PrinCube – awesome little printer that fits in the palm of your hand
This story comes from a need to print text and logos on different types of surfaces. Mostly uneven or textured. Our objective was to find a way to print on baked goods. Like muffins, cakes, sugar fondant, etc.
Here comes PrinCube or Mbrush? This thing comes in many names but the two are the most common.
As you can see from the specification it is quite a tiny device that can fit an ink cartridge inside of it. It has little rollers on the bottom to ease motion and the optical sensor works like a mouse to detect motion to start printing.
The way it works is that once turned on it has an AP hotspot that it hosts. You connect to it using your preferred device like a computer or phone. It hosts a little web interface where you can edit and manage the different things you want to print.
The interface is pretty simple but has the necessary options to get the job done. You resize, crop, edit, and press print which uploads the selected image and it can be printed.
As mentioned you can use this interface on the phone or computer. The printer has an internal battery and can work wireless or wired via USB-C. Very versatile and travel-friendly. Quickly boots and can be used in under a minute.
The main problem with this comes in learning to use it. Since you have to drag the printer for it to print. You have to learn the drag speed yourself to always have consistent prints and not washed-out objects. It does feature multi-line prints where you can print a large image in multiple lines, but honestly, I have never been able to use it properly. Trying to line up the height and distance from the start print account for the drag speed to be accurate it’s almost impossible for me although there are videos that have managed to do it. You can see someone doing it here:
The black carton-type rulers are included in the box but I have never had any use for them. What we use instead is a little guide that you can 3D print on Thingiverse thanks to Fangli:
This usually helps because the printer is fixed in place while printing. I have another little contraption that I made myself because we have uneven things to print on like Macarons for example:
Although possible with the guide above it is quite difficult to hold it in place and print without doing something wrong. So I designed this:
What it does is have a little platform that can be height-adjusted. An object is placed below and aligned in the cutout. As can be seen by the blue example cube. You lower it down close enough. No actual contact comes in place only the ink is sprayed on while printing giving a great picture like the Macarons above.
These are just some of the applications you can use them for. We specifically use edible ink and these types of prints. While you could print on many things. Clothes, paper, leather, etc. The printer uses a simple HP62 ink cartridge you can use a color or a black ink cartridge whichever you prefer.
One last thing is that this printer is maintained meaning you can potentially get updates. As I have found there is a GitHub page here https://github.com/dukelec/mb that has a collection of firmwares. When I checked once I got the printer the stock printer was older than the one on Git. The upgrade gave one good feature as it made some changes to the way color is output from the printer and the prints were more vibrant and not so washed out in color even then there is an added intensity slider in the settings as well.
The one thing I would caution if attempting to use this is that even if printing on an even surface check for any parts that may stick out like crumbs or any hard bumps. We have sadly destroyed more than one ink cartridge as there is barely any distance between the cartridge nozzle and the surface when printing. So if it accidentally bumps into something it can get easily damaged. Although cartridges can be replaced, they are not cheap.
So that’s pretty much it for this one. I’ll add some links where to possibly get one if you are interested.