Since becoming more widely available to the public, people have found a myriad of uses for 3D printers, whether it's recreating bone, constructing replacement shells for hermit crabs, or simply customizing mini robot figurines. Unfortunately, most 3D printers still have one drawback over other types of printers, in that they typically need to be put together like a hobby kit. Seeing as most electronics are purchased fully intact, the idea of having to build a device piece by piece can be off-putting to consumers. 3D Systems is hoping to rectify the problem with its own 3D printer that actually works right out of the box, along with a new Cubify platform for designing and distributing printed creations.
The 3D printer, called simply The Cube, offers an alternative to other printers on the market like the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic, which need to be pieced together like an Erector Set before they can start churning out your creations. The device was designed by 3D Systems to be ready to print the moment it's unpacked and connected to the Cubify platform.
Artists can design models for the printer using apps that work on smartphones and tablets, which the company claims are simple enough for children to use. At CES 2012, 3D Systems is even demonstrating a new app that designs 3D models using the Kinect, and has announced the launch of a Cubify website that allows users to upload and sell their models or creations online.