Software Frontiers: Haptic Design Interfaces

At a more basic level, the software capabilities orbiting additive fabrication technologies are poised to diversify. For home users this trend is likely to translate into more user-friendly programs with simpler interfaces. For industrial applications, a suite of new options and features is likely to come online. In both cases, more intuitive modeling approaches will emerge, including multi-material modeling, 3D visualization, and more haptic (gesture-based) interfaces.

The recent introduction of Microsoft’s Kinect system is a powerful demonstration of the early momentum of haptic technologies. While the device was not intended to be used for sculpting applications, inventive users created a number of  sculpting hacks within just a few weeks of its release.

The Kinect system is hacked for 3D modeling. 

Along similar lines, the RepRap open source 3D printing project has already seen the introduction of a haptic virtual “pottery wheel” which can be used to directly shape objects for printing. These technologies will come together and improve over time, finally moving toward eventual mass commercialization.

The RepRap virtual pottery wheel allows users to directly shape objects for printing. 

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