3D printing for the masses!
Researchers have printed a 3D replica of Ned Kelly’s head, on show at the University of Melbourne 3D showcase earlier this month.
Microsoft is hoping to bring 3D printing to the masses with the launch of a free 3D printing app for Windows 8.1 devices.
3D Builder hit the Windows Store in Australia and the US last week and will be progressively rolled out to other countries.
Artist Scott Selkirk with his original sculpture in wood and the 3D printed reproduction in white, at the University of Melbourne 3D showcase earlier this month.
The company said it wanted to make it easy for consumers to experience 3D printing at home with one touch. Microsoft already sells 3D printers from Makerbot through its retail stores in the US and Canada.
Until now, hobbyists and 3D printing enthusiasts had to use open source software and or professional computer-aided design (CAD) systems to print models and prototypes, but Windows machines did not automatically recognise the printers they output to.
Now, the app will download drivers of three known consumer printer models including 3D Cube, Makerbot and Tiertime – to Windows 8.1 devices. It will work on Surface Pro 2 tablets, laptops and notebooks but not on Surface RT as it does not allow driver installations.
The 3D Builder app for Windows 8.1 Photo: Screen shot
Similar to clip art, the app will have stock standard designs – from toys to household ideas like napkin rings – and will allow others to be uploaded.
A three-decade-old technology, 3D printing is only now entering the consumer market. The first home 3D printers are on sale online for about $1000-$2500 and are expected to hit big retail stores in Australia by year’s end around $1500.
But one professional artist is not waiting. Melbourne-based Scott Selkirk used a 3D printer and the help of researchers at the University of Melbourne to reproduce some of his large sculptures. In one case, his original work was shaped from one solid piece of wood and the facsimile printed in 17 parts.
He said rather than threaten original artistic works with possible mass copying, 3D printing is enabling artists to control the limited reproduction of their creations.
“It’s not like printing T-shirts or anything,” said Selkirk who took extra care to ask the university to scan the work and for him to keep the files.
The writer travelled to the Microsoft campus as a guest of the company.
Author: Lia Timson