There's been tons of attention and excitement here and elsewhere (and rightly so) about the spate of new, low-cost 3D printers that promise to make the technology far more accessible to hobbyists and even small engineering shops. But one of the big roadblocks in promoting the so-called mainstreaming of 3D printing is content creation. Let's face it. Not everyone is a whiz with CAD software.
The 123D Catch tool, available now on the iPad as well as on Windows platforms, is essentially a phone scene editor that lets anyone with a mobile phone or tablet camera (or, yes, a high-end digital SLR camera) take a series of photographs and turn them into a realistic, accurate 3D representation without any formal training in CAD modeling. The captured images (Autodesk recommends between 40 and 60 photos) are uploaded to the Autodesk cloud service, where special technology analyzes them to create a geometrically accurate representation that can then be downloaded as standard Autodesk 3DP or OBJ files.
Now 123D Catch lets users take images from an iPad camera, upload them to the Autodesk cloud, and transform them into a 3D model.
Now that this is available as an iPad app, anyone could take their vacation photos and turn them into a 3D model that, with the help of the companion 123D Make software, could be output using 3D printing technology. The 123D Make tool, which is also now available on the Mac, converts 123D Catch 3D models into 2D cut patterns or in formats that can be output by standard 3D printers or 3D print fabrication services. Inventors could output common household objects -- vases, hardware, car parts. This would be a steppingstone to what many pundits are calling personal manufacturing.
Sculpteo, an online 3D printing service provider, is also doing its part to promote personal manufacturing. In January, the company announced its 3D Printing Cloud Engine, a "white label" service that can be easily integrated into online retailers' Websites, allowing customers to order items and print them on demand. When it unveiled the service, Sculpteo said it aimed to become the "PayPal of the 3D printing industry." The company is planning a series of iPad apps to facilitate the development and purchase of personal creations.
Cadman-LT, the materials for making marble replicas look like marble, and stone like stone, etc. already exist. They were used for decades to make replicas--but not used in 3D printers. So I'm wondering whether it's possible to invent new materials like those for this purpose that can be used in 3D printers. Two reasons for wondering this: a) the older, more authentic looking and feeling materials that produced medium-range-priced statues, etc. are no longer in favor. Instead, much of what I've seen are made with resins that produce cheaper replicas with finer surface detail, but with a Barbie doll feel. b) 3D printers do such a good job of replicating detail quickly and are becoming less expensive all the time. a) is the problem, b) might be a solution.
Now this isn't for replicas, but it would be good for sculptors. If they had a 3d medium to work in, maybe like a 3d hologram. They could have haptic feedback so it feels like clay(or whatever medium) and sculpt the hologram. Then just export that to a file nd print it out to a 3d printer. It's years away, but I bet it's the future.
Cadman-LT, I don't see why not, either. Except that's apparently a more expensive process. I didn't mind paying more for better quality statue and artifact reproductions, but apparently the museums and some of the third-party vendors decided to make them a lot cheaper with plastics. I don't know if the plastics they're now using for cheaper statues, etc. are made with 3D printing methods. In any case, the materials used with those machines must be designed for them. So that's why I'm wondering about how likely it is that new materials based on natural ones could be designed for 3D printing.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.