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EETE JAN 2015

A copyright mess in 3D By Julien Happich Judging by IDTechEx’s latest market figures about 3D printing materials, with a total consumable market expected to reach $8bn by 2025 (a ten-fold increase from 2013’s $800m), 3D printing is no longer a rapid prototyping solution for niche markets but is increasingly being adopted for mass customisation in regular production flows, with a strong potential to relocate a large part of the manufacturing industry. There isn’t a week that passes-by without new 3D printing claims (faster, cheaper, more precise, more materials capabilities, more volume capacity, more colours etc...) and at any given time, crowd-funding sites such as KickStarter and IndieGogo typically host dozens of new 3D printer concepts to come. But before you can print, you need a 3D model, easy for the CAD professional in an engineering company, maybe less obvious for the mere consumer. But hardware and software are catching up fast in the consumer space. Reverse-engineering and metrology companies such as Kreon or Creaform Inc. have been offering professional-grade handheld 3D scanners for a while. Creaform’s Go!SCAN 3D handheld white-light 3D scanner. Last May, Creaform was announcing its Go!SCAN 3D handheld white-light 3D scanner together with VXmodel, a 3D scanto print software module that cleans up the 3D meshes and prepares them for print. Of course, this type of professional-grade instruments (with an accuracy of up to 0.1mm and full-colour capture) is too expensive for consumer applications. In the race of additive manufacturing and 3D scanning, 3D 3d printing Systems who is active in the professional market is also addressing consumer needs with the recently released iSense 3D Scanner, an add-on scanner reselling for just under USD 500 that clips to the iPad Air, iPad mini or iPad 4 and promises users easy access to 3D selfies (with direct upload options to Cubify, the company’s consumer hub for 3D printing). A number of other low-cost 3D scanners are being marketed or under development, such as Fuel3D’s handheld scanner which was successfully funded through a Kickstarter campaign. Planned for release in 2015 for less than a thousand dollars, the point-and-shoot 3D imaging system will capture the shape and colour information of objects at a resolution of around 0.350mm, processing the files within seconds for on-screen manipulation before 3D printing. But standalone solutions are not your only option as a consumer. Hewlett-Packard who recently made big news with its entry in the 3D printers market (claiming much faster printing speeds on its professional-grade multi-agent HP MultiJet Fusion thermal inkjet 3D printer), is now integrating a 3D scanner to its latest PC offering, the Sprout. The Sprout features a depth sensor, a high-resolution camera and a projector for 3-D scanning and imaging, together with a special sensing mat. It allows users to seamlessly integrate realworld objects into their digital workspace. At last consumer electronics show (CES), Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich demonstrated the company’s RealSense 3D gesture camera integrated into a tablet, so it could be used to effectively perform real-time 3D scanning. The company plans to have the technology in tablets from 2015 onwards and may be pushing it into smartphones. Even before you get to buy dedicated hardware, or before 3D scanners become mainstream, you can already turn your smartphone into a 3D scanner using apps like AutoDesk’s free 123D Catch or Replica Labs’ Rendor. While the former is free (enticing users to buy CAD file manipulation software), the latter allows you to create a 3D scan of almost anything by taking surround video (the object being positioned on a specially printed paper grid for reference) and Fuel3D’s handheld scanner. 3D Systems’ iSense 3D Scanner. 8 Electronic Engineering Times Europe January 2015 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE JAN 2015
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