There are a few things that I always tell newcomers to 3D printing. There’s no such thing as an out-of-the box printer. A 3D printer isn’t an appliance like a toaster or microwave oven. You can’t set it and forget it, not everything can be preprogrammed and it doesn’t work perfectly every time. You still need to make your own 3D models or download them from the internet, and you still need to slice those model files for printing. And there are always things to consider like is this the best orientation to print the model, what are the temperature, retraction, infill and other settings. And there are the peculiarities of that particular printer. That being said, there are more printers coming into the market that are simplifying the process.
I’d written a while back about the Cubicon Style. Made by South Korean manufacturer HyVision, the Style takes a lot of guesswork and frustrations out of getting a good print. Its bigger brother, the Cubicon Single, was hailed as “the printer that just prints,” by iMakr, one of HyVision’s resellers. I don’t know about that, but the Cubicon Single is a solid machine that features a a coated metal heated bed that makes removing prints a breeze, auto bed leveling and a three-part HEPA filter among other stand out features. It is a very good printer and has been well received by consumers. The Cubicon Style does all this in a smaller, more attractive package, and even one ups the Single.
First impressions… The Style is a very attractive, compact machine. It came with a handsome tool case. The HEPA filter needs to be installed by the customer, but the installation guide made it very easy. Unfortunately, the printer came with a European power cord. Luckily, I had a bunch of power cords, so it was an quick fix.
The Style is quiet, really quiet. Most of the time is barely above a whisper while printing. I set up the printer by the front door of my apartment. You could scarcely hear it from the other side of the door. This printer is not going to disturb the neighbors. Easily the quietest 3D printer that I’ve used thus far. When Mark Lee tested the Style, he found that it only registered 35 decibels when printing! The Style’s “Feel the invisible sound” motto is on point. Nice, one point for the Cubicon Style.
While the Style has many well touted pro features like the HEPA filter and auto bed leveling, there’s one little feature that was left out of the marketing. The Style squirts out a small length of filament off of the bed before each print. It then moves the extruder back along the outside of the bed until it reaches a wiper blade and proceeds to move briskly forwards and backwards, wiping the hot end clean. Pretty neat and something I hadn’t seen before. Seem like something that should be a standard feature on FDM printers.
It’s been said that when playing roulette you should always bet on black. And when printing on the Cubicon Style you should always use a brim. At least that’s true when printing small things. I learned this the hard way when testing out Plex Tiles, my 3D printed textile composed of very small triangular tiles, on the Style. At first it was printing fine, but when my back was turned the prints slid off of the bed and the hot end clogged. Ugh. Unclogging a hot end is not my idea of fun. Let’s chalk this one up to user error.
The printer came with a test print with attached brim, I guess that should have been a hint. Basically, the heated coated bed works almost too well. If you wait for the bed to cool after the print is completed, you can simply lift the part off the bed, no scraping necessary. But very small parts can have trouble adhering, so always use a brim or raft when printing those.
When I started testing the Style, the Cubicreator slicing software was kind of glitchy on the Mac, so I used Simplify3D instead. I understand that Cubicreator is working better now. However, one advantage of using Simplify3D is it allowed me to take advantage of using the full build volume of the printer. The Style has a significantly smaller build volume than the Single, 150 x 150 x 150 mm to the Single’s 240 x 190 x 200 mm, and I wanted to see what a maxed out print would look like. For this test I designed an herb planter system made in 3 interlocking parts. Each part was sized to fit most of the build area of the Style and was printed in PLA. The results were impressive and aside from a little burned material in one print and a partially failed support structure, the printing was very good. The prints would have benefited from an increase in infill and more top layers for the interchangable faceplates I designed, but still they came out very nicely.
The prints were dimensionally accurate down to 0.01mm… very impressive. The design had very tight tolerances of 0.1mm. The dovetails fit perfectly. I also printed part of the PLEN2 robot, found on Wevolver, which came out quite well in ABS, once I found the optimal orientation for the models.
All in all, I found the Cubicon Style exceptionally easy to use and it would be perfect for the novice user and for more experienced designers and makers. Since the Style is fully enclosed, It would work well in a school setting. The HEPA filtration is very effective and I couldn’t even smell ABS printing with the printer door and hood closed. The auto bed leveling, covered extruder and hot end wiper means you could conceivably only need regular access to the build chamber when removing prints. That, and the lack of need to scrape prints from the bed, makes for a frustration-free and safe printing experience. The Cubicon Style is available through iMakr for $1,599 and will be available on September 5th. If that’s within your budget, It’s well worth a look.