While 3D printers are becoming smaller and more affordable/accessible (MakerBot, RepRap, Mantis, etc), the software we use to build the virtual models still assumes that the user is a professional trying to design a satellite. Within the Media Lab, we’ve tackled a similar problem of computer programming with a project called Scratch. And so the question became: Is there a way to take CAD software and make it easy and fun to use? Where hobbyists, kids, makers, and anyone else interested in 3D Printing could dive in without having to first learn SolidWorks or AutoCAD.

 

Simultaneously, I was watching virtual creation after virtual creation being built in Minecraft. Then it occurred to me, Notch (the creator of Minecraft) hadn’t just built a game. He’d tricked 10 million people into learning to use a basic CAD program. Sure, no one would be using Minecraft to design a rocket engine (though, now that I’ve said that, someone will certainly try to prove me wrong). However, the goal was never to replace professional grade CAD software, but to drastically lower the barrier to entry for 3D modeling and printing. I’d say we succeeded.

After recruiting Jason, from the Camera Culture group, it took an afternoon to code up the initial iteration. After a few weeks we felt it was ready to be released into the wild. The response was incredible…

Resources

Minecraft.Print()
Open sourced code
User friendly web-app version (mostly finished, but on hold until IAP)
 

Press Roundup

Forbes
Tiny BoingBoing mention
Small Blurb in WSJ
Joystiq
CrunchGear
CrunchGear (again)
The Escapist
Minecraft Forums
Hack-a-Day
Rock-Paper-Shotgun
GeekoSystem
Geek.com
MakerBot
GeekTechBlog
TechSpot
VizWorld
ElectricPig
Neatorama

Creations in Minecraft