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High res 3D objects designed with your iPad

You no longer need powerful CAD software to design and print insanely cool objects.
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1 of 8 Guillaume Couche

3D design is becoming alluringly simple

A new app called Gravity Sketch let's users design in 3D on the iPad with an intuitive and attractive interface.

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2 of 8 Guillaume Couche

The limit is now your imagination

The most fulfilling part of the whole 3D printing concept is that you can dream something up, design it, and then watch it come to life on a print tray in minutes.

Which is great, except for that design part. Many 3D printers are now push-button simple, so design is the technically challenging portion of the process.

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3 of 8 Greg Nichols/ZDNet

Direct 3D generation (i.e., no need for beefy CAD software)

The Gravity Sketch app works by "direct 3D generation" on a virtual plane, allowing creators to quickly create complex 3D designs without deep knowledge of CAD software. That's a big claim, as anyone who's taken a crack at complicated CAD software will understand. Autodesk, which is the industry standard, is a stumbling block for many amateurs interested in crafting 3D objects without an engineering background.

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4 of 8 Greg Nichols/ZDNet

Just like playing Angry Birds!

To me, the coolest thing about the app is that it feels native to the iPad. Everything in the Gravity Sketch app happens in realtime: 3D content is generated under as you move your finger.

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5 of 8 Guillaume Couche

An ecosystem for 3D printable objects

It's paint by numbers, advanced design for dummies like me. Once you're done creating, you can order a 3D print straight from the app, delivered by Shapeways.

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6 of 8 Greg Nichols/ZDNet

Been dreaming of a doodad?

It's a smart integration, and a very cool tool to make that component, invention, or doodad you've been carrying around in the back of your mind. It's also the latest example of an encouraging trend. Ease-of-use is becoming the name of the game in everything from website development (SquareSpace) to architectural rendering (SketchUp).

Tinkercad from Autodesk is another beginners-friendly 3D design platform, though it's a browser-based platform and it's decidedly less sleek.

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7 of 8 Guillaume Couche

Direct 3D generation v. traditional 3D software

"Direct 3D generation is a more intuitive interaction than your traditional 3D software," the company's co-founders said in a statement. "This is because creativity relies more on spatial intelligence, than logical or linguistic intelligences which form the base of most 3D modelling softwares."

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8 of 8 Greg Nichols/ZDNet

Order a 3D print online

Shapeways is a virtual makerspace. Send your design and they'll send you a quality 3D printed widget a few days later.

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