Things Fall Apart

Cube 3D Printer Teardown by Popular Mechanics

popular mechanics

This video from Popular Mechanics shows a Cube 3D printer being completely dismantled down to its base components, one screw at a time.

The 3D printer is a marvel of modern engineering, on that we’re all agreed. But this isn’t Star Trek, and whilst we might wish it were otherwise, it’s not a magic box that spits out fully-formed objects.

Nope, it’s a very, very, very complicated machine, made up of hundreds of little constituent parts. But don’t take our word for it. Check out this fascinating video from the team at Popular Mechanics, where they carefully, painstakingly, and laboriously dismantle a Cube FDM 3D printer down to the very last nut and bolt.

Ordinarily, such a process would take several hours to complete. Five hours and 17 minutes, to be precise, with 677 parts to keep track of. But this sped-up video compresses the action to a matter of minutes, and caps it off with the whole kit and kaboodle laid out in a neatly organized grid.

Cube 3D Printer Really is Popular Mechanics

Two things spring to mind. First, we should spare a thought for the now-discontinued Cube 3D printer, a consumer grade machine by 3D Systems whose underwhelming performance no doubt contributed to their disappointing financial results in recent years.

The Cube is a closed-source 3D printer, which means the blueprints are not available to inspect or modify as you might with an open-source Ultimaker or Lulzbot. For anyone who’s curious about its inner-workings, this presents a golden opportunity.

Secondly, you really don’t appreciate the engineering know-how that goes into a 3D printer until you see one being taken apart.

Whilst the holy grail of consumer 3D printing is to reach a mass-market with technology that’s user-friendly and push-button simple — a challenge the Cube tried and failed to meet — we shouldn’t be in such a rush to overlook the frankly incredible complexity of the circuitry, motors and wiring that come together in a magical symphony of additive manufacturing.

Something to think about, the next time we marshal these awesome powers together to fabricate a dinky little key-chain…!

Oh, and if you’re interested in seeing the same thing in reverse, check out this video of the E3D BigBox 3D Printer being assembled.

popular mechanics cube 3D printer teardown