Autodesk’s CEO recently revealed ahead of an appearance at the MakerCon conference in California that Autodesk is launching two new technology innovations that he believes will accelerate a new industrial revolution built around advanced manufacturing processes such as 3D printing. First is an open software platform for 3D printing called Spark, which will make it more reliable yet simpler to print 3D models, and easier to control how that model is actually printed.
Second, Autodesk will introduce its own 3D printer that will serve as a reference implementation for Spark. It will demonstrate the power of the Spark platform and set a new benchmark for the 3D printing user experience. Together these will provide the building blocks that product designers, hardware manufacturers, software developers and materials scientists can use to continue to explore the limits of 3D printing technology.
Spark will be open and freely licensable to hardware manufacturers and others who are interested. The same applies to the 3D printer – the complete design of the which will be made publicly available to allow for further development and experimentation. The printer will be able to use a broad range of materials made by Autodesk and by others.
Carl Bass said of this latest development: “For years, I have been fascinated by the promise and frustrated by the reality of 3D printing… The world is just beginning to realise the potential of additive manufacturing and with Spark, we hope to make it possible for many more people to incorporate 3D printing into their design and manufacturing process. Over the coming months we will be working with hardware manufacturers to integrate the Spark platform with current and future 3D printers.”
Clearly, Autodesk feels that, by giving away both Spark and the printer’s design, it will still profit by driving demand for the firm’s other products, with which there will obviously be interoperability.
Speaking to the BBC, Bass said: “If 3D printing succeeds, we succeed, because the only way you can print is if you have a 3D model, and our customers are the largest makers of 3D models in the world.”