Artist Farah Bandookwala describes her experience using a haptic input device to design wonderful 3D sculptures. Haptic technology is the ability to "touch" a model using physical feedback mechanisms. This changes the design process significantly from conventional 3D design methods to something perhaps more akin to traditional art approaches. She's been using the Cloud9 software/hardware input combination to create some very unusual artwork.
In the video, Bandookwala says:
Using your hands as an artist and craftsperson, and using a haptic interface allow for being able to understand the form of an object through touch. I didn't really get immersed in using 3D software until I used Cloud 9 because it let me think in a way I was used to thinking about materials in a physical sense.
We think this is a very important point. Some (well, perhaps many) popular 3D modelling software packages are designed for engineers, not artists. Even those that have an artistic bent are hampered by the differences in the interface as Bandookwala describes. This could be a factor in limiting the future use of 3D printers to produce artistic works.
Today few have haptic interface hardware and software ready for use on their machines. But you can have both if you visit A1 Technologies and check out their Chameleon 3D package, which includes both the required hardware and software for £495.00 (USD$810).