A team of Cornell University engineers have developed Endless Forms, a new interactive website that allows users to design their own things without any CAD drawing expertise.
The engineers explain that the growing fleet of 3-D printers is largely idle because the availability of ‘content’ for them is bottlenecked by the old design technologies like CAD that people don’t know how to use or don’t have access to, stifling creativity.
The 3D Printing Industry is bottlenecked by people not knowing how to use CAD
Created by Jeff Clune, Cornell postdoctoral fellow; Jason Yosinski, Cornell graduate student in engineering; and Eugene Doan, Cornell undergraduate student, EndlessForms.com allows users to develop objects in the manner a gardener raises roses.
In the program, a number of objects are displayed, and the user chooses objects they like. The liked objects are then mutated (in an evolutionary sense) to produce the next generation of forms.
Over time, objects evolve and can be published by users. Visitors to the site can further evolve, share, and rate designs, creating a collaborative exploration that in many ways represents a new way of thinking about design. Users can then have their objects fabricated by 3-D printing companies.
The site’s creators say that instead of being mired in technical details, the new design tools free people to focus creativity, eliminating the need for engineers to draw in CAD programs that can be complicated and non-intuitive.
I used it myself, and found that starting from scratch was a very long process. I highly recommend that you start with one of the pre generated forms.
This tool is an excellent way to teach children about evolution with the added bonus of them being able to easily print their finished form via a tool like Shapeways or download the STL file and have it printed in a classroom 3D Printer.