Autodesk Spark 3D printer plans open-source for ubiquity

Chris Davies - May 14, 2014, 1:55 pm CDT
Autodesk Spark 3D printer plans open-source for ubiquity

The 3D printer market is getting some new competition, with Autodesk not only revealing its own 3D printer and the Spark software to run it, but making the design of each open-source so that other firms can use them. The unnamed printer will not only go on sale from Autodesk later in 2014, but be compatible with printing materials from a wide range of suppliers, the company says, rather than locking owners into one proprietary standard.

Exactly which materials those will be is unclear at this stage, with Autodesk yet to confirm the bulk of the hardware details on the new printer.

However, rather than the traditional extrusion system used by most 3D printers currently available, Autodesk has looked instead to stereolithography, where plastic resin is selectively hardened in successive layers using an ultraviolet laser.

What the company has said is that it aims to shake up the 3D printing space and additive manufacturing, working alongside a variety of – also unnamed – existing printer makers in the process. One of the key goals is to reduce the amount of waste, not to mention trial-and-error, that’s currently involved with the technology.

To that end, Spark will apparently streamline the way digital information is communicated to 3D printers “making it easier to visualize prints and optimize them without trial and error,” Autodesk promises.

Those grabbing the open plans will be able to iterate on both the hardware and the software, though obviously the cascading open-source rules will apply. Final pricing for Autodesk’s version is expected to be in the region of $5,000, with the company looking beyond home users, at least initially.

SOURCE Autodesk Spark

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