Some news hot off the press this afternoon, with Autodesk making two key announcements at Makercon, where the company’s CEO is speaking. The first is that the company is launching an open platform to assist with making 3D printing easier – for the consumer and the professional alike. In a blog post, Autodesk’s CEO, Carl Bass, says it’s “an open software platform for 3D printing called Spark, which will make it more reliable yet simpler to print 3D models, and easier to control how that model is actually printed.”
While this isn’t a massive surprise given Autodesk’s push into all things ‘make’ in recent years, the next part of the announcement most certainly will be for most.
Autodesk is launching its own 3D printer. In the same blog post, Bass states that the company “will be introducing our own 3D printer that will serve as a reference implementation for Spark. It will demonstrate the power of the Spark platform and set a new benchmark for the 3D printing user experience.“
What’s intriguing is that both of these products/platforms are going to be open. As Bass comments, “Spark will be open and freely licensable to hardware manufacturers and others who are interested. Same for our 3D printer – the complete design of the printer will be made publicly available to allow for further development and experimentation. The printer will be able to use a broad range of materials, made by us and by others, and we look forward to lots of exploration into new materials.” Details are scarce, but the gist is, you want a printer, they’ll ship on, you want just the plans, you can have those.
While I’m sure the mainstream media and 3D print zealots/buffoons are going to go nuts over this, I’ve got a little bit of the inside track and while we’re under obligation not to share much of that just yet, I can tell you it’s a stereolithographic device that has some very interesting capabilities. It’s also British – in terms of both the research and development and its progression into a product – we’ll talk about how it all came about when we can.
There’s a place to sign up to learn more as things come together. www.autodesk.com/spark – plans are that both Spark and the 3D printer will be available later this year.