The world of 3D is exploding. It is an area that you can learn about and create things in with a very basic computer and software that costs you no money!
Here are just a few examples of software websites you should check out:
Sculptris – http://pixologic.com/sculptris/
Starting with a ball of clay you can shape and manipulate it into a 3D object which you can export as an .obj file. Sculptris was developed by an independent programmer named Tomas Pettersson and was acquired by Pixologic in 2010 to become part of their ZBrush family of products. They continue to release it as a “free” program. Check out some of the other programs he created: http://www.drpetter.se/projects.html
Blender – http://www.blender.org/download/
Starting with a NURB you can manipulate it into a 3D object and then animate it. Blender is a heavy weight open source program, which means you can download and install it at home for free. It runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac just fine. It also can be installed to a USB and run of it just fine too. There is a massive community around Blender. Check out this website to see many creations that others have made – http://www.blendswap.com/
Unity comes in a free version and a Pro version. The free version is more than enough to learn on and create amazing programs. It runs on Windows, and Mac just fine. It also can be installed to a USB and run of it just fine too. Unity also has a massive community around it and there are many many indie games you can play and check out. Unity can be used to make 3D and 2D games. You can do the modeling and programming all in unity or combine it with 3d software like Blender.
You convert a Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect bar into a 3D scanner!! After trying out various software http://skanect.occipital.com/download/ Skanect was the easiest to use (works on Windows and Mac), however the free version was pretty limited in precision. We also tried the following and had interment success:
- Reconstruct Me (full version also costs money)- http://reconstructme.net/
- Faro Scenect (free – so we are determined to get it to work) – http://www.faro.com/scenect/scenect
- David (we haven’t tried this yet but it looks great – it requires having a projector and a camera) – http://www.david-3d.com/support/downloads
Note: After you get your scans they may have problems and need repair. Microsoft offers this free repair service where you upload the scanned file and then download a repaired version – https://netfabb.azurewebsites.net/
As the 3D community continues to grow there are three themes also emerging: open hardware, open software, open supplies. With that in mind and a $2500 budget we boiled our choice of 3D printers down to two choices:
- Lulzbot Taz 4 – https://www.lulzbot.com/products/lulzbot-taz-4-3d-printer
- Ultimaker 2 – https://www.ultimaker.com/products/ultimaker-2
In the end we went with the Lulzbot Taz 4 as it ships out of Canada.
Virtual 3D – Oculus Rift
It’s coming, it’s coming …. eventually. And we can’t wait – but we will. http://www.theverge.com/2014/11/4/7155321/oculus-rift-consumer-edition-many-months-away