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Staples Starts Selling 3-D Printer

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the slowly-stepping-into-the-mainstream dept.

Printer 65

An anonymous reader writes "Soon anyone will be able to head out to the store and buy a 3D printer: 'Staples, one of the leading office supply retailers in the U.S. announced it would begin selling 3-D Systems' entry level personal 3-D printer, The Cube. This is quite simply the single largest 3-D printer retail move to date by any 3-D printer manufacturer.' 'The Cube is one of a number of 3-D printers designed with traditional consumers in mind. Specifically, this unit can print items up to 5.5 inches tall, wide and long in one of 16 different colors. The retail bundle includes 25 free design templates to get users started but the real fun is designing and building something all your own.'"

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cartridge based (5, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | about a year ago | (#43624891)

of course it would be a proprietary cartridge based piece of shit.

Re:cartridge based (5, Informative)

EkriirkE (1075937) | about a year ago | (#43624975)

Here's the answer to that: http://www.howmuchsnow.com/cube/ [howmuchsnow.com]

commentary on http://hackaday.com/2013/04/26/cube-3d-printer-hack-lets-you-use-bulk-filament/ [hackaday.com]

Re:cartridge based (3, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | about a year ago | (#43625657)

The solution [Chris] went with still uses the cartridges to ‘trick’ the machine into printing. Basically the interface will tell you that you don’t have enough filament left, but as long as there’s a cartridge in place you can tell it to print anyway.

In other words, this hardware hack is only one firmware update away from being shut down. Once they remove the option to "tell it to print anyway" when the cartridge says it's empty, then the hack is no longer usable.

Re:cartridge based (3, Informative)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about a year ago | (#43626511)

which is why you just never update the firmware.

Re:cartridge based (2)

Dan East (318230) | about a year ago | (#43632083)

Uh, and what does that accomplish when the device is shipped to you with the latest firmware already installed, which disables the "print anyway" option?

Re:cartridge based (2)

Aboshi (2893469) | about a year ago | (#43625117)

of course it would be a proprietary cartridge based piece of shit.

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:76083 [thingiverse.com] looks like you dont need to go buy their cartridges ;)

Re:cartridge based (3, Funny)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year ago | (#43625163)

of course it would be a proprietary cartridge based piece of shit.

but... but... these cartridges will helpfully warn you that you are running out at 50%-capacity and stop working at 30%-capacity. It is a very valuable service.

Re: cartridge based (1)

iamhassi (659463) | about a year ago | (#43628869)

And they tell you if the filament is too old, because no one wants to print with ink or filament that is has been sitting in a cartridge for a whole long year

Re:cartridge based (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year ago | (#43625181)

I've always found it hypocritical that the companies that engage in this sort of small-scale monopolistic and anti-competitive tactic - and there are thousands of them - are left completely alone by the regulatory agencies that are supposed to be preventing it.

Re:cartridge based (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43625225)

I've always found it hypocritical that the companies that engage in this sort of small-scale monopolistic and anti-competitive tactic - and there are thousands of them - are left completely alone by the regulatory agencies that are supposed to be preventing it.

You've already explained the reason the regulatory agencies aren't interested. (Emphasis added.)

Re:cartridge based (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a year ago | (#43625241)

So, do you buy your phone or rent it via 2 year contract? Just checking.

Re:cartridge based (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year ago | (#43625365)

I don't have a cellphone, but if I did it would be purchased outright. While that tactic is monopolistic too, it's not a direct analog to the tactic we're talking about here. It's all bad, just not precisely the same kinda bad.

Re:cartridge based (0)

narcc (412956) | about a year ago | (#43626931)

Sorry, who rents a phone via 2 year contract?

Cell carriers do some weird stuff, but I've never seen them do that!

Re:cartridge based (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#43627223)

Sorry, who rents a phone via 2 year contract?

Most carriers in Canada do that.

Re:cartridge based (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43628211)

Do Canadian carriers really make you give the phone back at the end of the contract or if you terminate it early? If not, then it isn't renting.

Re:cartridge based (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | about a year ago | (#43626373)

small-scale monopolistic

lolwut

Re:cartridge based (2)

macraig (621737) | about a year ago | (#43626561)

Slow news day for you, is it? It's what happens when a manufacturer hasn't monopolized an entire market segment but is, say, monopolizing the consumables for its product lines by preventing third party companies from producing and selling consumables more cheaply or refurbing and reselling them, etc. Slashdot has covered many examples of this tactic; the best known example was Lenovo's chipping of laser toner cartridges and then trying to abuse the DMCA to prevent competing third party compatible cartridges.

If that doesn't morph your LOL into WTF then best you go back to your beer and pretzels.

Re: cartridge based (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | about a year ago | (#43628313)

Anti-competitive I'll certainly grant you, but "small-scale" and "monopoly" are pretty contradictory.

Re:cartridge based (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#43642535)

I've always found it hypocritical that the companies that engage in this sort of small-scale monopolistic and anti-competitive tactic - and there are thousands of them - are left completely alone by the regulatory agencies that are supposed to be preventing it.

2 things.

1) It's not monopolistic if the company doesn't have a monopoly. Their business model is the same printer business model - cheap printer (it's 30% cheaper than a Makerbot), expensive filament. If you don't want this, go buy a Makerbot or other competing 3D printer - you'll pay more initially, but after a little while you'll break even.

2) The solution is worse than the cure. If you want to enforce everyone sticks to standards, where do you draw the line? Do you block OS X and Linux because it doesn't conform to the Windows "standard"? Do you block innovations in 3D graphics because OpenGL ARB hasn't gotten around to certifying the feature? After all, vendor-specific extensions are, well, vendor specific, anti-competitive and monopolistic. Do you prevent smaller cellphones from being made because the new USB cable, even if it's standard, isn't "standard" enough and costs $50 each?

And yes, de-facto standards do matter. Also, what kind of standards? Many aren't free at all - do you give up removable storage because SD cards aren't an open standard?

In the end, your choice is to not buy this and buy a competitor's product. Or buy this and hack it.

Re:cartridge based (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about a year ago | (#43625237)

You can just print a new one.

Re:cartridge based (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626103)

I checked their website. Not only is it a proprietary cartridge based printer, but apparently before you can use it you have to create a cubify account, login, enter your printer serial number, and beg for permission to have it "activated". WTF is that? Some sort of printer DRM?

Re:cartridge based (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626135)

Id buy a cartridge if I could rent a printer to print myself a scanner to scan the 3d printer and then print myself a printer , hopefully id be able to print the cartridge next.

Re:cartridge based (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626499)

We have a 3d systems printer at work. They want $600 for a jug of material and $300 for a jug of support material(wax). So it's a $0.50 jug with $2.00 of wax in it. I guess the microchip that 'keeps the materal fresh' costs $297.50.

Be prepared to pay out the nose for the filament! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43624907)

The Cube printer takes "filament cartridges" that puts the price of your extruded plastic through the roof.

Re:Be prepared to pay out the nose for the filamen (2)

EkriirkE (1075937) | about a year ago | (#43624999)

There is a bypass/hack for that http://www.howmuchsnow.com/cube/ [howmuchsnow.com]

Staples easytech hard sell on extended warranty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43625143)

Hyper presser to sell or they get there hours cut

Re:Staples easytech hard sell on extended warranty (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43625227)

Thanks for telling me that... I'll be sure to tell them at Staples when they try to sell me the EW on something that I'll need to talk to their manager... and then refuse him or her personally. Let's see them cut their own hours.

limited number of stores. (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43624911)

not in all.
still, it's not that easy to find brick&mortar normal stores which sell 'em.

Staples.com (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#43625605)

still, it's not that easy to find brick&mortar normal stores which sell 'em.

Cube 3D Printers & Supplies [staples.com]

Re:limited number of stores. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627523)

No problem; just make one and buy it there.

Does this mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43624953)

3D printing is officially over as a hot /. topic?

Re:Does this mean (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about a year ago | (#43625021)

i thought you asked if they would sell them over at Hot Topic, which created a funny mental image.

no, this is the natural progression towards crafters.

expect soccer moms to replace their scentsy franchises next year.

Staples huh... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43624961)

So it will cost 3 times what you could get it for normally?

Seriously... Everything they sell is overpriced by at least 2x.
They're for office workers. (where people who come get stuff don't care how much their employer spends)
And for those emergency 'I GOTTA HAVE IT RIGHT NOW' type things.

"And no i don't wanna join your rewards club dammit. I just want this replacement mouse. No i really don't want to join. NO! i don't want to join. Just ring this up. It's $15. Here take my money. No i don't wanna join the rewards club and i'm REALLY sure."

Ah...Bonus Round! (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year ago | (#43625175)

So it will cost 3 times what you could get it for normally?

Seriously... Everything they sell is overpriced by at least 2x. They're for office workers. (where people who come get stuff don't care how much their employer spends) "

So seriously, I can use one of these things at work now, in place of more traditional benefits?

Approachable 3D Design Software? (2)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year ago | (#43624973)

Is there anything a typical na\"ive user can use?

Thus far I've been most successful w/ OpenSCAD --- I don't think that will work for most of Staples' clientele. I've tried pretty much everything here:

http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/CAD [shapeoko.com]

But haven't found anything which really appeals --- is there anything I missed?

Re:Approachable 3D Design Software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43625535)

Moonlight Atelier used to be easy to use, but good luck finding a copy.

Re:Approachable 3D Design Software? (1)

am 2k (217885) | about a year ago | (#43625881)

Google SketchUp is the most recommended one.

Re:Approachable 3D Design Software? (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year ago | (#43625911)

Yeah, and it's on that list and I tried it and it doesn't appeal (to me).

Re:Approachable 3D Design Software? (1)

am 2k (217885) | about a year ago | (#43628427)

I just remembered that I stumbled upon a completely different approach for 3D modelling for print recently: Printcraft [printcraft.org] . Maybe this works for you.

DIY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43625009)

"but the real fun is designing and building something all your own."
Need I point out how ironic that statement is, considering it's talking about the Cube.

I understand that not everyone wants to build their own printer, but you know how people used to complain about how you couldn't replace components on Macs? Imagine that, only more so, combined with the horror that is the ink-based markets of printers (the Cube only supports a cartridge system, made exclusively by 3-D Systems which is predictably overpriced).

So Long Sea Life, It Was Nice Knowing You (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43625085)

It's too bad that these things are going to appear in consumer space before an infrastructure to handle 3D printer waste recycling was built out, but I guess it was inevitable. The proliferation of plastic garbage that will result from the adoption of 3D printing at the consumer level is going to make the current floating plastic garbage dumps in our oceans look like a minor annoyance in comparison.

Re:So Long Sea Life, It Was Nice Knowing You (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#43625555)

Send them to Norway [slashdot.org]

Re:So Long Sea Life, It Was Nice Knowing You (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627097)

Gosh. If only it was possible to recycle plastics.

Not worth it for a friend of mine (1)

emuls (1926384) | about a year ago | (#43625137)

A friend of mine got a squaretrade warranty for his android phone. It cost him $85 and the phone eventually broke. He sent it in to squaretrade paying his own shipping and they charged him a $100 deductible to fix it, and then sent it back. I looked up the price of a used phone same make/model from a local classified ad listing and they were going for $200. The $85 investment made him $10.

Re:Not worth it for a friend of mine (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43625281)

Read the fine print on any "warranty" before spending any money on it. It's rare that they will actually do everything they imply when they sound too good to be true.

If you have questions, ask them... ask where in the warranty it says anything that you can't find, and if it's not explicitly written there, then get it in writing, and make sure that a manager signs off on it... not just figuratively, but literally.

One of two things will happen... either they will get frustrated and stop trying to sell you the warranty because they will realize that you're not a sucker from your questions, and insistence on personal accountability of any claims, or else you'll actually get the deal you thought you would.

Re:Not worth it for a friend of mine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626457)

I believe we, as customers, need to start doing business like a business or we get railed. We need to have some printed up forms folded in our wallet so when the salesman hands us five pages of fine print legal contract and a pen, we can trade him our document which insists we take their contract to our attorney and have it interpreted for us at their expense, whether or not we accept the offer. Give a line for them to sign to waive the charges, but in so signing, they acknowledge I am not a legal professional, I am signing a legal document without legal explanation, and in so doing, I will not be held responsible for anything in said document.

Do business like Business does business and see if they will stand for it.

Business has the gall to ask people for damn near anything in a legal contract, while the face of the business salesman smiles, knowing the commission it will get when your hand signs the papers. Its your birthright you are signing away.... do NOT do it for a bowl of soup!

Business has the balls to ask us to sign crap....its high time we grew a pair too and tell them to sign ours as we sign theirs. I guarantee you they will not like it - but its going to have to be done.

Best Comment on the Cube I've Seen (0)

sehlat (180760) | about a year ago | (#43625221)

The Cube 3D. An outrageous price-tag, locked-down functionality, overpriced model store, proprietary cartridges All that’s missing is an Apple logo.

Credit: FutureCyberdyneEngineer [hackaday.com]

A $75 dollar 3-D Printer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43625243)

Replacement cartridges, however, will be priced starting at $3000 a piece.

The OEM sample cartridge should be good for about 3 printed items.

I'm going to print me a gun!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43625325)

One nail, 10 cents. A bunch of ABS plastic, $10. A 3d printer, $75. The look on gun-control advocates faces, Priceless!! http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2013/05/03/this-is-the-worlds-first-entirely-3d-printed-gun-photos/

I love it (4, Funny)

sml156 (1035136) | about a year ago | (#43625351)

Cool the first thing I am going to do with mine is make a ashtray for my dad

Re:I love it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43625689)

You may want to put a metal or ceramic bottom in that styrene ashtray. (For the same reason that it is possible to MAKE the ashtray. Just sayin'.

Re:I love it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626657)

I know that you're just joking, but I'm pretty sure that ABS burns and PLA melts easily...

Re:I love it (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | about a year ago | (#43629707)

Maybe his dad is dead? As in a place to keep his dad's ashes?

Darn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43625465)

Not quite large enough to print lower receivers...

x 1000 (1, Funny)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43625671)

"That's pretty cool, Sheldon. What are you printing?"

"I'm printing some Warhammer figurines. Not the 40K ones, either. Only the real ones."

"That...that doesn't look like a figurine."

(looks) "What? Very nice. A cock. Ha ha, very funny."

Don't worry, they won't sell at Staples (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626273)

They're too expensive and too exotic. They'll sit on the shelf and then be sold on the clearance table.

Print electronic devices (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626419)

I want to be able to 3-D print electronic devices. Spare parts, or even entire phones and computers.

Re:Print electronic devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627075)

Why don't you find out how they're made now and then try to see if it can be done at home?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NGFhc8R_uO4 [youtube.com]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgBjub85TT4 [youtube.com]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=SRu02F6AOmg#t=43s [youtube.com]

Maybe you can point out to me where the inefficiencies are here? Or how you can get rid of the hundreds and thousands of people it takes to make even the simplest electronic device?

lost half the audience (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43626895)

Specifically, this unit can print items up to 5.5 inches tall, wide and long in one of 16 different colors

seems women wouldn't be too interested in this quite yet

Re:lost half the audience (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | about a year ago | (#43629711)

Yeah, but 16 different colors!

Why limit length? (3, Insightful)

GrahamCox (741991) | about a year ago | (#43627185)

I don't understand why the objects need to be limited to 5.5 inches in 3 dimensions. A better design would be to have a moving base plate that allows the length to be much larger and limit the motion of the print head to two dimensions, more like a standard inkjet where the paper moves under the print head. The need to fit your object into such a small cube is a serious limitation - even letting one dimension become substantially larger would be a huge improvement in versatility and hence, likelihood of purchase.

Re:Why limit length? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43627561)

Basically, you could make it bigger, but given typical construction, the directions you'd most want to make it bigger impose performance tradeoffs for small parts.

FDM is generally done (though it doesn't strictly need to be) in flat layers, so you need X and Y axes with high speed -- increasing either of them in size is likely to limit speed (rather acceleration, but whatever) and hurt performance, while the Z axis can be quite slow (it just drops 0.05 to 0.3 mm for each layer). Making it taller is therefore the most feasible expansion, but makes the whole unit bigger, and I've never run out of vertical room in a 150mm cube machine, but often wished I had more horizontal space.

TANSTAAFL.

Re:Why limit length? (2)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#43628383)

Another issue is mass and vibration. The resolution of these printers is less than 500 micrometers. As mentioned they print in layers. Therefore the layers have to line up, perhaps to a resolution of 100 micrometers of less. This means not only does the head have to line up to that precision, but vibration has to kept to a minimum. On way to to that is to keep the machine heavy, and in particular the base on which the object is being build well attached to the machine and very heavy.

If the plate were moved, this would lead to bad effects. The plate would not be able to be as securely attached to the machine so there would be vibration. Every time the plate were moved, and stopped, to allow the medium to be placed and allowed to dry before the next motion, there would be vibrations. The medium would have to be allowed to dry before the plate were moved again.

Think about an old manual typewriter, or maybe we haven't seen one. In any case the heavy platten moved and then the keys hit the paper. Lots of vibration and if the typewriter was not very well built the text would be uneven. Compared to the 'modern' typewriter where the only motion was a very light ball and the text was much more aligned. Compared to the modern laser printer where all that moves is a rotating planten, the back and forth motion is optical.

In any case, the size is really determined by the amount that can be spent on the metal and stepper motors and precision tracks. Remember that the print head has to be repositioned exactly every time. Assuming a 500 micrometer resolution, each addition inch in three dimensions result in another 100,000 positions.

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