CIRCUITS AND DEVICES
Let's face it. Ever since you began reading about 3D printers, you've wanted one. Unfortunately, most are geared to
industrial design applications, are complicated, and can run
you tens of thousands of dollars. However, 3D Systems
www.3dsystems.com) has released the second generation of
its 3D printer lineup, beginning with the Cube — a desktop unit
that connects wirelessly to your PC or Mac, takes up only
10 x 10 inches on your desktop, and has been dubbed "easiest
to use" and "most reliable" by Make Magazine.
The Cube can use both recyclable ABS plastic and
compostable PLA cartridges; the materials are available in 16
different colors, including glow-in-the dark green and blue and
metallic silver. You also get three choices of fill density: light,
medium, and solid. The main limitations are that your creations
can't be larger than 5. 5 inches cubed, and you shouldn't expect
to crank things out at commercial production rates; printing out
a case for your smartphone will take about two hours. Of
course, 99 percent of the stuff you print out will be totally
useless. But fun is fun.
The complete Print Pack can be had for $1,399, including the Cube printer, four cartridges, and the Cubify Invent
design software. After that, cartridges will run you $49 each. According to the company, one cartridge will make 13 or
14 average items. If you need to print larger things (and have a fatter wallet), you can opt instead for the CubeX at
$2,499 and generate things as large as a basketball. Plus, the Duo ($2,999) and Trio ($3,999) versions can print in two
and three colors (respectively). For info on other 3D printers, be sure to check out the new series by Michael Simpson,
starting in the May 2013 issue of SERVO Magazine. ▲
■ The Cube brings 3D printing to your desktop.
FLASHY MOBILE PHONES
You may not have thought about it, but even though your mobile phone may be snapping photos that are
on par with those of a decent quality digital camera,
there is something missing: the flash. At present, flash
units are just too large and power hungry to be included.
■ Xenon's prototype flash unit, designed
for mobile phones.
However, the folks at Singapore's Xenon Technologies
www.xenon-technologies.com) have latched onto a
"revolutionary" capacitor developed at Nanyang
Technological University (
www.ntu.edu.sg) and come up
with a compact flash unit that should change all that.
The cap is made from layered polymers, so it takes
up only about 25 percent of the space required by
electrolytics. It is several times faster than today's ceramic
components, yet it delivers a charge that's powerful
enough to drive the kind of high intensity xenon flashes
found in digital cameras.
The unit has yet to migrate from research lab to
production, but the NTU-Xenon team is expected to
develop a working commercial prototype by September