You know that inkjet printer sitting under your desk? The one with the old, crusty ink cartridges that are collecting dust because you no longer use it? Well, you can move it aside now and buy a fancy, new 3-D printer.
While we all have been talking about 3-D printing for the last few years, 2014 might be the year these devices actually move closer to becoming a mainstream reality.
On the floor of the International CES this month, a section of the exhibit hall was completely dedicated to 3-D printers, including products from Makerbot, 3DSystems and RoBo3D. These are all consumer-level printers that are essentially plug-and-play models. A company calledMatterform was also displaying a 3-D scanner, making it easy to replicate objects by scanning and then printing them.
Until now, the software has been one of the larger barriers to using 3-D printers, but even that became easier when Adobe announced last week that it was integrating 3-D printing into Photoshop CC.
Winston Hendrickson, vice president for products in Creative Media Solutions at Adobe, said in a phone interview that Adobe was making it possible to print a 3-D printed object from Photoshop CC, much like people print on paper today with a traditional printer. By going to a new drop-down menu in the application, people will be able to select their 3-D printer, or choose from online 3-D printing companies, including Shapeways, which prints in a variety of textures and materials, and then print an object they have designed.
Adobe is adding a level of intelligence that isn’t available in most other 3-D printing software. It will check the 3-D object to make sure it is structurally sound and then fill in any inaccuracies. The software can also automatically add “support structures” to a 3-D model, which are required to make an object print at the right specifications.
Adobe also said it was extending the ability to design 3-D printed objects from scratch in its software, or refine an existing 3-D model made with other software that is then imported into Photoshop CC.