Autodesk announced a new initiative they call “Spark”. It’s an “open 3D printing platform” that could change many things in 3D printing.
There are scant few details about this venture, aside from this:
Spark is an open 3D printing platform that will make it easier for hardware manufacturers, software developers, materials scientists, product designers, and more to participate in and benefit from this technology. Spark connects digital information to 3D printers in a new and streamlined way, making it easier to visualize prints and optimize them without trial and error, while also broadening the range of materials that can be used for printing. And because the Spark platform is open, everyone can use its building blocks to further push the limits of 3D printing and drive fresh innovation.
We’re expecting to see a set of 3D printing APIs, specifications and protocols on which manufacturers could (if Autodesk’s vision succeeds) standardize their software and hardware. More than likely such protocols will use or otherwise favor existing Autodesk assets, so it is not clear whether the rest of the industry will follow along.
But it is a good idea. Having a standard set of protocols for engaging 3D printers would be desirable for both manufacturers and software designers, and especially users, who would then be able to learn a standard set of interfaces styles. We’re awaiting further information on Spark.
Meanwhile, Autodesk also revealed they’ve created a 3D printer of their own using the Spark specs. It’s intended to be a reference machine that will be entirely open sourced for others to build upon.
Alas, there are again very few details about the Spark reference machine, aside from the image above, that it is a resin-based SLA-style machine and a price of around USD$5,000. More to come.