Overview of the most popular 3D printers: UP! Plus 2 and Cube 3

    About 20 years ago, not everyone could afford a laser printer at home. And indeed they were perceived as exotic. And now, home 3D printers are becoming commonplace. Now this is a well-established class of devices that are sold in stores and do not require knowledge of electronics for their assembly. Overview of two representatives of household 3D printers, UP! Plus 2 and Cube 3, we bring to your attention.

    Cubify cube 3

    This printer was developed by the American company 3D Systems, which can be called one of the pioneers in the field of 3D printers for both professional and domestic use. The Cube 3 model quickly became one of the most popular on the market.

    As is often the case with various new types of devices, 3D printers have gone through stages from ultra-expensive gigantism to small desktop boxes available to a fairly wide section of the population. By the way, 3D Systems officially declares that when developing software for the Cubify series printers, they hoped that a child could figure it out. In a literal sense.

    Cube 3 was announced at CES 2014, but in Russia it still has not appeared in retail. Although it is promised soon. If you really need it, you can buy a printer at the Russian representative office of 3D Systems for $ 1799 (in the USA it costs $ 1099).

    Main characteristics

    • Maximum print volume: 152.5 x 152.5 x 152.5 mm
    • Print Resolution: 0.07mm
    • Print volume: 3.5 L
    • Printing speed: 10-100 cm³ / hour
    • Workspace Type: Open
    • Materials Used: ABS, PLA
    • File Format: .STL
    • Connection: USB, Wi-Fi (802.11b / g)
    • Supported OS: Windows: XP, Vista, 7, 8; MAC OS X
    • Dimensions: 335 x 338 x 280 mm
    • Weight: 7.7 kg

    Design and construction

    The appearance of the printer is significantly different from the previous model, Cube 2. It does not look deliberately technical , on the contrary, the appearance of the Cube 3 allows it to fit very organically into the interior. The printing area, equipped with a backlight, is not closed by anything; you can observe the process without interference. At the same time you have to regularly wipe the dust.

    On the sides of the working area there are vertical guides along which a platform with the created product moves in a vertical plane. It is printed directly on a smooth plate that attaches to the platform with magnets. A spool of plastic thread is located on the left. In Cube 3, you don’t even have to feed the thread yourself into the print head, just insert the tube extending from the spool into a special slot. However, this is one of the main disadvantages: you can not use supplies from other manufacturers, only proprietary coils from 3D Systems.

    In front of the work area is a small touch screen. It allows you to manage the printer, including starting the calibration of the platform, as well as view the color model of the product. Next to the screen is a power button. The power and USB connectors are located on the sides, at the bottom of the printer. The printer is also equipped with a Wi-Fi module.

    The ideology of ease of use is manifested in the fact that the printer is ready to work right out of the box. It is enough to just set the work surface on the platform.


    To use the printer, you must install the Cubify application. It exists in versions for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. The interface makes a very favorable impression, it is clear that the authors paid a lot of attention to their brainchild: the size of the interface elements, their composition and location are well thought out.

    Cubify has rather limited capabilities; you cannot control every element of the created product. But the application can really be mastered even by a child, it is very user friendly.

    The application has a built-in store where you can purchase other programs for 3D printing and 3D scanning. Thus, 3D Systems forms an entire ecosystem within which users can choose their own device-software combinations. Using the applications offered in the store, you can draw three-dimensional models and convert photos into them, and also use the camera as a 3D printer. There are both paid and free applications that will be of interest to users of 3D printers of a higher class.

    In work

    Complete with Cube 3 are two coils of plastic PLA and glue. The printer allows the use of PLA and ABS, although structurally nothing prevents the use of other materials, but everything rests on the above-mentioned branded coils. However, the manufacturer plans to soon launch production of nylon threads for its printers.

    The device only works with STL format files. Before printing, the work surface must be lubricated with special glue that comes with the kit. Using the touch screen, you can adjust the print resolution. Unfortunately, the speed is not adjustable.

    The above model of a chess rook, the printer printed 4 hours 50 minutes. Despite the resolution of 70 microns, the quality turned out to be very worthy, almost no additional processing was required. So Cube 3 is quite suitable for prototyping, and not just for home crafts. The printer works very quietly for this class of devices, so it can easily be kept in the living room.

    UP! Plus 2

    The second device in our review is an updated version of the main model in the line of the Chinese company PP3DP. Do not pay attention to the “Chinese” one, its parent company Tiertime has long gained a high reputation in the market of industrial 3D printers. UP! Plus 2 appeared on sale in 2013, which is a very long time by the standards of the young 3D printer market. However, the device to this day remains attractive to buyers. The printer is small in size, easy to learn and comes with the convenient UPWare app. By the way, the device is available in our country in retail. The cost is about 89 thousand rubles.

    Main characteristics

    • Maximum print volume: 140x140x135 mm
    • Printing Resolution: 0.15mm, 0.2mm, 0.25mm, 0.3mm, 0.35mm, 0.4mm
    • Print volume: 2.6 L
    • Printing speed: up to 100 cm³ / hour
    • Platform Auto Calibration
    • Workspace Type: Open
    • Materials Used: ABS, PLA
    • File Format: .STL
    • Connection: USB
    • Supported OS: Windows: XP, Vista, 7, 8; MAC OS X
    • Dimensions: 245 x 250 x 350 mm
    • Weight: 5 kg

    Design and construction

    The appearance of the printer is the most geeky. The working area is fully open. Asymmetric metal frame with a large coil does not look too aesthetically pleasing, so the printer is unlikely to become an interior decoration. It will be better to place it in a technical room or in a closet. By the way, some plastic parts of the device themselves are printed on a 3D printer.

    The preparation procedure for work is simple: it is enough to fix the work platform, calibrate it using software, install a spool of thread and stretch it to the extruder. The power button is located on the back, and the identification button on the front. Also on the case there is a power connector and USB. The printer does not have a screen; all control is carried out from a computer.

    The head and platform move in a horizontal plane, but perpendicular to each other. One of the drawbacks inherent in all printers with an open working area is the possibility of too fast or uneven cooling of the molten filament due to drafts or too low room temperature, which can degrade the quality of the product. So we recommend that you pay attention to this point.


    A proprietary printer application looks rather ugly, especially when compared to Cubify. Periodically, there are problems with the encoding, because of which the text turns into a set of question marks. However, it is not difficult to deal with the application, it is easy to learn, there are versions for Windows and Mac.

    The application allows you to adjust not only quality, but also print speed and thread consumption. In addition, there is an intelligent system for automatically creating substrates and supports for products, so in most cases you can not foresee their presence in the model. UPWare lets you work with a range of popular 3D editors, from Autodesk Inventor to 3DSMax.

    In addition to these settings, UPWare allows you to choose the scale, orientation of the model, the thickness of the layers and walls, the degree of filling. After printing starts, the printer can be disconnected from the computer, it will end the work in offline mode. If you connect again, you can check at what stage the printing process is, and also stop it to replace the coil.

    In work

    Calibrating the printer is not as simple as with the Cube 3, but there is nothing particularly complicated about it. You need to install a calibrator on the print head, connect it to the required connector, start the head level adjustment in the program, and then do the same with the platform.

    Unfortunately, the printer is not equipped with Wi-Fi, so all interaction with it is carried out via cable. The printer is also easy to configure and manage, but still not as much as Cube 3.

    UP! Plus 2 also prints with two types of plastic, PLA and ABS. One reel of ABS thread is supplied. It's nice that the coil design allows the use of consumables from other manufacturers, including materials such as nylon and Crystal Flex. True, this quality and print speed will be unpredictable, but you can print.

    The minimum resolution when printing with ABS plastic is 150 microns, the maximum speed is up to 100 cubic centimeters per hour. For an amateur device, these are quite decent parameters. The same chess rook was printed in 9 hours 40 minutes. The noise is moderate, you don’t have to pinch your ears or frown near the printer.

    Our opinion

    For example, Cube 3 and UP! Plus 2 very clearly demonstrated the transformation of 3D printers, their penetration into the mass segment. Both devices require only minimal preparation for the first launch, in fact, they work already out of the box. The software is easy to learn, does not force you to delve into the settings and allows you to print "with the click of a button." At the same time, the print quality is more than worthy for the amateur level, if you want, you can use finished products as prototypes.

    Cube 3 has a pleasant appearance and is very easy to use. It can be controlled via Wi-Fi, including from mobile devices. Printing accuracy is almost 2 times higher than that of UP! Plus 2. The disadvantages include proprietary supplies.

    UP! Plus 2, on the contrary, is “omnivorous” both from the point of view of manufacturers of consumables and from the point of view of the materials used. The cost of the printer is slightly lower than that of the Cube 3. The disadvantages include a not very attractive appearance, a slightly more complicated setup and control, the lack of an integrated screen and Wi-Fi, a resolution of 150 microns, as well as not well thought out software.

    Both devices are equally suitable for amateur modellers and designers, and will also be appropriate in children's clubs. Of course, the market for such devices is still small, basically these devices are still classified as a “geek for geeks”. However, the demand for 3D printers will gradually increase as they are further improved.

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