The Cubify CubeX Duo is one of the best consumer-level 3-D printers available, and while most home users should be more than satisfied with its capabilities, there are a few minor drawbacks to note. Like all 3-D printers, the CubeX Duo is limited by the current technology, so print speed is inversely proportional to print resolution. However, the CubeX Duo is capable of one of the highest resolutions in the 3-D printing market. This particular model comes with dual print heads, which is really all you need to make multi-color objects. The CubeX Trio, which has three print heads, costs about $1,000 more than the Duo, and printing with more colors causes print jobs to take longer. As it is, the largest-sized print, which reaches 10.7 by 10.7 by 9.5 inches, takes at least 10 hours to finish, depending on the resolution and complexity of the object.
The Cubify Invent software lets you preview the print job before starting, so you can catch any flaws that could potentially waste time and filament. The CubeX Duo supports both PLA and ABS filament, although the more expensive ABS variety requires an aftermarket heated printing platter. The software that comes with the CubeX Duo is a proprietary 3-D printing program, unlike the open-source software that comes with some other printers, such as the MakerBot Replicator. Cubify Invent is fairly easy to use, but it only runs on Windows or Mac, so Linux users will have to install Windows on a separate partition or use a different computer. The CubeX Duo doesn’t actually connect to a computer; instead, it uses an SD card slot to read files saved on a flash drive.
Cubify CubeX Duo vs FlashForge Creator Pro
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The construction of the CubeX Duo is incredibly sturdy as it is made entirely of stainless steel, weighing around 80 pounds. This construction prevents the printer from warping over time as the wooden MakerBot Replicator eventually does. Although it requires at least two people to set up the CubeX Duo, the simplicity of the software and the durability of the construction make it worth the somewhat higher price. The CubeX Duo costs around $2,499, while the Replicator costs $1,999. Cubify Invent works with SolidWorks files and converts them to STL files for printing from the SD card. The trade-off for being easy to use is that Cubify Invent is somewhat limited compared to open-source software such as Skeinforge. You can scale objects, adjust the resolution and choose the active extrusion head, but you can’t adjust parameters such as platter temperature or Z-gap. To adjust the Z-gap before printing, you must use the LCD control panel on the printer.
Print jobs don’t seem to fail as often with the CubeX Duo as with other printers. To start a job, you have to first clean the platter using plain, cold water, then adjust the Z-gap for the individual print job. You will have to simply use your eyes to adjust the Z axis, which isn’t difficult using the LCD control panel. The panel can be a little troublesome to use at first because it requires some pressure to select options and adjust settings, but once you get used to the sensitivity, it isn’t too difficult. Cleaning the platter after a print job is very easy, and the process is well-designed by Cubify. All you have to do is remove the print platter, gently pry off the printed object and then run cold water over the water-soluble adhesive to remove it. Before printing the next object, apply the glue and wait about 30 seconds for it to become tacky.
You may want to watch the print head lay down the first layer of plastic to the platter to ensure a good contact. The first several print jobs you try may require some experimentation before you print a successful 3-D object. The example files that come on the SD card are interesting and respond well to scaling and resolution adjustment, but without properly setting the Z-gap and preparing the platter, even these simple files will turn into a mess.