It’s been a tough year for 3D Systems. The unexpected departure of CEO Avi Reichental, in addition to financial difficulties and rumors of layoffs and facility closures, have many people feeling uneasy about the company’s future. Now, to perhaps add insult to injury, a new startup filament manufacturer has just announced that they are now selling replacement cartridges for 3D Systems’ Cube2, CubePro and CubeX printers. 3D Systems has drawn ire from consumers in the past for the cost of its proprietary filaments. Although the printers themselves are on the inexpensive side, the expensive filaments make investing in a Cube more costly, over time, than it may initially seem.
Enter MakeShaper, a North Carolina-based filament manufacturer. MakeShaper is a subsidiary of Static Control Components, a company that sells remanufactured toner cartridges for 2D printers. (Static Control Components, notably, won the 2014 Supreme Court intellectual property case Lexmark, International, Inc. vs Static Control Components, Inc.) Currently MakeShaper sells 1.75mm ABS and PLA filament in a variety of colors and quantities, but on November 3rd they officially announced that they are selling replacement cartridges for the Cube printers mentioned above.
This is the first time that a company other than 3D Systems has offered replacement Cube cartridges, and MakeShaper is selling theirs for a reduced cost. A replacement CubePro or CubeX cartridge, purchased from 3D Systems, costs $99, while the same cartridge purchased from MakeShaper costs only $80. A Cube2 cartridge from 3D Systems costs $49, but will only run you $36 through MakeShaper. Not to mention, MakeShaper also offers free shipping.
MakeShaper assures potential customers that their replacement Cube cartridges have the same fit, function, and filament quality as the original cube cartridges. Currently, they are offering the cartridges in red, blue, green, black and white, with the promise that additional colors are forthcoming.
All of their filament products, the company states, possess the “qualities essential to any 3D printing enthusiast”:
- Quality controlled roundness and smoothness
- FDA-approved polymers and colorants
- Consistent color
- Moisture resistant packaging
It remains to be seen what kind of impact, if any, MakeShaper’s Cube cartridges will have on 3D Systems’ bottom line. It’s possible that wary potential buyers may be more likely to purchase a Cube with the knowledge that they can buy their proprietary filaments for a lesser cost elsewhere, which could actually have a positive effect on the struggling 3DSystems. It will also be interesting to see if MakeShaper comes out with their own less-expensive versions of other printer manufacturers’ proprietary filaments in the future. Regardless, this self-described “team of scientists, engineers and creative professionals” that makes up MakeShaper should certainly be one to watch. What are your thoughts on these competitive prices? Let us know in the Cube 3D printer Cartridge forum thread on 3DPB.com.