Showing posts with label Cube. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cube. Show all posts

Monday, March 17, 2014

3Doodler: Be Your Own 3D Printer

No, I have definitely NOT abandoned my Cube 3D Printers.

But, I have ordered a 3Doodler 3D pen.  And, I had good reasons to do so.

The 3Doodler as Welder

First, it can act as a plastic glue gun, welding PLA or ABS pieces together.  For example, I have already written about creating a face relief of a child in one color and creating a frame to hold it in another.  With the Cube 2, limited to single color printing, this had to printed as two separate jobs and then I used glue to put the pieces together.

Using the 3Doodler to weld the pieces together should be a LOT more effective.

The 3Doodler as Accessorizer

Hmmm... not at all sure that is the right spelling.  But, you get what I mean.  There are designs that are just too difficult for the cadets I teach to pull off in a CAD program.  One of them, for instance, wanted to create a candle holder with angel's wings.  Yes, it could be done.  But, not at his skill level and certainly not in the time he could allot to it.

But, he COULD freehand the wings onto the printed candle holder.

Even closer to home, that frame and relief that I printed could be enhanced by 3Doodling (Is that a word?) a hanger onto the flat back of the combined piece so that it could be hung.

The 3Doodler as 3D Demonstrator

Because of the configuration of 3D printers, with the head being extremely close to the print table, it can be a bit difficult to show the extrusion process.  The actual 3D printing process is easily demonstrated with the 3Doodler since the head can be pulled up so that the extrusion process is clearly seen.

While the 3Doodler is NOT a toy and the minimum recommended age is 14, that does not stop us from using it to demonstrate the 3D printing process to younger children.  We'll be working with the girl scouts at YouthQuest and I expect to be able to put the 3Doodler to work in helping explain how the Cube 3D printer works.

The 3Doodler as Randomizer

So far, while I've seen a lot of fun objects that people have created with the 3Doodler, none could be called high art.  Part of the reason for that is the randomness of the flow when hand held as apposed to the precision of the Cube 3D printer's X-Y-Z engine.

But, there is a certain charm in randomness that has a place in design.  And, I expect that my artist daughter will be quite pleased with some of the things that she can do with this little hand held 3D print tool.

While it might seem that using the 3Doodleradding add accessories and to add randomness to an object is the same thing, it is not.  There are nuanced differences.  I expect to notice an accessory.  I do not expect to notice a subtle added randomness that mimics hand created works.

The 3Doodler as Fun

Let's face it.  Given everything I say above, everyone knows the real reason I ordered a 3Doodler.  I expect it to be a LOT of fun for me and my grandchildren, who are old enough to use it safely.  I sure hope they let me use it!

Bottom Line....

It should arrive soon.  As soon as I have a chance to try it out with all of the above applications I will be sure to post an update. 

Interestingly, YouthQuest, 3D Systems and 3Doodler will all be at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in DC in late April and our booths are adjacent.  (Actually according to the floor plan our YouthQuest booth and the 3Doodler booth are back-to-back on either side of the 3D Systems booth.   The cadets we teach will be helping explain 3D printing to visiting students and parents and I am certain that they are going to want to drop by the 3Doodler booth when they have a chance.  If they end up creating something we'll post images.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cubify Sculpt Tutorial #3: The Beauty of Emboss Area and Texture Maps

I mentioned Emboss Area and Text Maps in a previous post.  I expect to explore these two features in many more tutorials.  They are SO powerful and make adding ornamentation SO easy that it truly makes designing in Sculpt child's play!

When I first heard that the president of 3D Systems was committed to the democratization of 3D printing and design, it was difficult to know if it was a sales slogan or a fundamental core value.  With the introduction of Cubify Sculpt, I now know that it is definitely a fundamental core value and a true commitment.  Cubify Sculpt has the potential to bring 3D design to just about every age group and just about every level of technical competence.

As an educator that taught from 1st grade to high school students, I always hoped that someone would create a product that could be used at the elementary level as well as the higher grades.  While younger students might not be able to create great works of 3D art with Cubify Sculpt, I am convinced that the feature set WILL allow them to successful create nice objects to be printed on a 3D printer.

Cubify Sculpt has the potential to be a major tool for school projects in STEM, Art, Geography and other disciplines.  In this video we show how a simple 2D STENCIL and TOPOGRAPHIC MAP are easily turned into Texture Maps to create reasonably complex 3D features. 

As you can see, a simple paint program can be used to create a tool to be used with EMBOSS AREA to complement any shape.  The fact that Texture Maps WRAP make them particularly powerful.

Cubify Sculpt has exceeded my expectations in a HUGE way.

Cubify Sculpt Tutorial #2 - Setup and Potter's Wheel Simulation

I'm simply amazed that I have been able to actually complete some demonstration projects so quickly in Cubify Sculpt.  I can assure you that this would not have been possible in any of the other sculpting applications I've tried to learn in the past.

One of the first upgrade features that I asked for when I first opened Cubify Sculpt was the ability to manipulate the clay in the fashion of a Potter's Wheel.  Well, it turns out that we can do just that using some hot keys or, I hope, by using a Spaceball type of device.  I've been told that the SpaceNavigator device can be used to spin objects with one hand as the other is used to sculpt.  But, we don't have to wait until a SpaceNavigator arrives to test the concept.

It turns out that the ARROW KEYS can be used to spin the object a specified number of degrees and by holding down the ARROW KEY we can do so continuously.

Here is a video that shows the concept!

The image used for the video preview is the SpaceNavigator.  I have ordered one and should have it by next week.  I was under $100 and I am looking forward to seeing how well it works!

The combination of being able to start with an STL, like the chalice, which is VERY easy to create in a CAD program; but, slow to create in a sculpting application and the having the ability to quickly add features while spinning the piece is a VERY powerful capability.  The ARROWS and other Hot-Keys are good things to explore.

I love it!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cubify Sculpt - Emboss/Texture Maps: A Power Tool Combination

One of the problems I've had with previous sculpting tools I've tried is just how long it takes to make something useful in an educational setting.  If all we had were Push/Pull style tools, that would be true of Cubify Sculpt.  But, it's worth taking a look at the EMBOSS AREA tool and particularly the CUSTOM (with TEXTURE MAPS) option.

In fact, a good number are included with the Cubify Sculpt install, in the PATTERNS directory under the directory where Cubify Sculpt is installed.

Any black & white bitmap image having various levels of gray can be used with the Emboss Area tool.  The lighter the area, the higher the embossing action.  White areas will emboss the highest and black will not be raised at all.  The shades in between will be raised higher as the color moves to white and lower as the color moves toward black.


My main reason for exploring this feature so early is that a number of people have asked me about using the Cube / 3D Printing in an elementary school setting where the time allotted to teaching a 3D creation is limited.  At first, I was skeptical that Cubify Sculpt would meet that requirement,

But, the more I have explored the concepts of "TEMPLATES" (pre-designed basic shapes to be modified) and "Texture Maps" (pre-designed embossing stamps), the more I'm convinced that Sculpt would allow teachers to integrate 3D printing in just about any classroom.


From my high school days, one of my most consistent hobbies has been protozoology.  Some people watch birds, I watch protozoa.  In the late 1970's I taught Junior High Science and so it was natural for me to begin the exploration into how EMBOSS AREA could be used to provide a jumpstart for a student to design their own protozoa models.  For a future article, I will create a tutorial showing how the Texture Map was created and used.  But, for now here are images that show the Texture Map on the left and the final model on the right.

Amoeba Texture Map (Bitmap)

The above image was created in a 3D paint program.  Any, paint program can be used.  The important thing is that lighter areas will result in higher embossing and the black areas will not emboss at all.

Here is the above picture side-by-side with the resulting 3D object.

3D Amoeba Created From Texture Map

Here is another view that demonstrates the embossing a bit better. 

Amoeba Model at an Angle

The bumps in the surface were added after the emboss created the basic shape.  The embossing was done on the surface of a cube and then the cube was cut away using the REMOVE CLAY WITH BOX tool.  While the Texture Map was used like a stamp on the surface of the cube, there was still plenty of design modifications, such as lumps, bumps and indentations to the surface that the student could add.  Older students could have even created the Texture Map itself.  In fact, the Texture Map could even be created using a microscope image of a real creature!  Just convert the color image to black & white.

Finished Amoeba

The beauty in the fact that we can use gray scale images to create 3D features is that the images can be created in a variety of ways, including mathematically   Again, this isn't great art.  But, it DOES demonstrate the usefulness of Cubify Sculpt in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) program. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Avoiding the Tug-o-War When Unloading the Filament

If you have changed a cartridge in the 2nd Generation Cube, you've probably noticed that it can be pretty difficult to pull the filament back out of the head.  Chances are, if you have experienced this, the cartridge you are trying to change was PLA.

PLA melts at a different temperature than ABS plastic.  And, that means that it also solidifies at a lower temperature than ABS.  And, THAT means that if the material is not thoroughly heated before having the mechanism back it out, it could cool too soon and break... causing a real clogging issue.

So, the unload strategy for the Cube when using PLA is to first drive the filament DOWN into the heating tip, bring the temperature up and only then reverse the gears to start backing the PLA UP and out.

But, the current LCD message we get does not accurately reflect that timing reality.

It tells us to pull NOW... putting us into a tug of war with the Cube.

My fight with the filament gear has been almost comical as I've dutifully followed the message to pull up on the filament while the filament gear is obviously trying to eat the filament!  Not one to avoid a fight, I've even tried using some pliers to exert my will over the seemingly recalcitrant Cube... to no avail!

Now I know what is really happening and why.

It's simply a messaging and timing issue.  Instead of immediately pulling, we can relax for a few minutes and let the Cube do its thing.  We need to be "one with the Cube".  And, that means that we should wait a bit before trying to pull the filament out of the print head.

But, how long?  Since the message on the LCD tell us to pull up right away, we need some clues as to when we should actually begin pulling up on the filament.

Sharpie to the Rescue!

What I now do is to make a little mark with a Sharpie on the filament just above the line where the filament enters the head.  I then follow the direction of the mark to give me the clue as to when the filament is finally being reversed back out of the head.  At first, it will be lowered into the filament channel for that extra heating we mentioned.  But, once the heating step is completed, you'll see the mark rising up and back out of the filament channel.

That is the time to start pulling.

3D Systems has been great about changing the user messages on the LCD to make the operation of the Cube ever easier for users.  Hopefully, we will see changes to the message concerning unloading so that we can simply wait for the appropriate message to tell us exactly when it's the right time to pull without fighting what is happening internally.  That is the beauty of the Firmware update process.

In the meantime, the Sharpie is my friend.  :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hello Flowers! Amazing Interface for 3D Content Design

Not all 3D content is suitable for printing on our home 3D printers.

That's a shame.  Because, the iPad app that I'm going to talk about now is a marvelous 3D application with the most intuitive interface that I've ever used.

The app is called Hello Flower.   It's the work of a small two person company called Hello Enjoy.

There is no doubt that 3D printing is coming to homes and schools in a huge way.  It's inevitable.

But, 3D printers are just piles of parts without the apps and software that enables and empowers users to create the content to be printed.  And, when it comes to software, that is to be easy to use for the widest audience,  control structures and interface is everything.  And, Hello Enjoy knows control structures and interface.

It was hard enough to find people that truly understood how to make 2D graphic design easy on a computer.  3D adds a lot more complexity to the task of creating tools that are easy to use.  Carlos Ulloa and Libertad Aguilera have hit it just about perfectly for their application that allows users to design their own 3D flowers.  It's a gorgeous application.

The images can be saved as.OBJ, I doubt that they would print well because they create such delicate features.  But, that doesn't keep me from longing to see Hello Enjoy create an application specifically for creating unique works of abstract art that is suitable for printing.  The almost unlimited ability to reshape, segment and twist should create some amazingly unique and beautiful work.

Come back later and I'll have some images to share.  I'm using an Apple to compose this post.  And, I am Apple challenged.  But, as soon as I'm back home, I will upload some samples and talk more about the interface features that I love so much.

But, I definitely wanted to immediately let you know about this amazing app as soon as possible.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thaw Iced Cubes Carefully

This comes under the heading of "What NOT to do with a Cube".

I managed to short out the control board or power supply on my Cube due to condensation that formed when I left my Cube in the trunk of my car overnight in sub-freezing temperatures, brought it into a warm room and immediately tried to start it.

Bad idea.

I should have known better.  Back in my years of video production with reel-to-reel video recorders I learned that condensation instantly can form on cold equipment when it's brought inside.  The tape would actually stick to the head drum from moisture forming on the drum.  We ALWAYS waited a few minutes before turning on our video tape machines that had gone from very cold conditions to a warm room.

Now, I know that leaving a Cube in the truck of my car in sub-freezing temperatures requires that same patience in starting up that Cube in a warm room.  Even a few minutes would have made a difference.

It's not that the Cube cannot survive the cold.  The outdoor studio in which mine usually sets regularly goes down below freezing.  But, I always warm of the building before firing up the Cube and so no moisture is formed due to the differences between the ambient temperature of the air and the Cube.  Both air and Cube warm simultaneously.

In this particular case the air was warm and the Cube was cold.  As we all learned in Science this can cause the water in the warm air to condense on the cold surface.  Water on electrical surfaces is NOT a good thing.

It's now in the hands of the good Cube doctors who will be performing open Cube surgery.  I'm told the prognosis is good and it should be back home shortly.  That is very good news.  I'm suffering a severe case of Cube withdrawal.  I've still got my RepRap; but, it's just not the same.


It's OK to let your Cube go below freezing.  But, when bringing a freezing Cube into a warm room, give the Cube some time to warm up before turning it on. Better safe than sorry.


Keep watching the comments to this post as Mike continues to troubleshoot and make additional discoveries.  Thank you Mike for taking the time to chase this down!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hagley Invention Convention - Visitor's Perspective

What keeps you pumped up for three full days and hours on end at an event is the people you meet.  And, Hagley's Invention Convention was a prime example of this.  I had a wonderful time.  But, I was working the table.  How was it for the visitor that came by the Cube table to learn about 3D printing and see the new Next-Gen Cube.

The following photos give us a bit of a hint.  They were taken by Joe Pulcinella, a parent and professional photographer.  Now, he didn't lug along his massive Canon SLR and professional lights to Hagley.  After all, this was to be a fun father-child outing. But, when I saw him taking pictures with his smaller camera, and saw the quality, I asked him if he would mind letting me put them up on this blog so that you could see what he saw.  He was kind enough to send some to share with you.

Next-Gen Cube - Hagley Invention Convention (Joe Pulcinella)

The Cubify team kept the prototype Next-Gen Cubes running non-stop, printing in both ABS and PLA.  The printing table mount will be a bit different in the production machines that ship this month.  This is the "pink" version of the new Cube. 

A Favorite - The Owl  (Joe Pulcinella)

My eldest granddaughter had the same reaction when she saw the owl.  She wanted one.  What made this particular owl so special was the new resolution of the Next-Gen Cube.  The detail is stunning.  Behind the owl is Keith Ozar, of the Cubify Team.  Remember that name, you are going to see it a lot.  More about that later.  :)

Sisters Studying the Cube's Print  (Joe Pulcinella)

It was fun to watch how the children and parents took great care to learn how the Cube created the objects.  First. they took the time to watch the printing process and ask questions.  But, most also wanted to pick up the printed pieces and explore them in depth.  This was the "Blue" version of the Next-Gen Cube.

Studying the Cube's Print Up Close (Joe Pulcinella) 's

I've been printing with a 3D printer for a while now.  But, even I had to pick up the Rhino and experience for myself how smoothly it was printed with the Next-Gen Cube.  And, I also have to marvel that this was printed without requiring either raft or supports!  Be sure to click on the image to see it at full size.

Intense Focus on the Cube Printing   (Joe Pulcinella)

Seeing people intently trying to drink in exactly how the Next-Gen Cube worked its magic was a lot of fun.  But, seeing the quality of the printed output was equally fun.  The large rook, alligator and planter were all created on the Next-Gen Cube.  Again, click on an image to see those teeth in the jaws of that croc and be amazed that they were not only very sharp... But, printed without any support at all!

(I still have to find the site to download the Alligator and Rhino.  When I do, I will update this blog entry with the links.)

Thank you Joe.  I enjoyed meeting you and our discussions about what a wonderful job the Cubes were doing.  I really appreciate the pictures and I'm sure the readers are equally appreciative.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2nd-Gen Cube Wins Kids At Play Award for Innovation!

One of the great things about having a 3D printer is that it enhances our abilities to achieve better designs through iteration... beginning with one design, analyzing it to see if it meets our goals and coming up with an even better design.

Well, apparently, 3D Systems has applied that same design philosophy to the Cube 3D printer.

And, the proof is in the form of a very cool award.  The KAPi Award for Innovation in Children's Media!

KAPi Award for Innovation in Children's Media

You can read the Cubify blog's post about the award here.

But, I would like to tell you why this Award is so meaningful to me.   And, I had NOTHING to do with their winning it!!!  LOL!

From the very first time the Cube was announced, it was clear that 3D Systems was aiming right at the home and families.  Children were at the center of the focus, right from the very beginning.  They talked about creating apps that were "Coloring Book Simple", which frankly, I chided them about at the time.  But, I knew what they were trying to get at and, in fact, HAVE introduced apps that meet the spirit of those early claims!  And, they not only work; but, they are very cool!

While I do get to talk to people at 3D Systems from time to time about specific topics or questions I am not at all privy to their deeply guarded secrets.  So, I was quite surprised by the introduction of the 2nd Generation of the Cube.  And, more than a little bit perplexed about dropping my beloved heated printing platform.  But, it all makes sense now.

The goal, all along, was a FAMILY FRIENDLY 3D printer.  And, ultimately, that meant completely "Kid Safe".  While the 1st Generation Cube was certainly safe enough.  It is obvious, now, that 3D Systems felt it could be made even MORE safe for children.  And, that is exactly what they have done.  By finding a way to adhere ABS to an unheated bed and adding a little more protection around the print jet head, they managed to do what no other 3D printer manufacturer has ever achieved... It's hidden in this short little sentence...
"The Cube meets all IEC 60950 Printer Safety Requirements, making it the only consumer 3D printer that is safe for at-home use by adults and children alike."
In just one design cycle after the original release of the Cube, the designers managed to achieve another first... being the ONLY 3D printer meeting the stringent safety requirements embodied in IEC 60950.  (And, in the process also managed to improve the performance!)

This is no trivial achievement.  To design for ultimate safety as well as fun is a major innovative accomplishment.  It means that I can go forward with even MORE confidence encouraging parents and teachers to bring the Cubify 3D printer into their homes and schools.  As a former teacher and present grandfather, this a HUGE deal for me!

Congratulations Cubify Design Team!


In researching the KAPi awards I came across this page that describes the process.  About 4am this morning I awoke with an "AHA!" moment.  It dawned on me that I had missed the significance of the timing of the way the process works.  The nomination for the Cube that won the award had to have been submitted by November 2012!  I THINK that means that while it was the 2nd Generation Cube at the Awards Ceremony, it was the 1st Generation Cube that the judges considered worthy of the Innovation in Children's Media award! It started life as the most innovative and only got better!  Now, THAT is cool!

Monday, January 7, 2013


Knowing that this was CES week, I decided to check out the Cubify site early this morning.

The first sign that my instincts might be right about something special on the horizon was that the site was initially down.  But, a few minutes later I found out why.

I was shocked!!!  AND VERY PLEASED.

Not only was there an announcement of a 2nd generation Cube that is faster and more accurate than the first.  There was also an announcement that the the Cube has a big sibling!

It's called the CubeX and it's not just a little update.  It's a whole new printer capable of printing both PLA and ABS in up to THREE colors!

I don't have time to do it justice this morning.  But, go to

Be ready to be VERY happy!

UPDATE:  Pictures 

As you can see, it seems to be using cartridges similar to that of the Cube.   A puzzling thing for me is that it is apparent that the bed is NOT heated.  As you know, one of the things I love about the Cube has been the heated bed which reduces warping of ABS.  As the new Next-Generation Cube seems to have dropped the heated bed in favor of a special glass bed, I'm hoping that they have found a way to control ABS warping WITHOUT having to have a heated bed. 

 I can't imagine a scenario where 3D Systems would go backwards in this regard.  So, I am REALLY anxious to see the new beds in action and to test them for myself.

The goal is NOT to simply have a heated bed.  The goal is to be able to print ABS without warping.  I don't care how that is accomplished as long as it is accomplished.  :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Invent Intro #04 - Circles (Extrusion Boss & Cut)

Extrusion is one of the most used commands in any CAD program.  And, Cubify Invent is no exception.  It is THE primary way that we turn a 2D sketch into a 3D object. 

There are two types of EXTRUDE that can be used in Cubify Invent.  They are EXTRUDE (Boss) and EXTRUDE (Cut).


Essentially, EXTRUDE (Boss) ADDS layers of material in the shape of the 2D sketch to form a 3D object with features defined by the 2D sketch.  I don't think that it's a stretch to call EXTRUDE (Boss) the most used 2D to 3D option.

Using EXTRUDE (Boss), a 2D circle becomes a 3D Cylinder having height as well as a circumference.  A 2D square becomes a 3D box or cube when EXTRUDE (Boss) is applied.


EXTRUDE (Cut) doesn't ADD material.  It REMOVES material, if any exists.  This is most often used to create cut-outs and holes in already existing 3D objects.  While not used as often as its boss counterpart, it is still an often used option and may well be second of all the 3D options in frequency of use.

Using the selected 2D sketch, it acts as a cutting die, removing the exact shape of the original 2D sketch from whatever 3D object is crosses.  It can cut partially through an object or all the way through as the user determines.

Here is a video that demonstrates these powerful Cubify Invent commands at work creating a useful part that has bolt holes and a ledge that is counter-sunk into the part using EXTRUDE (Cut).

For those exploring Moment of Inspiration, here is how a similar part might be created using only EXTRUDE (boss) with MOI's Boolean Union and Difference Tools.  It's interesting how different applications accomplish the same task by going down two different paths. 

In a follow-up tutorial, we explore all the 2D and 3D BOOLEAN FUNCTIONS available in Moment of Inspiration.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Welcome Material Innovation


What I'm about to relate to you is NOT available for the Cube just yet.  Nor, do I know that it will EVER be available.  But, I suspect that it will be unless the fibers in the material I'm about to introduce pose some problems at the normal ABS plastic extrusion temperatures.

Someone has recently announced a new filament for 3D printers that prints wooden objects.  It's called Laywoo-D3 and for now it's only available in small 3mm trial amounts on the German eBay site.  But, the developers say that it will also be manufactured at 1.75mm filament width.