The wish for easy 3D modelling for access to 3D printing …

It has been an amazing year for 3D printing and there are some interesting threads on various blogs to follow on through.

A year ago Fabbaloo posted their “wishes for 2010” and one was for Easy 3D Software as the packages on offer do require a lot of learning to become fully capable. My issue with most is that they have un-needed complexity. With too many functions also cluttering up the interface many are put off by the steep learning curve and thereby exclude from access to 3D printing.  In Fabbaloo’s wish list  there were 2 developments in 2010 they noted that improve the position:

  • Google Sketchup 8 was released, including some interesting features. This free tool is the gateway for many people introduced to the technology.
  • Anarkik3D released version 2 of their haptic-based 3D design software. While not yet widely used, this approach cou

    Anarkik3D: Cloud9 interface and design for bangle

    ld make things a lot easier for 3D modellers.

Anarkik3D’s haptic based 3D design software is Cloud9 and our distributor (A1 Technologies) imports the Falcon haptic device from Novint in the United States, bundles the software and device together and markets the package as Chameleon.

Another blog (RPES blog) on August 10th covered the designer jewellery created by Farah Bandookwala during her Master’s Degree at Edinburgh College of Art. I have already written about Farah’s work in this blog as she had a residency with us in Summer 2009 to investigate using Cloud9 for her work and we have worked closely with her since then.

To quote from Rachel’s blog: ‘Using Chameleon alongside a traditional 3D CAD package, Rhino, Farah found that the differences between the two software packages were extreme. Most notable was that while the 3D CAD offered control and precision with surfaces, it just could not compare with the ability to freely sculpture the shapes by directly deforming and manipulating surfaces to create the desired morphing. Indeed it is the freedom of the software that is one of the greatest attractions for truly creative design, with no constraints.

Farah secured sponsorship with Shapeways and LaserLines to have her designs 3D printed, from concept stage where she experimented with constructions and fastenings, through to the dyed and finished pieces into which she embedded magnets as connectors.

Farah’s work proves that Fabbaloo’s ‘easy 3D software’ wish for 2010 is here already, as Cloud9 has levels of usability and functionality that are balanced, a rubust .stl format for 3D printing (of course) and compatibility with CAD, it is affordable (£495 with the Falcon haptic device) and it is available (A1 Technologies).

Replicator’s  blog on December 23, 2010 about ‘Who is Getting Interested in 3D Printing? Server Log Stories‘ by Joseph Flaherty says that, yes, ‘3D printers are an amazing technology, but haven’t yet broken into the mainstream. Largely because companies haven’t figured out a way to profitably employ them. Yet. However, based on my Google Analytics I can see some interesting companies are looking into the technology. These are big companies and if they apply 3D printing to their businesses it will make for some really awesome products.’

I am interested in Joseph’s focus on Fire Mountain Gems‘ an ecommerce powerhouse that serves the multibillion dollar home jewelry making market. Using their catalog and online shopping carts crafters crank out beautiful pieces of jewelry. It seems though that the folks at Fire Mountain might be interested in how 3D printing could expand their service offering’. How I agree, as I am sure would Farah, as 3D printing materials are developing fast with steel, ceramics and glass now available at Shapeways, expanding the plastics, nylons, and starches, the range of colours, and resolutions now on offer. We will watch with interest and expect to see a category for 3D printed beads in Fire Mountain Gems catalogue!

On Anarkik3D’s blog I am covering an Mcor/Anarkik3D project as Cloud9’s capability for organic forms, combined with 3D printing in layers of coloured paper using Mcor’s Matrix printer, will illustrate beautifully the potential their technology has for designers. I am particularly interested in the use of actual 3D printed pieces as end products.

Joris Peel’s blog at Materialise has a review of the highlights of 2010 and is well worth reading. His clips for November 23rd cover .MGX opening its flagship store in Brussels, the world’s first store for 3D printed goods.

This area of ‘off-the-machine’ making is now a very exciting, well established state of things, with great designs available from a growing number of companies and individuals. One major example –  see the FOC Collection

What would Fabbaloo wish to happen in 2011?

· A capable and assembled 3D printer for under USD$1500. Yes, especially for early concept work.

·  A consumer-oriented online market for 3D models. I agree with them that Thingiverse is oriented around makers, not consumers. Shapeways and Ponoko’s business models could be tweaked to develop a more consumer orientated online resource but Sculpteo has with its company name more potential to attract those customers who are seeking more ‘desirable’ less techie things to 3D print.

It would be good to have somewhere appropriate to put out some 3D Cloud9 designs as .stl that others can access and get printed – as Fabbaloo says ‘Things They Like. Not things that engineers like to print’. I have put one (my apple and worm) on our Anarkikangels’ website – maybe we should have more!

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Summer placement to create new jewellery designs

Farah Bandookwala will be working with Anarkik3D over the summer and her blog with pics of her work in progress can be seen here http://hapticjewellery.ning.com/.

She has opted for a Placement with us as part of her course as an MA Student studying at Edinburgh College of Art. Through a combination of processes including rapid prototyping, she is creating jewellery made up of modular units that allow the wearer to manipulate and transform the adornment as their sense of self changes.

Farah creating haptically

Farah creating haptically

She will explore the use of our haptic application, Cloud9, as a tool, on its own and to make CAD models more dynamic and organic, towards creating forms for rapid manufacture. By having the means to work more intuitively at this concept generation stage she can experiment more deeply and widely with complexity of form, and function to produce 3D prototypes, both digital and tangible to explore and test her premise – the possibility that identity is a fluid entity, and her aim to allow the wearer to convey this changing sense of self over time.

 “Through my work I argue the need for contemporary jewellery to develop and form a new, perhaps much more complex, flexible way of expressing changeable notions of self. Rather than dictating meaning through form or composition, I would like the work to be open to the wearers’ own expression of self over time.”

Makers Faire, Shapeways and Cloud9

large beadsOn Sunday 15th March I took our haptic gear and laptop to the 1st UK Makers Faire that was held in Newcastle as part of the Science Festival there. The main reason for going was to meet up with Joris and Peter Paul of Shapeways to give them a demo of Cloud9 as I am particularly keen for them to understand how easy and intuitive it is to learn and use, and how robust our models are for 3D printing/rapid prototyping.

Shapeways were exhibiting their range of 3D printed models to illustrate both their company’s expertise and the accessibility of the services they offer. In February we added exporting a model in the STL file format to Cloud9 so the model can be processed and 3D printed. We have tested this by getting the model printed by a couple of different places, one being Shapeways. As our haptic software is so easy to learn and use, a much wider range of people are able design and create 3D models and then 3D printing them using services such as Shapeways. So we should both be promoting each other! Here is the link http://www.shapeways.com/ to them and www.anarkikangels.co.uk to us.