Back in May, Autodesk introduced their ‘Spark’ 3D printing platform, as well as their very own 3D printer, which later was named the ‘Ember’. In September, 3DPrint.com had the opportunity to interview Autodesk CTO, Jeff Kowalski, who told us that, while his company is releasing a 3D printer, the main focus for them is the Spark platform. The Ember 3D printer is meant as a means for helping show off, and spread Spark’s usage, rather than simply generate revenue via sales of 3D printers for Autodesk. While the company is in fact manufacturing a 3D printer, they by no means plan on competing with anyone else in the space, as far as hardware goes. Today, Autodesk has announced that they have started taking orders for the Ember 3D printer, via the Ember Explorer Program.
“In advance of the public release of the Ember printer, Autodesk will launch the Ember Explorer Program, designed to bring together qualified industry leaders, software developers, materials scientists, research institutions, makers and hackers to experience and experiment with this new technology,” says Autodesk.
“The Ember Explorer program will (subject to specified terms), provide Explorer program members with an early build version of the Ember printer, an Ember Explorer printer supply bundle, an Ember finishing kit, dedicated technical support, access to Explorer information, invitations to exclusive events and the option to provide direct feedback and potentially impact the final production of the Ember printer.”
To purchase the Ember 3D printer, interested individuals must first request an “Access Pass” from Autodesk. Currently the company is mostly looking for “hardware, software, material and industry innovators who can take advantage of their open platform approach and contribute to the overall Spark ecosystem”.
The price of the Ember is $5995, excluding shipping, handling, customs and taxes. Those who order now should received their 3D printers sometime in early 2015, although no official shipping date has yet been announced. This could very well be the start of something special, if the Spark platform can take hold among other 3D printer manufacturers. If it can become a standard operating system for 3D printers, it will go a long way in helping create an open source ecosystem like that seen within the smartphone industry. Called the “Android of 3D printers” by many working on this project, if it does in fact take hold, we could see much more innovation within the space relatively soon.
What do you think? Will you be ordering an Ember 3D printer? Discuss in the Autodesk Ember forum thread on 3DPB.com.