Autodesk CEO, Carl Bass, recently spoke with Bloomberg Television about his company's move into hardware and about the future of 3D printing.
"For a long time, I've been fascinated by the problem – but frustrated with the realities – of 3D printing," Bass said. "We wanted to put together a software platform to move to the next level. The best analogy I have is Android. Pre-Android, there was a whole raft of operating systems in the world and people learned how to use them. We wanted to start with that."
That plaform is Spark, and now Bass and Company are joining forces with HP to "drive toward a new industrial revolution" as HP is adopting Spark to integrate it with its Multi Jet Fusion printer platform.
Autodesk says Spark provides the building blocks for hardware manufacturers, software developers and materials scientists to explore the limits of 3D printing technology with a set of sophisticated tools like "constraint based design" to create and produce output with many types of materials and properties.
"We're just beginning to realize the potential of additive manufacturing, and by integrating Spark and Multi Jet Fusion technology, we hope to make it possible for many more people to incorporate 3D printing into their design and manufacturing process," says Samir Hanna, Vice President and General Manager, Consumer and 3D Printing for Autodesk. "Together, we will usher in a new era of manufacturing powered by 3D printing."
HP's 3D printing technology, Multi Jet Fusion, is said to be capable of building objects 10 times faster than current SLS and FDM 3D printers. Based on HP's thermal inkjet technology, this solution uses a "multi-agent printing process" to apply a group of liquid materials all at once. According to HP, the resulting objects are stronger, more durable and uniform, and feature finer finishes, detail and smoother surfaces than current 3D printing devices.
Autodesk calls the Spark platform a complete, open and free platform for 3D printing that will connect digital information to 3D printers in a new way. The company says the package shortens the path between digital content and hardware and greatly improves information exchange between design software and the printer by optimizing design before production begins.
Spark provides open APIs to access and innovate the 3D printing pipeline – and it's free.
Architectural design pioneers Emerging Objects, who have also partnered with Autodesk, say they're adopting the Spark platform to more easily create unique 3D printable materials and streamline the processes that allow them to print large-scale architectural assemblies and structures.