Frequent readers of Rapid Ready probably realize that I believe 3D printing is on the verge of changing from prototyping juggernaut to transformative technology. As 3D printers get cheaper, they come into practical reach of more consumers. One of the missing puzzle pieces so far has been an easy way to create 3D images for consumers to print out.
That particular puzzle piece may have been provided by Autodesk 123D Sculpt , an app for the iPad. In place of complex CAD programs, 123D uses the touch screen technology of the iPad to allow users to create 3D images just by drawing them with a finger.
We aren’t talking about fuzzy images or low resolution that would make poor files to print from, either. The images created with the new app are highly detailed and customizable. Individual colors can be added to different parts of the models to create fairly realistic digital sculptures.
The entire mesh frame can be manipulated at any time during the creation process, allowing for tweaks as the whole advances. Further, the portable nature of the iPad also means you aren’t tied to your desk during creation.
Even for people with modest drawing skills, the app could still be useful. Users could download a 3D image created by someone else and alter it to fit their own needs.
Some of the promise of this new program is still unfulfilled. The current iteration doesn’t allow files to be exported. I’d be surprised if that particular problem remained unresolved for very long. The possibility to be productive while traveling or remote is blunted without an export function, and Autodesk must realize that.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Try it out for yourself. The app is currently available for free at the Apple app store. I’d love to hear from designers after they’ve tried the program if they think 123D Sculpt shows as much promise as I think it does.
Below you’ll find a short video that demonstrates the app.