Eyes-on with 3D System's CubeX and next-generation Cube (Update: video)

Eyeson with 3D System's CubeX and nextgeneration Cube

3D Systems isn't exactly new to the consumer 3D printing space, but its history lies in professional additive manufacturing. Its machines have found homes around the globe in high profile businesses like Boeing. That hasn't stopped the company from rolling out a pair of impressive home options at CES. The company's CEO Avi Reichental stopped by our stage chat for a while and let us play with the two new devices, the CubeX and the second-generation Cube.

The Cube X is a rather beastly device. While technically it might able to sit on a desk, we wouldn't exactly call it a desktop printer. The 1,030 cubic inch-build platform is large enough print a basketball, though, one that wouldn't bounce very high. Such a build would take quite a long time however, with the lower 500 micron resolution taking up to 12 hours to spit out. If you bumped it up to 125 microns an easily breakable sphere would be yours in about 24 hours. Still, that's quite a bit faster than some printers out there, and it can accomplish the feat in three colors -- something no other consumer model we've seen is capable of. Even though we've seen high resolutions out of machines like the Replicator 2, the difference 25 microns makes is practically indistinguishable. Everything from chain mail to mugs are within reach. Rather impressively, just like its little brother, the CubeX relies on cartridges instead of spools for dispensing plastic -- either ABS or PLA. 3D Systems even calls them "smart cartridges" since it can distinguish between the two plastics and adjust the properties accordingly.

The next generation of the Cube can also use ABS and PLA interchangeably. Though, only one color at a time. The tinier printer does gain portability from the size shrink (it has only has room for a 5.5-inch cube) and the ability to be powered by a battery thanks to its low power-draw. There's also WiFi onboard for loading designs directly from your computer, though the demo we were treated to was performed using a USB stick, thanks to the crowded airwaves in the Las Vegas Convention Center. To demonstrate its portability, 3D systems even strapped a Cube to one of its reps and sent him around the show floor. Though we didn't get the size of the pack he was carrying, the company claimed it had been running on the same battery all day. Both devices are available now for preorder, with the CubeX planning to ship on February 8th for $2,499 and the Cube on January 21st for $1,399.

Update: We've added a quick video of the printers in action (along with some show floor ambiance) and the complete interview with CEO Avi Reichental below.