Autodesk 123D Make Intro Mobile App Released
Thursday, May 10 - Autodesk has released the iOS version of their 123D Make app. The app contains pre-loaded 3D models that be assembled from 2D pieces. For these pre-loaded models, the app provides step-by-step assembly instructions.
123D Make Intro also features a Create mode where you can draw 2D designs and revolve them into the third dimension. The good people at Ponoko will laser cut the pieces of your model and deliver them directly to your home.
The app looks cool, and Autodesk has shown that they have a knack for user-friendly 3D design tools. I’m really excited to play with 123D Make and see what else Autodesk has in store.
3D Systems Acquires FreshFiber
Tuesday, May 8 - There was yet another acquisition by 3D Systems this week as the 3D giant added “FreshFiber BV” to its catalog. FreshFiber, based out of Amsterdam, specializes in consumer 3D printed products. They achieve their mission of “bringing 3D art and design to consumer electronics” through the production of a lot of cool 3D printed cases for cell phones and iPads. According to Market Watch, FreshFiber is the “leading 3D printed consumer electronics accessories brand sold online and in retail stores today.”
While 3D Systems has been buying up companies left and right, I can definitely understand their interest in a company like FreshFiber. iPhone cases are an excellent product for 3D printing; they’re plastic, prime for customization, and they look great. FreshFiber does something that not many companies currently do, they create 3D printed products that appeal to average consumers. Bravo!
How Did I Not Know about TMF?
Friday, May 4 - I stumbled onto my new favorite website today - ThatsMyFace.com. TMF allows you to upload a picture of yourself and have it rendered and printed in three dimensions. You can throw your head on an action figure, have a framed head emerging from your wall, or even create a lifelike mask out of your own face. As soon as I saw that TMF had a section titled “ornamental heads” I was hooked.
You don’t have to settle for your face, you can take pictures of a celebrity and get a Ryan Gosling head if you’d like. If you do settle for your face, you can change your skin color, gender, and even “beautify” your face!
If I HAD to list my three favorite TMF ideas, they would be:
1. Surprise party where everyone is wearing the guest of honor’s face as a mask.
2. Quietly stash action figures of my coworkers around the office, let them be gradually discovered.
3. Frighteningly hyper-realistic effigy
While the prints are somewhat costly, anyone who’s made a voodoo doll will tell you this level of realism is well worth the price.
Printxel - $300 3D Printer
Thursday, May 3 - It’s impossible to throw a stick on the Internet these days without hitting a crowdfunding 3D printer project, and we struck a new one yesterday. The Printxel (pronounced Print-zl) is a campaign on Kickstarter.com. The Printxel is remarkably inexpensive at just $300 for a complete kit. Adjunct Engineering, the creators of the project, limited the number of kits available to 25, for a total fundraising goal of $7500. The kits sold out in a little less than 11 hours. But, if you’re interested in getting your hands on a Printxel, you can reserve your place in line here. Check out the video for more info.
Wednesday, May 2 - Stratasys will unveil “What’s New in the World of 3D Printing” next Tuesday, May 8th. If you visit their homepage you can see the big orange teaser with a countdown set to end at 10:00 AM (Central Time).
Stratasys certainly has roused curiosity with such an ominous headline and countdown. One possibility is the introduction of a new personal 3D printer. Currently, Stratasys and Objet have no answer to 3D System’s Cubify. With the Cubify set to ship this month, it’s not unlikely that Stratasys and Object will release a home machine in the near future, before 3D Systems is able to gobble up the market. Be sure to check in next Tuesday to learn all about “the magic.”
HooPrint – The 3D-Printed 2D Printer
Students in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department at UVA have developed a 2D printer composed of parts made on a 3D Printer. The video demonstration shows the printer sketching out a few drawings. The print head is simply a pen held in place. The pen follows a programmed path in two-dimensional space.
While this concept is not new, it would be interesting to see the potential of automated art further developed. Sketches could theoretically be purchased or downloaded online through an Etsy or Shapeways-type service and then sketched out manually by the printer for a new, “original” print. Even more exciting would be a machine that could paint as well as draw. Imagine picking out artwork online, tweaking the color scheme to fit your walls, pressing “print,” watching your machine go to work, and picking up a real painting with real brushstrokes.
Prediction: In the future we will exaggerate our artistic ability by filling our sketchbooks with HooPrint drawings. Thank You notes will be typed out on the computer and then printed in beautiful calligraphy, saving us time. We will take snapshots of our families, upload them to the computer, insert ourselves into various historical moments, add our favorite celebrities, and press “print.” Maybe.
Shapeways & SkillShare
Shapeways recently announced that they’d be hosting introductory 3D design classes through SkillShare. SkillShare is a service that allows users to teach or enroll in classes being offered on a tremendous variety of topics. Shapeways has opened a virtual school on SkillShare where you can catch a glimpse of what’s being offered.
The classes currently include:
- Intro to Parametric Design & 3D Printed Jewelry
- Intro to Design for 3D Printing with Shapeways
- Intro to Parametric Design & 3D Printed Wall Art
- How to Design your own Ring and 3D Print it with Shapeways
- Intro to Parametric Design & 3D Printed Building Block Sculptures
- Design your own iPhone Case to be 3D Printed with Shapeways
- Design for 3D Printing with Shapeways
Only three of the seven classes have a scheduled time and place thus far. Two of them will be taught in New York City and one in Los Angeles. Hopefully in the future classes will be available online and anyone can enroll, regardless of their location.
It’s an excellent idea to offer classes like these. Without knowledge of the right software, people are limited to printing Other People’s Designs, or OPD. Best of luck to Shapeways with this great initiative!
Cubify - The Big Boys Get Involved
Friday, April 27 - Cubify is an exciting 3D printer to watch because it comes from 3D Systems, one of the behemoths of the industry. It’s the first large scale attempt by a company that specializes in commercial printing to develop and promote a personal machine.
While the Cube is drawing interest from all age groups, it has some features that make it especially attractive to children. The colorful, simple machine has an inviting, almost toy-like quality. 3D Systems recently acquired My Robot Nation to incorporate into the Cube, reinforcing the notion that getting children excited to use the printer is a high priority. At $1299, the price is comparable to many printers on the market today. Unlike other printers, however, the Cube has unique filament cartridges, which likely means users will need to rely on one source for their plastic. 3D Systems is also hoping that users take to their online pay-per-print service, for which a new Cube comes with 25 free object downloads.
The Cubes begin shipping on May 25th. In the mean time, 3D Systems has been promoting the printer with demonstrations in cities across the U.S. In a product partnership made in heaven, the promoters are traveling exclusively in a decked out Nissan Cube. The team, hereafter referred to as “Cube Squared,” is currently spreading the 3D gospel from coast to coast. Check out Cube Squared’s schedule if you’d like to find a demonstration in your city. Clearly the resources of a large company like 3D Systems will help build the Cube brand as more consumers become interested in 3D printing. It’s interesting to see what qualities a company like 3D Systems has chosen to emphasize in a personal machine, and it will be interesting to see how the Cube is received by the marketplace.
Solidoodle - Sub $500 3D Printer
Solidoodle recently announced the second generation of their personal printers, the aptly named “Solidoodle 2,” for which they are now accepting pre-orders. The most notable feature of the Solidoodle 2 is the price - the machine starts at just $499. Solidoodle emphasizes user friendly, pre-built, ready to use machines, explaining that “this is the printer for people who just want to print, not assemble a machine.”
Solidoodle was founded by Samuel Cervantes, the former COO of MakerBot, after he left in 2010. Cervantes told BetaBeat that his focus has been on making 3D printers that are more affordable and easier to use, rather than dwelling on higher functionality like other companies.
At a lean $499, the base Solidoodle 2 comes in $50 cheaper than the base model of the PrintrBot. The Solidoodle is also available in two higher models. The “Pro” model ($549) and the “Expert” model ($599) each tout features not included on the $499 model, such as heated build platforms and filament spool holders. Be sure to do some research to determine which model suits your needs. Will affordable printers like the Solidoodle and PrintrBot lead the way in popularizing personal 3D printing, or will the increased functionality of more expensive machines prove dominant? I have no idea.
The RepRap blog announced some awesome developments on their filament mixing extruder project. They have been working on an extruder that will mix two filaments together to produce a new color. While it’s still in early development, they’ve given us a sneak peak into their progress.
The extruder works by literally stirring two melted filaments strands together. The RepRap team may soon add a “purge bucket” to empty the stir chamber between color changes. These models above were made with no control over the amount of filament being pushed into the extruder. Adjusting the rate at which each filament is added will enable a nice spectrum of colors between two given filaments.
After perfecting the art of mixing two filaments, perhaps this could lead to the mixing of three? Cyan, Yellow, and Magenta would be some top picks. While it’s still very early, the prospect of multicolor personal 3D printing is quite exciting.