Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with Shanen Boettcher, General Manager of Product Management at Microsoft about their 3D Builder graphical touchscreen application for Windows 8.1, slotted for release at midnight GMT today, Nov. 15.
I have not yet had the opportunity to get hands-on with the software, but the folks at Microsoft sent us some 3D Builder screenshots.
3D Builder incorporates a combination of slicer and client software plus integrated Windows drivers for several popular 3D printers to provide a easy-to-use desktop manufacturing experience that aims to make it simple for the average consumer to get into 3D printing quickly. Attendees of World Maker Faire NYC will no doubt remember Microsoft’s impressive preview of their upcoming suite of 3D printing and scanning applications. 3D Builder will be the first release and will be followed by other apps.
Microsoft bets that 3D printing will go mainstream and they have partnered with some of the most popular consumer options: MakerBot’s Replicator 2, 3D Systems’ Cube 2 and PP3DP’s Up Plus 2 and Up Mini. Microsoft aims to add more 3D printer vendors to 3D Builder over time.
In its current form, 3D Builder will contain a small curated catalog of objects, designed and tested to be successful first time prints for beginner users. The object library will contain a variety of “lightly customizable” items, including: toy trains, napkin rings, cookie cutter and game boards. These models can be scaled, sized and duplicated on the build platform within the software. Print options will be simple by default, but advanced options to tweak “draft quality”, “speed” and “density” are available. Files can be imported and exported in STL and OBJ formats.
Boettcher also mentioned that Microsoft is working with Autodesk and SolidWorks to offer additional 3D printing CAD options for Windows 8.1. In addition, the MakerBot Replicator 2 will be offered for sale in 42 total Microsoft retail stores, located mostly in the U.S. (two are located in Canada and one is in Puerto Rico).
3D Builder will be available for download in the Microsoft App store. Check it out and let us know what you think. We at MAKE will be watching with interest, look for our upcoming review.