Among all the breakthroughs we saw at last week's Consumer Electronics Show, 3D Systems' (NYSE: DDD ) new CubeX desktop printer could be the most intriguing.
Relatively affordable at $2,499 (the second-generation entry-level Cube starring in the video below starts at $1,299) and capable of printing basketball-sized objects in tricolor -- a feat that used to require a system orders of magnitude more expensive -- the CubeX is perhaps the most aggressive try yet at making 3-D printing a must-have capability for small businesses and hobbyists. CNET named the device one of its "Best of CES" as a result.
Unfortunately, awards don't necessarily make for mass-market acceptance and 3-D printing has yet to tip the scales. But that also may not be a bad thing. As we see it, 3D Systems and low-end peers such as MakerBot are today where Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) was before the LaserWriter and Aldus' PageMaker software helped give rise to the desktop publishing industry.
Will 3D Systems enjoy its own PageMaker moment? The Cube and CubeX look too unassuming to be that rebellious. We liken the boxy CubeX, in particular, to an Easy Bake Oven crossbred with an inkjet printer, with the obvious difference being that only the CubeX can "print" a basketball-sized object in three colors.
But as analysts for David Gardner's Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service, we also know that mass-market breakthroughs are rarely obvious or predictable. What do you think of the new Cube printers? Click the video to see the device in action and then weigh in using the comments box below.
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