Many additive manufacturing (AM) experts don’t have much time for home AM systems, and it’s easy to see why. Sales of hobbyist 3D printers have never produced numbers even close to sale figures for professional AM systems, and it’s easy to dismiss the Maker crowd as a bunch of tinkerers. At best, home systems are given credit for raising awareness of the potential of industrial AM.
MakerBot is one company that has bet on both the home market and the “prosumer” market. Even prior to its acquisition by Stratasys, MakerBot was looking for ways to make it easier to design and print at home, without requiring a degree in engineering. These efforts include Thingiverse, a site dedicated to people interested in swapping 3D designs, and the Digitizer, which is a reasonably priced 3D scanner.
MakerBot is continuing with its push for ease-of-use with the release of PrintShop for the iPad. The new app gives users a chance to interact with 3D designs in the simplest way possible, making it a solid design platform for kids, new users, and those without interest in more complex programs. The app is a free download on iTunes and is compatible with fifth generation MakerBot systems.
“With the introduction of MakerBot PrintShop, we believe we have finally provided a piece of software that helps bring 3D printing to the masses,” said Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot. “We have removed the obstacle of not knowing 3D design to be able to 3D print. MakerBot PrintShop takes that challenge out of the equation and makes 3D printing fun and easy, as well as accessible for all ages and skill levels.”
At launch, PrintShop offers three different creative options, with hints more options are on the way. Type Maker assists users in the design of letters, nameplates, signs, and other ‘wordy’ options. Ring Maker offers the opportunity to create your own customized ring, with modular features, and Bracelet Maker does pretty much what you’d expect, helping users build their own plastic jewelry.
PrintShop also offers a curated library of Thingiverse designs specifically selected to be easy to print for first-time users. The app will also store favorite Thingiverse designs for later perusal or printing.
Below you’ll find a video about MakerBot’s first Innovation Center.