- Poor specification methods
- Lack of scalable software architectures
- Giga- and Tera- voxels per volume
- Continuous gradation between materials
- Reusable material definitions
- Resolution and printer independence
Entries in model (142)
by General Fabb
Developed by MIT and presented at this year's SIGGRAPH conference, OpenFab proposes a way to more easily produce incredibly complex milt-material objects.
OpenFab is not a 3D printer; it is a software "pipeline" of steps that enable the creation of complex, multi-material 3D models that can then be printed on a 3D printer capable of mixing materials during printing.
At this time, only Stratasys/Objet has the technology to mix materials with their patented PolyJet process. It permits two different materials to be mixed on the fly in up to 13 different mix ratios. However, it's very likely future 3D printers will be able to mix more than two materials.
And that's where things get complicated. How do you handle models that involve mixed materials? Did you ever wonder why PolyJet sample prints usually have only one or two mixes of materials on only a couple sections of the model? There's a reason why. The MIT team identified these challenges:
Imagine a 3D print of an organic object that includes numerous hard and soft areas, flexible joints, internal stress-carrying features, with multiple textures and colors, all flowing seamlessly and gradually throughout the entire model. How would you go about producing such a 3D model? You can't.
It sounds difficult to solve, and it is. Nevertheless, OpenFab describes a multi-step process for handling these issues to produce multi-material 3D models.
Obviously, this is research work and you can't make much use of this today. However, we believe this research will lead to a vastly more powerful 3D printing world in the future.
Ryan Boyle of The Hive has produced a tutorial showing the process of designing and 3D printing a unique character using Cinema 4D 3D modeling software.
Most of the video walks through the design process in Cinema 4D. It's a high-powered 3D modeling tool that is not often mentioned by those in the 3D printing world, but as this video shows, it is quite capable of producing printable 3D models, unlike some other popular 3D modeling tools.
We're interested in this video because it shows in some detail the design process using a high-end tool. If you've never seen an item being designed in 3D, this is the video you should watch.
At the end of the video, Boyle simply pushes "print" and his MakerBot produces the character. That tells you the true story of 3D printing - it's not the printer, it's the design that counts.
Via The Hive
Shortly after we suggested Apple won't be 3D printing anytime soon, they took a teeny tiny step in that direction.
According to a report on AppleInsider, Apple has patented a system for accepting 3D input. As you can see in the diagram (and much more available at AppleInsider), hand gestures would capture 3D movements that could then be used by any app. Presumably this could be used by 3D modeling software to simplify the 3D interface. There would be no need to purchase a SpaceNavigator ever again, if this were implemented!
But the patent doesn't explicitly spell out Apple's intentions, other than to "generate and manipulate 3D objects using 3D gesture inputs." All we know is that this is a step into 3D processing that takes us closer to 3D printing. By establishing a means of 3D input, Apple has made the first step in the lifecycle of 3D printing: model creation.
Except there's one issue.
This is ONLY a patent. It is not a product, nor is there any guarantee of Apple ever making a product from this invention. Apple owns many patents that they will never use.
But we hope this one becomes a reality.
Meanwhile, there is still no signs of Apple working directly on 3D printing.
HBO has squashed a new 3D printed product by nuPROTO 3D print artist Fernando Sosa.
The product, "Throne Dock" is an iPhone/Android docking station inspired by the hugely popular HBO series, "Game of Thrones". At first, it seems like a good idea: "Let your friends and coworkers tremble at the sight of your Throne Dock."
But then HBO intervened. nuPROTO's updates tell the story:
Due to a cease and desist letter from HBO we are pulling the product until we can work something out with HBO. Keep checking our site and blog for an update of this matter. Thanks for the interest and please check out our other product development services and other products.
HBO declined our offer to license the throne charging station because another company has licensed the idea of a throne charging station. Money will be refunded to those few who bought this product and we apologize if anyone thought this was anything more than inspired fan art work.(PS. we are working on something better)
So it goes. The moral of the story here is that just because you can design something, you don't always have the legal right to do so. Our advice: be creative, be unique and always build your own thing.
Those software wizards at Cubify are at it again. After generating who-knows-how-many 3D model generators this year, they've now released another new tool: Cubify Sculpt.
The new tool hopes to simplify the process of creating 3D models for printing on (presumably) 3D System's Cube and CubeX personal 3D printers. The theme of this software: "Virtual Clay".
Cubify Sculpt differs from many other 3D model tools as it uses a "push-pull" design approach. You begin with a solid shape (sphere) and the tool provides various means of poking at it. You'll gradually "deform" the initial shape into one you're trying to make. This technique avoids use of potentially confusing primitive shapes and complex modifiers often found in other 3D modeling tools. The other big advantage is that 3D models created in this way are guaranteed to be printable.
While there are other tools that use a similar push-pull approach, Cubify Sculpt seems to include a number of added features that should make 3D printing easy. One such feature we noticed was the ability to slice off the bottom of your shape to form a flat bottom, suitable for 3D printing.
If you're interested in this tool, you'll be able to purchase it for USD$129 from Cubify's site. One beef we have, however, is that it is only available for Windows software. If Cubify's strategy with Sculpt is broadening their reach to the general public, they should also provide an OS/X version as well.
We've uncovered yet another 3D model store, the 3D-Lab Store. Like many similar ventures, Poland-based 3D-Lab Store offers shoppers the opportunity to select a 3D print from a set of models. Some of the pieces offer sizing and color choices, which is particularly useful for bracelets.
Objects are printed in various colors of PLA plastic and are offered inexpensively, typically USD$8-15. However, as this operation is based in Poland, the pricing is in Zloty.
The 3D-Lab Store doesn't seem to have a huge product catalog at the moment, indicating the problem with this type of venture at this point in the 3D printing lifecycle: There are many similar operations launching simultaneously, each having near identical offerings. Few of them can compete with Thingiverse, however, which has a rather large selection of completely free objects.
But there's one unique feature held by the 3D-Lab Store: it's localized. For Polish visitors, it offers Polish language services and pricing. Beat that, Thingiverse!
Via 3D-Lab Store
Here's a free, web-based experimental tool that can quickly create interesting 3D models. SculptGL, created by Stéphane Ginier, provides a visual 3D model with very few tools. But the ones provided are sufficient to push, pull, tweak and pinch your model into the shape you want.
SculptGL starts with a simple sphere, which you distort with the various tools. Pick a tool, such as "Inflate" and mouse over top of the sphere and you'll quickly see a bulge appearing. Hit the "Negative" box and the bulge will shrink instead of growing. The "Symmetry" box ensures each side of the sphere will have equal distortion, making it easy to create symmetric shapes like faces or bodies.
There's no precision to SculptGL; you simply push and pull your model as if it were clay in your hands. Ironically, or perhaps purposely, SculptGL's default shader is "clay".
Once your model has been completed, you can freely export it in .OBJ format, which is easily convertible into STL for printing with the free utility MeshLab.
A new browser-based 3D modeling tool has emerged: Leopoly. The new service presents simple-to-use methods of creating 3D objects.
Leopoly focuses on the community dimension: created objects are shared among the community, who can build new objects based on yours. Tweeting, posting and tagging ensure wide visibility of Leopoly creations.
Creating objects is quite straightforward. The 3D editor starts with an existing object, typically a simple shape like a sphere, which you can modify by pushing, pulling, smoothing and similar functions.
One feature we especially liked was the true 3D view. In the image above the model is shown in Red-Blue 3D format. If you happen to have a set of those goofy 3D color glasses like we do, you can actually see the object in true 3D.
While Leopoly offers simple editing, it doesn't have many features useful for 3D printing, at least at this time. You cannot, as far as we can tell, export a model in a format suitable for 3D printing. There are no functions for producing flat surfaces, often required for ensuring a fit to your 3D printer's bed. There is no way to specify sizing or dimensions. It's a free form tool with which you make simple organic objects.
Leopoly offers a beta test of their Windows non-browser version, which enables offline 3D modeling similar to the web version. We're hoping they include some key 3D printing features in future versions.
California-based Atheer is developing an advanced wearable 3D visual display that should be available in 2014. The as-yet-unnamed product appears to be a set of North Korean-style glasses that display 3D information to each eye.
You might think Atheer is repeating Google's Glass product, but they're not. Atheer's product will be completely standalone and offer a variety of advanced augmented reality and comfort features. They have several patents related to managing the display to ensure visibility, recognize faces, recognize gestures and more. They say you won't get dizzy or have blurry vision when using their technology.
Why are we so interested in this? We think this could be an excellent platform on which could be built a pretty rad 3D modeling service. Imagine being able to lift, push, twist and shape in 3D, right before your eyes. This could be a way to more easily develop complex 3D models with limited design experience.
It just might look a little strange to someone watching, though.
Via Atheer Labs
This isn't science fiction. ThinkerThing's goal is to develop a system for actually reading your thoughts and sending them directly to a 3D printer for production. They say:
We have built a machine that will allow you to make real objects with your mind.
Incredible as this sounds, it does seem doable by combining the magic of 3D printing with Emotiv's EPOC brain sensor. The EPOC is a "high resolution, multi-channel, wireless neuroheadset" that is capable of detecting electrical signals emanating from within your brain.
That's correct - it reads your mind.
ThinkerThing's project is to meld a neuroheadset with 3D printing software and hardware to enable creation of objects simply by mind control. The project was funded by the Chilean government and a small (now closed) Indiegogo campaign.
They believe significant barriers exist for children to use 3D printing technology, primarily the expensive and highly complex 3D development software currently in use. Their project hopes to eliminate that barrier, enabling children to "build real objects with no prior experience".
The software uses a generative technique based on an initial seed framework. The designer's "thinking" directs the generative process to arrive at a final 3D model. Their first application, called "Monster Dreamer", permits children to direct the development of creature 3D models merely by thought. It seems that they plan to develop a line of such "dreamers" for different types of models.
We've seen several interesting techniques trying to simplify the process of 3D design, but this one is surely the most interesting.