MakerBot, a company that focuses on 3D printing, held an event at the SXSW conference in Austin yesterday, where it announced a new partnership with Autodesk, a company that specializes in 3D design software.
The two companies plan to team up to jointly develop a combination of 3D design software and 3D printing hardware, which is ultra exciting because it means 3D designing and printing can be placed in the hands of beginners and amateur artists, with the iPad serving as the perfect design tool.
If you’re not familiar with MakerBot, for the past few years, the company has been working hard on creating consumer ready 3D printers and Autodesk, though creating software primarily aimed at professionals, has lately been trying out consumer-oriented software like 123D Creature. 123D Creature is an app that puts advanced 3D design tools into the hands of beginners, allowing anyone to design and sculpt 3D monsters. It’s fantastically fun.
At the moment, those creatures that you make in 123D Creature can be printed via 3D printing company Sculpteo, but in the future, you might be able to design a creature using the app (or a similar app) and then print it right away from the convenience of your own home.
Autodesk and MakerBot plan to integrate existing apps like 123D Creature with the MakerBot Replicator, making it simple to quickly print 3D models. While the pricing isn’t quite ready for home use, it is fantastic technology that we might soon be seeing in schools and colleges.
Traditional 3D printers cost upwards of $10,000, which means the average user can’t exactly run out and buy one. MakerBot, though, has the MakerBot Replicator available for $2,700. Sure, it’s still wildly expensive, but it’s far more affordable than professional 3D printers.
“Our goal is to continue making 3D printing from our applications simpler and more straightforward, and optimizing the Autodesk 123D family to work with MakerBot printers delivers on this promise by enabling our community to print their creations with greater ease,” said Samir Hanna, vice president of Consumer Products at Autodesk. “Our collaboration will help accelerate the next industrial revolution, and we are excited to work with MakerBot to make this happen.”
App makers like Autodesk are increasingly incorporating 3D printing into apps. For example, Let’s Create! Pottery HD recently added an update to its app that allows users to print their pottery creations through a 3D printing company. This is a trend that is sure to catch on with developers as 3D printing becomes more accessible to users.
Imagine using an app on the iPad to create a toy, a vase, or anything else you can dream up and then sending it to your home 3D printer. Or imagine a classroom where students sculpt 3D models on the iPad, and then print them right in the room. Autodesk and MakerBot are two companies turning that idea into a reality, which is very exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing additional iPad apps incorporate 3D printing as it becomes more mainstream because we’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s possible.