Microsoft Windows 8 users soon will be able to directly print to a 3D printer from within the OS, an advancement that is poised to bring 3D printing to the masses.
Autodesk will be the first software company to take advantage of the 3D printer pipeline that will be available in the upcoming Windows 8.1 update release, Camille Caron, Autodesk business development manager, told Design News in an email. Microsoft has said the Windows 8.1 update release is scheduled for general availability later this year.
Once that software is available, users can hit “Ctrl+P” from within Autodesk’s 123D family of applications to print designs via a MakerBot desktop or Objet 3D printer connected to Windows. 123D includes the Autodesk 3D Printing Utility, which is currently connected to printer-specific software for these printers. “Essentially, the 3D printing experience will mirror how folks currently print to 2D printers, without the need to go through a printer-specific application, as you have to do today,” Caron told us. Autodesk recently demonstrated the technology at the Microsoft Build developer conference in San Francisco.
Autodesk’s 123D family of apps will be the first to take advantage of the direct 3D print function that will soon be available in Windows through a Windows 8.1 update. (Source: Autodesk)
Specifically, to leverage the functionality, someone using 123D Design -- which, like the other 123D apps, is available in a web-based version, as well as on both the PC and Mac platforms -- would open their model within the app. Alternatively, they could open a model from the 123D Gallery app if it wasn’t one they originated themselves, she said.
To open the Autodesk 3D Print Utility in 123D Design, a user would select File > 3D Print. This is where the support for direct 3D printing would come into play and make it easy to print a 3D model. “The Autodesk 3D Print Utility performs a geometry check, auto repairs, and optimizes the model to improve the final 3D-printed object,” Caron said. “The 3D Print Utility can additionally hollow, adaptively thicken, and re-orient the model for minimum support material requirements, and can provide outputs for popular 3D-printing file formats (.stl, .thing, .amf) if you wish to share the file with others, too.”
In addition to 123D Design and 123D Gallery, the functionality also will be available in Autodesk’s 123D Catch and 123D Make applications.
I agree, Greg. Five years ago, 3D printing sounded like something from a science fiction novel. Today, its reach has extended beyond the techies and into everyday vocabulary. Microsoft's connection to it will only reinforce that trend.
I agree with you. Once Microsoft creates a direct application, you know that a technology has truly arrived. It's enjoyable for me to see more and more people get excited over 3D printing (which was once a specialized, niche technology when I first entered the engineering workforce).
IMO I feel it's a good move by Microsoft. They have to find solutions which will make the users forget or take their minds off from the Windows 8 drama. This will be embraced by the Windows 8 users in a much more positive and proactive manner for sure.
I believe that too, Charles. Now if Win 8.1 will be supported by a lot of other manufacturers, it will be fine. I downloaded the 8.1 preview and a number of my programs stopped functioning (mainly Trend Micro Titanium Antivirus). But I think this will make 3D printing available to anyone who really wants it.
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