An Ode to the Now-Departed Cube

The CubePro, last in a long line of desktop 3D printers from 3D Systems

The CubePro, last in a long line of desktop 3D printers from 3D Systems

I’ve just noticed that 3D Systems discontinued their final Cube 3D printer earlier this year, a milestone of sorts. 

This particular machine followed an unusual path through its lifetime, ultimately being discarded by 3D Systems. 

It began its life in the UK, in the town of Clevedon, near Bristol, where startup Bits from Bytes developed the BFB 3000 in the 2009 period. In those days there were very few desktop 3D printers on the market, although there was plenty of experimentation. MakerBot was obviously dominate at the time, but BFB’s machines were highly regarded. 

There was a strong suspicion that desktop 3D printers might become a big thing, and this attracted the 

Then in 2010 industrial 3D printer manufacturer 3D Systems acquired Bits From Bytes and all their assets. At first it seemed quite successful. We visited their factory in the UK during this period and observed a large number of units being produced by the 70ish staff, with perhaps 200 machines being made and shipped per day. 

A BFB 3000 undergoing tests at 3D Systems' HQ in 2010

A BFB 3000 undergoing tests at 3D Systems' HQ in 2010

Along the way, 3D Systems made a number of changes to the machine design, first introducing the Cube 3D printer. There were a number of changes in the design, but users generally did not appreciate the requirement to use expensive proprietary material for the new machine. 

The machine went through a couple of design improvements, ending up with the final version, the CubePro. 

And sometime earlier this year, it simply disappeared from 3D Systems’ product lineup. 

This was really inevitable, as it was surpassed in function and price by countless other machines from other sources. The fundamental design, made in 2009, really didn’t make it in 2017, and the changes incrementally imposed by 3D Systems did not change anything fundamental, at least in the view of users. 

There is a milestone of sorts here as well. It means that 3D Systems’ product lineup now excludes all filament extrusion technology, leaving that field to others, most notably Stratasys. 

3D Systems is now a company of SLA, SLS, CJP and DMP - only.

Via 3D Systems

General Fabb

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has been writing Fabbaloo posts since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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