A fascinating press release from 3D Systems describes what appears to be a whole new product line: Cubify. Is it a 3D printer? Yes. Is it 3D modeling software? Yes. Is it an online service? Yes. Whew! Several announcements bundled into one!
3D Systems is to formally announce this product in a few days at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show. We're glad to see 3D Systems taking the jump into the consumer space by appearing at this show, since a great many more people will see 3D printing and more than likely there will be major media coverage. Here's what 3D Systems says in their press release:
Cubify.com combines coloring book simplicity with cloud gaming excitement to deliver a vivid 3D create-and-make experience through a fully integrated, fluid interface. With intuitive 3D apps, rich 3D printable content libraries of games, puzzles and collections, Cubify.com turns any mobile device, tablet or Kinect® into a powerful, digital canvas that unleashes creativity and brings ideas to life in 3D. Compelling content creation, capture and customization apps make it simple and fun to personalize creations and Cubify them at home on a Cube™ 3D printer or have them Cubified using our online 3D printing service. Now everyone can unleash their creativity and earn money by marketing their own 3D creations or by developing new apps for Cubify.com.
A short video offers some hints of the apparently new 3D printer used by Cubify, which at first glance appears somewhat similar to the Up! personal 3D printer. There are precious few details about this clearly very comprehensive service/software/product and we're anxiously awaiting more information. This move directly challenges several other industry participants' businesses, including Shapeways, Sculpteo, Autodesk, Tinkercad, Origo and many others, while strongly leveraging their giant 3D print services business. Here's what we're wondering:
- What are the specifications on the Cube™ 3D printer? How does it compare with other options? We presume it's assembled, but how easy is it to physically operate?
- How does the "make money with your designs" work?
- Will the design software work effectively on all platforms, which is quite a challenge to create?
- How well does the 3D scanning component work? Will it generate adequate models or will lots of tweaking be required?
- How will 3D print service charges compare with the alternatives?
We don't know the answers to those questions yet, but probably we'll find out in the next few days.