new personal 3D printer, the "Cube" is available for USD$1299. It's an assembled unit with what appears to be a durable plastic case that's available in a wide variety of colors. It has only a single extruder, fed by a new easy-to-load cartridge system. The build envelope is moderately sized at 140x140x140mm, permitting printing of useful objects. It's 0.125mm maximum resolution should produce some excellent prints. Apparently there is a support material feature whereby supports are (presumably) added by software such that they can be easily broken off after printing. If this works it should enable successful printing of many more object geometries.
The online store appears to be a very comprehensive site presently marketing well over 400 different models for printing. The costs of some of the models seems very high, however, reaching USD$1000 or more. Many of the models are quite interesting designs and some are probably best printed on the associated service rather than your personal Cube.
The community is the piece that links most of the concept together. It looks like you join the community when you become a Cube owner or purchase something from the store. You become an "artist" when you upload something to the store - where you are allowed to sell your own designs and receive a hefty royalty.
The API is a computing interface that permits programmers to develop any number of applications to work with the Cubify environment. This would enable, for example, someone to create a new iPad application to design a model and upload it to Cubify. There are no apps yet, as they'll take some time for developers to work out.
The Cloud 3D Print services are not explicitly described, but are very likely links to 3D Systems extensive network of 3D print factories. Some of the models in the online store have a special button indicating they can be print at the Cloud 3D Print service.
Cubify is so broad in concept that there will be many implications for the 3D print industry for years to come. We'll be writing more about Cubify in the near future.