15One of the evolutions within the 3D printing space that we are still lacking, is the advent of easy-to-use, simplistic tools for creating 3D models. I’m not talking about the typical CAD tools which have been available for years, but tools which, as cliche as it may seem, even your grandma could use. Yes there are hundreds of thousands of free designs one can download and print from repositories like MakerBot’s Thingiverse, however it’s not until just about anyone can jump on a computer and design their own models as easily as they would draw a picture on a piece of papers, that 3D printing can go mainstream from a consumer’s point of view.

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Back in July of last year, the world’s largest desktop 3D printer manufacturer, MakerBot, announced the release of their PrintShop application for iOS. This application turned any iPad user into a 3D modeling whiz, and has slowly been evolving to include numerous new features. Today, as MakerBot helps kick off 3D Print Week in New York City, they have announced their biggest update to the app yet.11

MakerBot PrintShop version 1.5 has launched and it includes a new Shape Maker feature which turns 2D drawings into 3D printable models.

“Our goal with the MakerBot PrintShop app is to make 3D printing more accessible and empower anyone to easily create 3D designs,” noted Joey Neal, chief experience officer with MakerBot. “All it takes is a pen and a piece of white paper to create a drawing that can then be 3D printed using the new MakerBot Shape Maker feature. If you can draw a sketch, you can use MakerBot Shape Maker to transform your creations from the flat 2D world of pen and paper to the exciting 3D world of 3D printing.”

Drawing are not the only forms of media which can instantly become printable with the touch of a button. In fact, 12users can also turn photographs they take or download, as well as simple iPad screenshots into print-ready 3D models within seconds.

“It’s really a simple, easy and intuitive 3D design tool,” noted Neal. “We are excited to see what is designed and 3D printed with MakerBot Shape Maker. For example, students of all ages, artists, cartoonists and even parents that want to preserve their children’s artwork will be amazed at the simplicity and ease of use with this app.”

The way the new Shape Maker feature works is rather simple. Users can draw a picture on a piece of paper, then use their device’s camera to take a photo of that image. Photographs of other objects will work as well, as long as there is ‘distinct contrast and simple lines in its design.’ Once the image is taken within the app, the user will utilize the slider to select the portion of the image they would like to print. The app will then analyze the image and turn the 13items, or lines within it green once it’s ready. At this point, the user is able to choose a background if desired, make any adjustments they want to the model, save the model or send it directly to their MakerBot Replicator 3D printer via WiFi to begin the fabrication process.

The new Shape Maker feature is certainly a major step in the right direction for those looking to learn to model their own 3D prints. As MakerBot points out, their PrintShop app is now the perfect addition to any classroom, and would fit into virtually any art class, as a students 2D images can practically come to life within hours.

Let us know if you have downloaded PrintShop Version 1.5, and what your initial thoughts are on the new Shape Maker feature. Discuss in the MakerBot PrintShop Shape Maker forum thread on 3DPB.com.  Check out the brief video below showing the PrintShop application in action:

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