July 17, 2011 AT 11:26 am

Reality capture and (free-ish) 3D tools…

Chris Anderson on some of the new 3D tools and services

Reality Capture is the missing link in the Maker model of applying “rip, mix, burn” to the real world. We want to “remix” physical stuff, but it’s too hard to design objects from scratch and commercial 3D scanners are too expensive.

Now comes some good news: Autodesk’s free cloud-based Photofly service now lets you do it with a regular digital camera. They did my head with an earlier version, and it required good lighting and a lot of shots, but it worked brilliantly. Now they’re at 2.0 and it’s proving popular with the amateurs who may be Autodesk’s next big market.


One of the coolest trends in the mainstreaming of the Maker Movement is that the high-end 3D CAD tool vendors are rushing to release free, easy-to-use versions of their software for amateurs. First was the awesome Autodesk 123D. Now comes PTC’s Creo freeElements/Direct Modeling Express 4.0, with “real-time realistic 3D modeling, an easy to use and understand interface, simple install, and quick start project capability”.

This and the Autodesk program both have most of the power of $5,000+ software packages, but released in a free version for Makers. The New Industrial Revolution starts here!

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