AMS Spring 2023

Generate Code and 3D Printable Products Using Shapeways’ New Software Upgrade: ShapeJS 2.0

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shape3Does the above graphic scare you off? Well, it’s designed to do the opposite! Based on JavaScript, Shapeways’ ShapeJS is a software program targeting makers and designers who want to create 3D printable objects using code. What is the advantage of coding here? In 3D design, the use of traditional triangle graphics requires a “staggering number of triangles” to achieve accuracy. Voxels (which are like 2D pixels, but they represent volume elements in 3-dimensional space) are an alternative to triangle graphics — allowing designers to more easily leverage 2D images. This is good news because a wider audience of 2D artists can participate in 3D design and share their work. More good news is that now Shapeways has released ShapeJS 2.0, which includes many upgrades for custom design… Keep reading to learn more!

The new ShapeJS 2.0 has a “rich interface definition,” with scriptsshape1 that make it easy for makers and designers to share parametric objects. Design work can be widely reused and easily customized for a variety of situations and contexts. Regarding other new features, the Shapeways blog explains that the new version’s use of Graphics Processing Units (GPU) is the most important change:

“This release adds many new features to the language and environment. Most important is the use of GPU’s to enable faster evaluation of scripts. Typical scripts are 100X faster than ShapeJS 1.0, and can be rendered in real time. The new renderer is server-based to protect the author’s content from being borrowed and reduce the client side requirements.”

As stated above, the new version of ShapeJS is 100 times faster than the previous version, with the potential to be rendered in real time: now that is a major upgrade!

shape1

Let’s review some of ShapeJS 2.0’s other new features and improvements: real time evaluation using Open Computing Language (Open CL); image-based rendering; lower client compute requirements; protection of author’s 3D content; ability to share objects and parameters using zip format; 2D operations for image manipulation; revamped Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE); better argument passing and description; fast and accurate distance functions; improved Automatic User Interface Creation; blending of boolean operations for rounded edges; and user provided font support.

shape2ShapeJS 2.0 provides a “rich set of solid modeling primitives built on a powerful voxel engine.” You can use it to control 3D printed objects down to printer resolution levels, which is a very attractive prospect for people who are not turned off by coding.

If you haven’t been exposed to ShapeJS yet, and this article has piqued your interest in all of the benefits of using it, Shapeways has made available educational tutorials and provided example content — including the video posted below. Shapeways has also announced that soon it will start providing blog posts for twelve straight weeks that cover a new object or ShapeJS technique — so stay tuned for more information and inspiration! You can also check out the ShapeJS website for more information, as well. Discuss in the 3D Design Made Easier by Shapeways Upgrade forum over at 3DPB.com.

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