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CES 2014: 3D printing unleashed upon businesses and consumers

3D Systems has unveiled its CubePro 3D printer, a large-capacity beast that can print at high resolution in up to three colours. CubePro marks a new generation of printers in the company's Cubify line, which featured the Cube 3D Printer. The company describes the CubePro as the only simultaneous triple-colour, multi-materials, large-capacity, "prosumer" printer available today.

The CubePro has a whopping 10.8in x 10.45in x 9.5in build area, and offers resolutions down to an ultra-fine 75-micron print layer thickness. According to 3D Systems, the print chamber's controlled process environment ensures true-to-CAD prints. The CubePro will be available in a three-print-head configuration, allowing users to print in up to three simultaneous colours and in up to two materials.

The printer offers a colour touch-screen display, as well as mobile and Wi-Fi capability. CubePro is compatible with the Cubify mobile app, letting users print on the go direct from their Shelf, prepping files and sending to print, all from an iOS, Android, or Windows phone.

Its insta-load cartridges incorporate filament jets to save time switching materials or colours. The company encourages recycling of filament cartridges as well as unwanted prints. You can send back empty cartridges to designated 3D Systems locations for reuse in exchange for a discount on new cartridges and return used ABS and PLA prints for responsible recycling or composting by 3DS. The CubePro comes with a proprietary print pad that according to the company conserves power compared with other 3D printers.

CubePro comes with starter materials, 25 free designs, and a Cubify Invent software license for introductory 3D design. CubePro is integrated with 3DS's Cubify consumer lifestyle hub, connecting CubePro users to curated collections of 3D printable content from favorite DIY, automotive and gear brands, as well as the Cubify social platform where users can share and co-create with others.

The company plans to commence commercial shipment of CubePro during the second quarter of 2014. Exact pricing is as yet unavailable, though "sub-$5,000" (£3,045) may put it out of the range of typical consumers. The CubePro is on display this week at CES 2014.

XYZprinting Inc. is also at CES showing off da Vinci, a personal 3D printer priced at just $499 (£304). And yesterday, MakerBot introduced three new 3D printers in its upcoming lineup of fifth-generation Replicator products, including one dubbed the Replicator Mini, which the company is pitching as an affordable desktop unit for beginners.