3D printing is a lot like bacon: Everyone’s talking about it these days—and it’s popping up in places you wouldn’t expect. The latest news is that Adobe Photoshop CC’s new release includes 3D printing tools.
I’m creating an upcoming course on these new features for lynda.com. As I started researching them, I was admittedly skeptical. Having worked with more advanced 3D software like Maya (check out my lynda.com course on modeling for 3D printing with Maya), I thought Photoshop’s previous 3D tools felt rather bolted-on. So it was with cautious optimism that I looked into Adobe’s plans. What I found was pleasantly surprising—including some features that have been lacking in more specialized 3D printing software.
In particular, I was excited to see tools for directly exporting texture-mapped models for color printing. Printing color models has been a particular hassle with existing software due to the complexity of dealing with uncommon formats, texture maps, and UV layouts. The new Photoshop looks like it will make the process much easier. Another key advancement is an automatic thickener for thin structures. If you’ve spent any time modeling for 3D printing, you know how important it is to make sure that a model’s features meet the minimum printing thickness for various materials. With the new tools in Photoshop, you can pick a 3D printing material and it automatically thickens parts of a model that are too thin for your chosen material. This is a major time saver!
Additionally, there’s a new option to export models directly to the online Shapeways 3D printing service, along with tools for scaling and measuring objects using real-world units. If you have your own 3D printer such as a MakerBot Replicator 2, you can even print your objects directly from Photoshop.
(model printed by Shapeways)
So why didn’t Adobe create a stand-alone application for 3D printing? My best guess is that they wanted to show the world they were jumping headfirst into 3D printing. If they had released a new program that nobody had heard of before, it wouldn’t get nearly as much attention. And that’s as good of a reason as any, honestly. 3D printing is here to stay and the more accessible it becomes, the better.
Now all we need is a 3D bacon printer. Your move, Adobe.
Adobe, Creative Cloud, and Photoshop are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated. MakerBot is a registered trademark of MakerBot Industries, LLC. Maya is a registered trademark of Silicon Graphics, Inc. Shapeways is a registered trademark of Shapeways, Inc.