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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Farah’s jewellery: organic forms extending the CAD aesthetic

'Parasite' bangle1 by Farah Bandookwala

'Parasite' bangle1

This is the same blog that I have posted on our anarkikangels website forum – except is has a photo! This is about Farah Bandookwala, an MFA student, who has used Cloud9 and Rhino to design the range of jewellery that she is presenting at the Edinburgh Degree Shows (12 – 20 June 2010). All the work is 3D printed (at Shapeways) in different materials, finished, coloured by hand and very wearable. Here is her web site www.farahb.com where she has photos of all her pieces and statements about the concepts behind the designs.

Her work illustrates how Cloud9 can be used to advantage in combination with CAD to develop concepts to a high level of professionalism, to execute through 3D printing very exciting and wearable jewellery with a different aesthetic from that of the mainstream of digitally designed artifacts.

Here is a statement by David Poston, one of the participants in the DrawnReality Project, using the original proof of concept haptic sketchmodelling software that used touch, 6 degrees of freedom and ‘3D vision’ that has morphed into Cloud9 (haptic, 3 degrees of freedom, and very affordable). This was made after approximately 4 days using the DrawnReality application and an output of 9 designs which can be seen here with work by other designers and applied artists http://www.anarkikangels.co.uk/PhotoGallery.aspx?a=0):
‘Using a CAD system for design work generally requires that a clear idea of the output has already been established before starting to use the system, since to a significant extent the drawing process has to be planned in relation to the intended outcome.

By contrast, DrawnReality (DR) requires little or no preconception prior to beginning to work with it.  The process closely resembles the designer’s normal drawing process, but rapidly, in 3D.  Saving objects at different stages makes the process more tolerant of experiment and risk, because there is less economic imperative to commit to a particular avenue or train of thought at an early stage. 
If the 2D drawing of design ideas amounts to synthesizing approximations of the possible outcomes then the virtual reality of DR greatly speeds and advances this process.
Whereas CAD is a primarily intellectual tool involving an extensive learning curve, DR exploits instinctual capacity and tacit knowledge, allowing significant creative freedom from an early stage.
The comparative advantages of CAD and DR are quite distinct and complementary; each is an extremely important tool.’  Dr David Poston PhD FRSA 20.06.08

I look forward to a healthy discussions on this topic about Cloud9 being a valuable addition to the range of tools that designers can use to provide a new aesthetic to designing on computer to differentiate their work.

Anarkikangels as crowd sourcing

I had an interesting email from RHINO announcing that they are beginning ‘public development’ of their CAD software, i.e. using the crowd for iterative development via their feedback. This is mostly what AnarkikAngels is about and our website covers the main reasons for adopting a crowd sourcing model for developing Cloud9 as a haptic sketch/modelling application, plus funding the development. We spent the best part of 18 months investigating how best to do this, listening to both detractors, advocates and enthusiasts.

So it is very gratifying to read that Rhino are to use this type of model to develop their next version of their great CAD software from prototype to Beta to release. 

 

Also, on the 4iP website ‘38minutes’, where I have joined 2 groups, one of these groups, ‘Crowdsourcing for Crowdsourcing’, started a discussion last November. One stream is about the value of developing a tool for crowdsourcing. I am kind of sceptical about this as there are so many different reasons for crowdsourcing and therefore various ways of doing this – can one tool cover all the methods needed for different types of crowdsourcing without getting overly complicated (I am a great advocate of ‘slow’ everything …. but what has slow got to do with complexity, hey!)?

 

I have been mulling over this idea of a tool as we are going to have to develop tools for our website to enable us to efficiently and fairly manage the feedback. This is not just about information to inform development but also needs to be the communication channel for a) digging deeper into the why’s and where fore’s within the feedback received and b) reasons behind how we select to develop one feature over another. Maybe the forum format is the best method, with blogs to cover other issues that are pertinent.

 

It will be interesting to see how this pans out as I also think that there are so many tools already out there it is just a matter of how these are pulled together under one ‘roof’ as it were, hoping there is enough compatibility between them to avoid the domino effect where one crashes, they all crash!

All comments gratefully received!   See www.anarkikangels.co.uk