While the 3D/DC conference in Washington recently was focused on intellectual property (IP) issues, Autodesk announced its plans to release a consumer targeted, free design tool called 123D, that it hopes will not only enable anyone to design a product for a 3D printer, but that will also help develop a new market for Autodesk.
The 3D/DC conference at least brought some attention to the issue of IP, but as presenter Cathy Lewis, Vice President of Global Marketing, 3D Systems, observed, IP did not seem to be a huge issue to those who attended because they are the people who want to make things but haven’t quite become entrepreneurs who see the value of protecting their revenue stream, yet. “We’re still in the kit space, this quasi open-source space. As an industry, not all the elements are in place yet, such as easy to use software, to have a true consumer offering. But this industry is close.” She noted that about 75% of the audience already knew what 3D was, and that about 35% owned a 3D printer.
So that audience was already part of the “faithful.” The AM industry still needs to grow the overall market. But it does appear as if there are two markets now—engineers who use this technology in their day-to-day jobs, and enthusiasts who simply like to make things and now have the ability to do so relatively inexpensively.
Cathy noted that few policy-making legislators attended the conference, which is a bit disappointing, but it is a first step.
At the recent Wired magazine sponsored Business Conference–Disruptive by Design, Autodesk CEO Carl Bass announced the launch of a consumer targeted, free design tool called 123D. This tool holds the promise of bringing easy to use software to the non-engineer.
Claimed Bass at the event, the software will allow anyone to design 3D models, and then turn them into real products. Bass articulated what many people are starting to see—that innovation is coming from the ground up, rather than “trickling down from mega-institutions and companies;” . . . that there is “an unbelievable community of people who want to be making things.”
To develop 123D, Autodesk teamed up with Ponoko and Techshop (a partner of 3D Systems) to help these people produce products. Ponoko has an online platform, Personal Factory, to turn digital files into physical products using additive manufacturing systems like 3D printers. This service lets people send their designs to the company, which then makes the parts and sends them back to the consumer for assembly.
A membership at Techshop, which has facilities in various cities in the U.S., lets users buy materials and assemble their idea at a facility, where you can work side by side with other creative individuals.
Autodesk 123D will be available soon.