Gadgets for humans

Autodesk introduces Spark, an open-source printing platform and hardware


The 3D printing world is still in its infancy. Tons of different printers use various techniques to create physical objects. Autodesk wants to push the market forward with its open-source Spark initiative.

Autodesk CEO Carl Bass says that the Spark platform will be a more reliable, yet simpler way to to print 3D models. In addition to the platform, Autodesk will release its own 3D printer reference design and hardware.

While adding another printer to the already crowded market doesn’t seem that exciting, making its platform and printer open and freely licensable to hardware manufacturers could encourage companies to build their own printers. The idea is to get others to test and contribute to the Spark platform and hardware and push the technology forward.

The MakerBot was initially an open-source hardware project, but with announcement of the Replicator 2, Bre Pettis revealed that the new printer’s hardware design would not be shared with the public. The concern was that low-quality carbon-copy clones would eat into the sales of the Replicator 2 and hurt MakerBot’s bottom line.

Autodesk doesn’t have to worry about the Spark platform and 3D printer diminishing its profits. It’s a software company that’s betting on 3D printing to help boost software sales by giving its customers a better way to quickly prototype their designs.

Both the printer and Spark platform will be available later this year.

Published May 14, 2014 — 19:16 UTC