3D printers have been a hit with consumers for several years now, but designing anything for them still requires some basic knowledge of 3D modeling software. Otherwise, you're stuck just building whatever designs you can find online. With Doodle3D, you can draw simple 2D sketches on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, and then send them to a 3D printer to turn them into physical objects.

Rick Companje, a co-founder of Fablab Amersfoort in the Netherlands, invented Doodle3D when he found himself with access to several 3D printers and no knowledge of how to create something using 3D design software. He initially developed the Doodle3D software for himself, but found it to be a great tool for introducing people to 3D printing and decided to turn it into a full-fledged product.

We've seen some examples of sketches turned into 3D objects in the past with devices like the 3Doodler and the DIWire, but Doodle3D makes the process simple enough for young children to use.

Users first make line drawings in the main pane of the drawing program, which will form the basis for the design. From there, they can either keep the image flat or use the sculpting pane at the side make it taller and alter the shape however they want using just the cursor or their finger. Then it's just a matter of hitting the "print" button and watching the design come to life, layer by layer on a connected 3D printer.

To make the process even more accessible, Companje has devised the Doodle3D Wi-Fi Box, which plugs into most 3D printers and connects to a wireless network. Anyone connecting to that network, whether they're on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, will then be able to access the Doodle3D software with no installation required. The software runs natively from the box itself and even has some storage space to save and load designs.

Companje and his collaborators are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to finalize the Doodle3D program so it can work with multiple types of platforms and 3D printers. Eventually, they hope to move into a production and distribute the software and Wi-Fi Box worldwide. Right now, anybody who backs the Kickstarter with US$99 can be among the first to receive the Doodle3D Wi-Fi Box when it ships in September of 2013.

Check out the video below to see Companje demonstrate how Doodle3D creates physical objects from even the most basic of drawings.

Sources: Doodle3D, Kickstarter

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    About the Author

    Jonathan Fincher

    Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.

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    • 3d printing needs a "Killer App" like a cheap algae supplied powder that when introduced to water can be made to "Print" any food desired. Or custom clothing that costs pennies to print. Just saying...

      Norman Bouchal
    • 3D printing has a bunch of "Killer Apps" Norman. Check this article of a bunch of free easy to use apps from Autodesk.


      There all pretty basic to use, but can create some cool stuff.

      Andy Bate
    • Programs like this are going to be huge. Kids will be turning in homework done with their 3D printer. Everyone will be carrying around some little 3D-printed item. They will be used to make jewelry, hair clips, cell phone cases, shirt buttons, cufflinks, etc., etc., etc.

      The computer revolution never seems to end. It just spreads out to include more and more of our lives.

    • Umm I can see a huge number of Keith Haring paintings as sculptures in Walmart now, And then there are all those maze puzzles. And then kiddie coloring book outlines. Where will all the plastic come from?

      Dave B13

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