3D printers have been a hit with consumers for several years now, but designing anything for them still requires some basic knowledge of 3D modeling software. Otherwise, you're stuck just building whatever designs you can find online. With Doodle3D, you can draw simple 2D sketches on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, and then send them to a 3D printer to turn them into physical objects.
Rick Companje, a co-founder of Fablab Amersfoort in the Netherlands, invented Doodle3D when he found himself with access to several 3D printers and no knowledge of how to create something using 3D design software. He initially developed the Doodle3D software for himself, but found it to be a great tool for introducing people to 3D printing and decided to turn it into a full-fledged product.
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Users first make line drawings in the main pane of the drawing program, which will form the basis for the design. From there, they can either keep the image flat or use the sculpting pane at the side make it taller and alter the shape however they want using just the cursor or their finger. Then it's just a matter of hitting the "print" button and watching the design come to life, layer by layer on a connected 3D printer.
To make the process even more accessible, Companje has devised the Doodle3D Wi-Fi Box, which plugs into most 3D printers and connects to a wireless network. Anyone connecting to that network, whether they're on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, will then be able to access the Doodle3D software with no installation required. The software runs natively from the box itself and even has some storage space to save and load designs.
Companje and his collaborators are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to finalize the Doodle3D program so it can work with multiple types of platforms and 3D printers. Eventually, they hope to move into a production and distribute the software and Wi-Fi Box worldwide. Right now, anybody who backs the Kickstarter with US$99 can be among the first to receive the Doodle3D Wi-Fi Box when it ships in September of 2013.
Check out the video below to see Companje demonstrate how Doodle3D creates physical objects from even the most basic of drawings.