3D modelling software firm Autodesk is to enter the 3D printing market with a new platform and its own printer.
Revealing the news ahead of the 3D printing event MakerCon, Autodesk president and CEO Carl Bass said: “For years, I’ve been fascinated by the promise and frustrated by the reality of 3D printing.
“Today, Autodesk is announcing two contributions to help make things better.”
The first such contribution is an open software platform for 3D printing called Spark, which Bass stated would “make it more reliable yet simpler to print 3D models, and easier to control how that model is actually printed”.
The second contribution would be the introduction of the firm’s own-brand 3D printer, which Bass said “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,” he explained.
“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.”
Bass said that the company would promote the free licensing of the printer and Spark to hardware manufacturers and other parties, with the design of the printer made publicly available to allow for further development and experimentation.
The printer is said to be able to use a ‘broad’ range of materials, supplied by Autodesk and third-party companies.
“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,” Bass continued.
“Over the coming months we’ll be working with hardware manufacturers to integrate the Spark platform with current and future 3D printers.
“3D printing will make it possible for us to create all sorts of things we create today, better, and to create all sorts of new things that we haven't even imagined yet."
Spark and the Autodesk 3D printer will be available later this year.
The news comes as 3D printing firm MakerBot announces Sesame Street as its first licensed brand.
The first in a series of 3D-printable Sesame Street licensed content, users can now purchase, download and 3D-print Mr Snuffleupagus from the MakerBot digital store.
Additional characters are expected to follow in the coming months, with Sesame Street 3D-printed models also expected to become available for purchase soon in MakerBot retail stores.