Once the machine was up and running, there are some definite pros.
- The machine is E.A.S.Y. to run. You hardly have to deal with leveling the plate, or setting the gap. Once you hit the button; it has just worked. No tangled filament, or random air prints.
- The print quality is great.
- The support material is brilliantly minimal, therefore leaving little residual marks on your print.
- The touchscreen instructions are very clear and you can be printing with little to no 3D printer experience in minutes!
- It looks great, very sleek and compact.
However, we came across a few cons:
- You are locked in to using Cube cartridges for filament. (3D Systems did generously give us four kid-friendly colors to get started.)
- The machine is not intended for tinkering, and therefore it is very hard to come up with solutions to problems when you are discouraged from taking it all apart and investigating.
We also came across some features that were different and will take a little getting used to:
- The build plate is magnetic - it just snaps in place.
- You need to apply special 3D Systems glue to the build plate before using - so there are no rafts - but there have been no issues with curling either.
- In order to remove your final print, you need to submerge the print + build plate in water, until the object loosens up and can be pulled off the plate. (In case you are wondering, a 30 oz Safeway O Organics animal cracker container conveniently happens to fit the build plate perfectly!)
Filament Flow Fail #1: After swapping out the neon green filament, we got the error message "Filament Flow Fail" on the touchscreen.
So now the Cube is back in action. This entire ordeal inspired continued discussion among the students around open source versus closed hardware and software. I think the expected thing to do in this case was to call the company, and they probably would have replaced the PrintJet, or perhaps the machine. But just by looking inside, we were able to diagnose and solve our own problems.