3D printing becomes increasingly relevant, and we love to observe how it’s developing these days. During the weekend I saw an article of Make Magazine passing by about Cubely, an idealistic ‘Open Hardware’ project that aims to make 3D printing easy, accessible and inexpensive using completely open hardware designs and free open source software. Following the instructions on the website, people should be able to successfully print their first object in less than 30 hours and for a relatively small amount of money.
The Cubely project, which reminds of the RepRap initiative, follows several specific guidelines. One of them is to “provide a fully capable 3D printer which can be used to directly manufacture or can be used to easily create the precursors to large volume traditional manufacturing including vacuum forming, injection molding, casting and others”. Furthermore, the “core device must be buildable using standardized, commodity components that are widely available and under $ 1,000 USD. The core device must not require any other device as a prerequisite to build it (other than identified tools)”. Four types of parts are needed to build a so-called ‘Cubely version 1.0’: electronics, motors, the extruder parts and the frame hardware. The core device must be able to be finished and assembled with only a modest set of tools including screw drivers, a drill press, a collection of drill bits and a circular or table saw.
Cubely’s primary goal is an ambitious one: to get 10,000 Open Hardware 3D printing devices in the hands of 10,000 people worldwide by the beginning of 2013. The economic potential of 3D printing to especially the developing world could be substantial, as it delivers specific means of production right to the people. It “permits anyone to bring into physical reality the ideas you have in your head”, as described on the website. When speculating further on these developments, you could imagine shops for household goods becoming obsolete, and replaced by stores selling 3D toners.