Earlier in the year 3D printing evangelist TranPham predicted that within this year we’d have a complete 3D scan to print consumer eco-system, so where will that come from? Who are the frontrunners in the field?
Makerbot seem the most obvious candidate with their announcement that a 3D scanner, Digitizer is coming soon. There’s a great deal of upturned noses from those who’ve been in the game a long time about Makerbot but what’s undeniable is the momentum that is behind them.
While there was huge talk of the Digitizer in the industry, Makerbot slipped another bit of news in that went relatively under the radar; their partnership with Autodesk’s 123D apps. This seems more exciting than the scanner; surely allowing anybody to create a model with his or her phone/tablet and send directly to a 3D printer opens the technology up more than scanning a pre-existing item?
With all that in mind Personalize spoke to Autodesk’s Senior Industry Marketing Manager, Richard Blatcher (RB) and Senior Product Line Manager Kevin Schneider (KS) about Autodesk’s new consumer direction.
Autodesk have traditionally always been a CAD software company for the professional, when did the company decide to take a direction into the consumer market?
RB: It is all about accessibility, one of the key statistics that always amazes me is that for the first 28 years of Autodesk we acquired about 12 million legal customers, but within the last two years we’ve acquired over 100 million. Now we’re on a run rate of about 50 million users of our consumer apps on a monthly basis. So you’re absolutely right, we’re trying to make not only Autodesk, but design available to the masses.
Does this come on the back of the wave of consumer based 3D Printers?
RB: I think it is the trend of accessibility to technology with the web and mobile devices. Another trend is consumer demand, over the years consumers have demanded more personalisation, more access… the consumer wants things and they want it now. A mixture of all those things has become the perfect storm for people’s creative flair and imagination. Ping Fu said this morning [at D3D live] that ‘Innovation is imagination plus application’ we’re [Autodesk] the application.
Autodesk seems to be an unstoppable juggernaut at the minute; there’s been the recent partnership with Lego for their Mindstorm models. What’s next in line for Autodesk?
RB: We’re working on lots of exciting projects, that will be appearing over the next few weeks and months, some professional, some consumer. But you’ll just have to wait and see. Carl Bass will be talking about all of our cloud-based technology like Fusion and Simulation 360, which is all about enabling designers, engineers and manufacturing companies to collaborate anywhere, anytime.
Is the idea behind the partnership between the 123D apps and Makerbot to create a complete design-to-print eco-system?
Kevin Schneider: It’s just the start, particularly in the consumer 3D printing space the stats on the number of failed prints is really high. If we want to make that truly accessible and available to everybody with a lot higher success rate we have to figure out the middleware problem between the design and the actual print. The partnership with Makerbot is the start of both companies heading down that path; I think you’ll see more similar partnerships between companies attempting to make that whole experience much better.
That’s what people want a one click to print system
KS: Exactly, that will take it out of the hands of the individual who is committed to tinkering and calibrating to truly ‘I can unbox it, print and it works’ hat will be a big explosion in accessibility and usability for 3D printing technology. I think that is coming really soon.