Exclusive: Rip, Mix, Burn Gets Physical with 3D Printing Startup Matter.io
“If 3D printing is ever going to cross over into consumer applications, there needs to be some radical new thinking about 3D design” — Dylan Reid, CEO of Matter.io
The company, founded earlier this year by MIT and Cornell alums, aims to bring Instagram-like ease to 3D modeling and 3D printing. The team has ambitious plans to create a “modeling layer” on top of the the world’s 3D content but is starting with a standalone web application for “remixing” existing STLs.
“There seems to be a consensus that simple content creation is the biggest bottleneck to consumer 3D printing,” said Dylan Reid, co-founder and CEO of Matter.io. “But for all the talk, there’s surprisingly little innovation. Simple geometric modelers have been around since the inception of computer aided design and digital sculpting tools have been used by the entertainment industry for over a decade. We believe that if 3D printing is ever going to cross over into consumer applications, there needs to be some radical new thinking about 3D design.”
Radical Thinking and Instagram Inspiration
This “radical thinking” is driving their design principles. Reid and his team observed that there are currently three major buckets of design software:
- High end 3D modelers – expensive desktop software that is really complicated to use and have a steep learning curve, but provides highly precise 3D models; examples include Blender, Maya, and 3D Studio Max
- Basic geometry kits – desktop or online tools that let a user play with polygons in a quick and easy fashion, but take some real effort to design anything with aesthetic value; examples include Tinkercad and Sketchup
- 3D sculpting tools – software that lets you push and pull a digital ball of clay in 3D which makes for interesting creative designs but it’s difficult to get millimeter precision; examples include Leopoly and Sculpteo
Content creation is hard because CAD is hard, Reid explained. What users really want is the Instagram experience: simple input that creates designs with high precision and aesthetic value.
“Our ultimate goal is to be able to match people’s inherent creativity and taste with tools that will let them materialize their ideas in physical form,” said Reid. “We’ve taken our greatest inspiration from 2D design tools and think there’s a lot of lessons to be learned from their evolution. At one point photo editing was something only a small group of people engaged in and now with Instagram and Aviary, it’s something nearly all of us have contact with.”
He continued, “What’s magical about photo filters, that is completely missing from the 3D world, is the ability to make meaningful transformations with the click of a button. As we look beyond where we are now, into the future of personal fabrication, we see a lot more 3D design working this way: reducing complex functionalities to the click of a button or the push of a slider bar.”
Exclusive Invitation to Designers and 3D Printing Enthusiasts
Starting today, Matter.io is opening up Matter Remix to a small number of users as part of a closed Beta.
Matter.io has given us an exclusive registration code: ON3DP. Use that code and the company promises that you will never pay for the online tool and your account stays active after they close down registration.
If you get involved, share your thoughts on Matter Remix with us in the comments or on Twitter with @On3DPrinting!