There's been a fundamental disconnect for as long as desktop 3D printers have been an affordable reality: how can consumers easily create 3D models to be printed? At the moment, the best solutions for finding objects to 3D print are databases like Thingiverse -- places where you can search for and download files that most closely match what you're looking to create. The shortcoming with such systems is clear: what happens when no one's taken the time to create the files you want? Two other, more customizable solutions are steadily becoming a reality for home users. The first is 3D scanning, as typified by products like Microsoft's next-gen Kinect and MakerBot's prototypical, lazy Susan-esque Digitizer.
Even once these become more mainstream products, however, they'll no doubt continue to have their shortcomings. Namely, how to create a product from scratch and how to touch up an existing object. That's where software solutions come in, and 3D Systems has been hard at work on a product it's sure will help bridge the gap between your imagination and the print platform. Cubify Sculpt is a sort of Photoshop for 3D printing, a simplified tool that doesn't require any sort of knowledge in the world of CAD to help make an idea a 3D-printed reality.
Sculpt really is an apt name here. When you start, you're essentially given a lump of round computer clay. You can add or remove material, smooth, elongate and generally bend it to your will. If the object you've got in mind is symmetrical, you can mirror the image for faster, more accurate results. Playing around with Sculpt a bit, it's easy to get carried away. It really is fun, and we could see it being even more compelling with the addition of a touchscreen or an interface like Leap Motion or the Kinect. It's not easy, however, as you can see in the above video. The results aren't exactly precise when you're doing something simple like sculpting a face. Unless you can become a real Sculpt artist, this aspect of the software will likely be little more than a fun tool.
The applications are a lot more compelling, however, when it comes to things like mashups. The really cool thing here is that you can import a 3D file and adjust or add to it, as you'll see in the creepy example, below, of the company's CEO Avi Reichental's face being added to the body of the sphinx. We've got a copy of the mashup sitting right in front of us, and it gives us chills. Nice work, 3D Systems. Once imported, fixing things up is fairly easy. You can re-size, rotate and smooth out connections. When you're all done, you can either print it up at home or send it to 3D Systems to have the company print it up with one of their industrial devices.
Sculpt is available today at $129 for Windows machines only (3D Systems is working on a Mac version, but there's no firm word on that end). You can also download a 14-day free trial from the company's site. It's a promising solution, and one we'd like to spend some more time with. As with scanners, we don't expect it to be a catchall for most users, but combined with one of those devices, it may well be a powerful tool indeed.
3D Systems Launches Cubify Sculpt
3D Systems announced today the immediate availability of Cubify Sculpt, a powerful virtual clay sculpting tool that transforms 3D modeling from a complex, skills-centric design experience to a simple, intuitive sculpting delight for everyone. Cubify Sculpt, powered by 3D Systems' volumetric CAD engine, is ideal for the freeforming of organic shapes with ready-to-print output. Cubify Sculpt comes with a 14-day free trial, it is priced at $129, and available now on Cubify,
Cubify Sculpt packs a powerful feature set that includes embossing with textures, adding color with paint for full color 3D printing, intuitive push and pull tools to sculpt in virtual clay and accurate symmetry settings for designing organic shapes. The mash up feature empowers users to import multiple designs to create larger and more complex objects. Cubify Sculpt designs are 3D print-ready for at-home printing or cloud printing with materials like Cubify Ceramix and Cubify Colorstone. Cubify Sculpt accepts STL,
3D Systems Press Release Page 2
OBJ and PLY file formats. 3D Systems plans to fully integrate Cubify Sculpt into its expanding Cubify platform and to its award winning Cube and CubeX 3D printer experiences with direct plugins.
"Cubify Sculpt shifts the 3D modeling tools paradigm making design for instant 3D printing something everyone can do," said Rajeev Kulkarni, Vice President General Manager Consumer Products for 3D Systems, "Our new virtual sculpting experience sets the stage for mainstream users to create and make everyday useful and impactful printables."