Autodesk is well known to anyone who approached 3D printing, seriously or not. With its 123D series, the american software house developed some of the most used free applications to design tridimensional objects for 3D printing and for laser cutting. Now Autodesk wants to "accelerate the future of 3D printing" with a platform formed by a new software and a branded 3D printer.

The new software is Autodesk Spark and it will - as Autodesk CEO Carl Bass said - "make it more reliable yet simpler to print 3D models, and easier to control how that model is actually printed". There are no further technical details on Spark functions, but it seems logical that it will get some of those already present in Autodesk programs like 123D Design/Make or Meshmixer, and will extend them. Bass said that Spark will be "open" - but the term "open source" isn't mentioned by Autodesk - and it can be freely licensed by other hardware vendors and by anyone interested.


With Spark, Autodesk announced also its own 3D printer. It's designed as the perfect complement of Spark software because it "will demonstrate the power of the Spark platform and set a new benchmark for the 3D printing user experience". Its design will be made publicly available, so that anyone can further develop the printer, which will use "a broad range of materials" offered by Autodesk and by other vendors.

Autodesk didn't say when Spark and the new 3D printer will be available, but it will be "later this year". It's an interesting move because 3D printers are usually developed and sold by companies whose core business is hardware and consumables (materials to print with). Autodesk business comes from software and services, so it's in its best interest to fuel 3D printing market with affordable and easy to use printers.


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