Inventables' Shapeoko 2 desktop computer controlled (CNC) milling machine just got a whole lot more attractive. The company's new Easel tool is a free design and fabrication web app designed for the $650 open-source kit, which launched last October. The new duo will enable you to design objects in 2D with a real-time 3D preview, then "print" your creation using a USB-equipped CNC milling machine (such as the Shapeoko) with wood, plastic or soft metal. Best of all, Inventables has whipped up an interface so straightforward even an Engadget editor could figure it out. Creating designs, such as the bottle opener we tossed together is a simple drag and drop affair, and requires no prior experience. While you should be able to design basic objects in less than five minutes, assembling a Shapeoko can take considerably more time. Fortunately, Zach Kaplan happened to have one ready to go, so we caught up with the Inventables CEO to try out the new cloud-based design tool here at SXSW.
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Terrence O'Brien contributed to this report.