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On the Cool Tools mailing list, Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson (a hardcore maker of cool things, like DIY Drones, and founder of GeekDad) heartily recommends Autodesk’s 123D:

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Printing in 3D is now no more complicated than printing photos in Picasa. First you design something in Autodesk 123D (in my case, my first project was a device housing prototype). Then pick “Make” from the menu. You can print your object on your desktop printer, like a Makerbot (moderate quality, now), or you press another button to have it printed (high quality, later) on a commercial printer. Enter your credit card (my prototype, shown here, cost $24) and a week later, it’s delivered to your house. Wow.

Best of all, 123D is free. This is the future of fabrication.

Mark Frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder is the editor-in-chief of Make magazine, and the founder of the popular Boing Boing blog.


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Comments

  1. skyborgsin says:

    Thou shalt have no other os than windows…

    1. Jeffrey says:

      From the 123D forums, it sounds like AutoCAD DOES have intentions of a MacOS X version of 123D before the end of the year. A bit vague for a timeline but it’s heartening to hear “it’s in the pipeline.”

      http://forum.123dapp.com/123d/topics/any_plans_for_a_mac_os_x_version#reply_8028092

      1. T.M. August says:

        Leaving out those of us who prefer open source OS’s.
        I know so many engineers who’d be using ‘nix exclusively if they weren’t wedded to windows by their CAD suites. Oh well.

        Why aren’t there more platform-independent programs, anyway? I know it’s harder to hack, but harder than maintaining three separate versions? In this day and age?

  2. Travis Howse says:

    The 3D modelling tool for the true rapid prototyping affecionado is OpenSCAD. Fully parametric designs. Tweak a number in the code and a dimension or proportion changes in the model. Far more suited to the application of homing in on the perfect design by iteration. I made a parametric airless tire in openscad, and parameterised every dimension and the number of spokes: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:17514

    Best of all: It’s on linux, windows and mac, and free, open source software.

    1. macegr says:

      I love OpenSCAD, but for anything moderately complicated I’m much faster drawing in Sketchup or AutoCAD. It would be pretty neat if there was an interactive method of creating OpenSCAD projects, then being able to parameterize certain dimensions (SolidWorks can do this, actually).

  3. Chris says:

    24$ in material, or total cost? I have a model of similar size that cost about $20 in material but $150 in fabrication cost.

    1. That was $24 in total cost, including materials and fabrication (and shipping)

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