At CES this past week we noticed something very familiar in the 3D Systems booth: the elusive color CubeJet 3D printer.
It looks slightly different, but we have some concerns about a product that is shown - without being available for purchase - for THREE years straight at a major trade show. What gives? We spoke directly with product manager Tara Anderson, shown at top, who is the person responsible for putting the color 3D printer on the market.
According to Anderson, the CubeJet will most definitely be on sale sometime in 2016. She won’t provide a specific date, which might be wise considering the length of time since the machine was announced. Anderson explained that they’re not working towards specific dates, but instead working towards technical metrics - in other words, they’ll ship the machine when they get it working to spec, which is always a good idea.
But how can we be sure this will happen? Anderson explained that unlike in prior years, the CubeJet is actually working well and is currently undergoing an internal beta test. They’re also working towards doing an external beta test sometime in February.
The CubeJet is based on the older ZCorp technology, which involves color binder jetting of fine plastic powder. The prints will have to be finished by dipping them in something for solidification, such as wax or resin, in the same manner as ZCorp prints. 3D Systems will no longer sell a separate waxing station, but instead they will recommend one of many that are available separately.
One difference from the larger-scale Corp-Style machines is that the CubeJet will use only three binder cartridges (Cyan, Yellow and Magenta) instead of the usual five (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Black, Clear), so it’s possible the output colors might not be as perfect as that found in the larger equipment.
What’s caused all the delays? Anderson explained they’ve been working on a number of internal engineering changes that will enable the device to be suitable for office use - and cost. It’s designed to be used for low volume printing, say a few prints per week, and does not emit dust or noise.
While we don’t know the final release date of the CubeJet, we do know more about the price, which is said to be something in the USD$8-10,000 range. This is a bit more than previously announced for the CubeJet (USD$5,000), but still substantially less than the other 3D Systems color printers.
Via 3D Systems