Anyone who is interested in open-source design, fabrication and making in general will be well aware of the difficulties of making design accessible. Design software can often cost thousands of pounds which severely limits the target audience for anyone wishing to share or publish their work. There are programs out there that are free. Google SketchUp has been around for many years now and is continually updating but for anyone who uses more in-depth CAD software or parametric software SketchUp has its limitations. And if you do finally find a way of sharing your designs images can often be difficult to understand and particularly assembly process without detailed step by step guides or explanatory videos. This is why I want to share two new softwares, completely free that work within your internet browser: SketchFab and SpokeCreator.
Maison d’artiste (click to view in 3D)
‘Sketchfab is a web service to publish and display interactive 3D models. No plugin required: upload your model, embed it, share it, done.’
SketchFab has been blogged quite a lot and I came across it on ArchDaily. There is a limit to the model size you can upload but this is not restrictive and you can upload zip files including textures for fully rendered, navigable models in the browser. The site also lets you embed these 3D models into your own webpage. There seem to be issues with the embedding into wordpress sites. They have released a plug in for this but obviously this cannot be used on wordpress hosted blogs.
Spoke Creator is developed by the team from Made on Jupiter. Taken from their site is a description of the product:
‘It’s an engineering-grade 3D modeling package that works in the browser. Spoke Creator is not your average 3D tool. It’s built from the ground up with product customisation in mind. It’s inspired by techniques used in high-budget visual effects but applied to creating real-world customisable products. Spoke Creator is a creative hub used by designers, consumers and manufacturers to interact with the very same digital product model. Spoke Creator runs on our servers.’
Essentially it has three main elements. A 3D view for the model itself, a workflow area quite similar to grasshopper and then a window listing the parameters with sliders to allow each parameter to be changed. Clicking on any of the geometry nodes in the workflow area will allow just that particular geometry to be displayed in the 3D view. Clicking in the background will show the final output. It makes it very simple for viewers to play with the parameters and adapt the model without any particular knowledge of the software itself. In addition, Spoke Creator can then change to ‘consumer mode’ allowing the customiser for a specific product to be directly loaded onto a company’s online shop. It will then allow the manufacturing data to be output for a variety of manufacturing methods. Clicking on the link at the top for Spoke Creator will take you directly to a new workflow or you can browse designs already made by clicking on ‘Spoke’ once you are on that page.