Community 3D printing network 3D Hubs continues to transform into an industrial-style service with an announcement they’ve acquired a 3D model repair service.
Specifically, they’re acquiring Printivate, a startup providing web-based 3D model analysis and repair functions. It’s one of several startups working on the problem of 3D model printability.
The problem being solved is that the current defacto standard 3D printing file formats permit errors and inconsistencies that are of little consequence when viewing the 3D file, but are catastrophically bad for 3D printing. 3D print slicing programs prepare the model for printing by analyzing each layer and determining motion paths for the 3D printing equipment. However, file errors can make motion decisions ambiguous or unknown. Thus, 3D print files should be “fixed” before attempting to 3D print them.
This functionality is becoming more important as interest in 3D printing grows. The most commonly used method was through Netfabb Basic, a free standalone program provided by Netfabb, which provides excellent repair capabilities. However, Netfabb has recently been acquired by Autodesk, who have switched their free version to “non commercial uses only” mode, leaving smaller enterprises with a quandary.
Thus interest in alternative 3D model repair services should rise, and it’s therefore timely that 3D Hubs has acquired Printivate. They provide a number of very useful functions, including handling:
- Wall thickness analysis
- Wall clearance analysis
- Non manifold components
- Self intersections
- Duplicate triangles
- Duplicate vertices
- Disconnected parts
- Detecting internal geometry
- Tiny shells
- Zero area holes
- Zero thickness walls
- Incorrect face normals
- Degenerate triangles
- Model scale
- Model complexity
- Removing internal geometry
- Advanced hollowing
While Printivate has been a standalone service, it now becomes part of 3D Hubs. It’s very likely that 3D Hubs will integrate Printivate repair and analysis functions into the 3D Hubs workflow, making life far simpler for both 3D Hubs operators and buyers, who otherwise had to fend for themselves to ensure 3D models were printable.
This will make use of 3D Hubs far more efficient and as a result be more attractive to business clients, the market towards which 3D Hubs has been heading. While an individual 3D Hubs buyer might not be too concerned with a few extra steps, a commercial buyer with an ongoing stream of printing work would definitely be concerned. Time is money, after all.
An excellent move for 3D Hubs - and probably Printivate too, as it may be challenging for a standalone repair service to survive on its own. As part of this acquisition, the founder of Printivate, Adrian Muresan, will join 3D Hubs as their R&D lead.
When will all this happen? They explain:
The first functionality is expected to go live on 3dhubs.com before the end of the year.