Monday, 18 January 2010

3D printing as a service

Every time I see news about 3D printing, I get briefly interested. I would like to have figurines printed of, say, my City of Heroes avatars. I probably won't have 3D printing equipment in my home any time soon, and that's fine, but what if there was a shop I could go to with a 3D model on USB and have it printed for a few dollars?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I expect it would be available as an online service first.
PPS - But I also don't think there's much demand for it yet.

4 comments:

Joris said...

Hello John,

I work for Shapeways and we are an online 3D printing community and service. Yes, there is demand for it. http://www.shapeways.com/

Joris

cwho said...

John,
Yes there is demand. Shapeways is a great service and they have just rolled out color 3d printing. Our service bureau, LGM also does color 3d printing.

For 3d printing though you need to have different geometry than you do for a game. For Games you want as few polygons as possible while still making the character look good. For 3d printing you need more polygons for a smooth character and preferably real displacement on the surface instead of bump maps etc. So geometry processing is non trivial. If you are interested in some of the programming challenges associated with this, let me know. We are actively working on it at CADspan.com. Right now you could import your character into Google Sketchup or something like Blender and work on it to create 3d printable geometry.
Charles

John said...

That's good to know. If I ever get around to it, I might make some orders and see how they turn out.

Chris said...

Cool article, 3d printers in this millenium have opened up a range of new markets which benefit both consumers and businesses. In the past many companies would incur significant development and modelling costs, now 3d printers can be located in the office and operated at a fraction of the price.