It does appear that 3D printing is a very sustainable technology with various applications and a massive potential user base.  This has now recently become closer to people, with Cubify and Staples starting to sell the Cube 3D printer online.

The Cube 3D printer works by enabling the user to design a three-dimensional product, and then send that design’s instruction to the printer, either via Wi-Fi from their computer or by via a USB stick.  The Cube then ‘prints’ the design by building up fine layers of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) or polylactic acid (PLA), both  are types of plastic, to form a 3D object. Although the printing materials come out of the cartridge hot, they quickly cool to form a hard resin.

Cube 3D Printer

The “plug-in-and-play simplicity” of the Cube allows anyone using it to start 3D printing as soon as they take it out of the box. (Almost the very definition of plug and play) UK Retailer Curry’s said. The printer comes with 25 free 3D print files designed by professional artists, and is also compatible with software for Windows or Mac OS. There are no cables, and the Cube’s Wi-Fi facility allowing users to send prints straight from the computer.

The Cube cost is rather high at $1,569 and it is available in 5 colours: white, green, silver, blue and pink. The cartridges are recyclable and compostable, and come in 16 different colours including vibrant and neutral colours, metallic silver and ‘glow in the dark’, priced again rather highly at $52 each.  The Cube is nearly twice the price of the Velleman K8200 3D printer, which went on sale via Maplin in July this year for $800.   However, the Velleman model is supplied in a  kit and may not be suitable for non-technical users.  Whereas the Cube claims to be the only 3D printer certified for safe at-home use by both adults and children alike.   While 3D printing has been used in, for example, the aerospace industry for some time, the launch of these desktop 3D printing devices does indicate that the technology is finally making its way into mainstream society.

[Image via robotshop]