Saturday, January 14, 2012

3D Chickens vs. 3D Eggs

The age old question... which came first?  The chicken or the egg?

This, in fact, has been and is a real dilemma when it comes to the success of a 3D printer for the home.  Software is critical to the success of the Cube.  But, the Cube us critical to innovation in 3D software.

Well, actually it was the potential shown by the RepRap 3D printers that probably ramped up the interest in easier 3D software.  But, the Cube and future home 3D printers will really light a fire under enterprising designers.

I have absolutely no idea what 3D Systems is planning to do about providing easy 3D software to their Cube users.  But, I do know that plenty of creative companies and people are recognizing that the future of 3D rests on people being able to create what they see in their minds without jumping through all the hoops of traditional 3D software.

One of my favorite ideas, still in Beta is 123D Catch (formerly PhotoFly) from AutoDesk.  Right now I doubt that it can be used to create a printable model.  But, at some point that will be a reality.  Their 123D Catch application turns a series of 2D images into a 3D model.  Here one of of my favorites that I created from some photos of a tree in the Georgetown are of Washington, DC.

Here is another created using a turntable and a small model of a fire truck

And, here is one created by taking photos of an actual 1926 American LaFrance fire truck that was displayed at the Montgomery County Fair.

None of these are perfect models.  But, the software is a work in progress and eventually, no doubt,  models created with this technology will be able to be converted into a form that can be printed by a consumer 3D printer.  Of course, we can't expect the Cube to produce this level of detail.  But, the mere fact that the Cube has broken open the door to consumer 3D printing has to be an encouragement to Autodesk and others interested in making creating 3D objects easier.

Autodesk is a big company.  But, it doesn't take a big company to break new ground when it comes to 3D innovation.  I'm REALLY impressed by this little iPhone app from Tridimensional!

And, it appears that this app DOES create a 3D object that can be printed on a Cube!

So, now we have BOTH the chicken AND the egg!  It's all converging to produce, we all hope, the perfect 3D storm blowing up some wild creative winds!

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