MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Though 3-D printing has generated a lot of buzz and interest in the industry, the lack of widely available equipment has made the process inaccessible to most regular would-be consumers. My Robot Nation from Kodama Studios, however, could be changing that, bringing out printable 3-D robots just in time for the holidays.
The service emerged from Beta on Wednesday (Nov. 30) with a promise of nine billion different robot design combinations, which users can create by themselves at home using a web browser with WebGL 3-D graphics. Once the robot is designed, it can be ordered and printed out by Z Corp. and sent directly to the buyer’s door.
Pricing for the printable ceramic-like robots ranges from $18 to $170 based on size, with the larger robots measuring up to six inches tall. The smallest robots measure just two inches, with the most popular size measuring three inches and costing $25.
“WebGL allows us to create and manipulate 3-D objects right in your Chrome browser in real-time – something that was previously only possible in PC applications or consoles games,” said Mark Danks, the co-founder of My Robot Nation, previously a game designer at Sony.
By taking advantage of 3-D hardware acceleration, he said, consumers could create their robot in a fully interactive environment, using industry standards like WebGL, HTML5, and CSS3 to display high fidelity graphics directly inside the browser.
Dank’s fellow co-founder, Sarah W. Stocker, is also a veteran of the video game industry, having previously worked at Electronic Arts Inc. The pair’s background is strongly reflected in the game-like and highly graphical UI.
“Robots are only the beginning,” said Stocker, noting that the platform was flexible enough to allow for the creation and customization of objects of any kind.
“We believe that 3-D can improve and be a key component to any number of experiences and will be much more ubiquitous than just for gaming,” Danks added, noting that this was especially true now that GPUs were standard on all modern computers.
“WebGL provides GPU acceleration capabilities to web applications of all kinds, for example games, education, visualization -- and now, with My Robot Nation, consumer-focused 3-D printing,” added Kenneth Russell, chair of the WebGL working group, saying he looked forward to seeing what other new domains would emerge for web applications in the future with increased usage of GPUs.
Google has already featured the Robot Nation service as an exclusive Beta on its Chrome Web Store. Once a robot has been created online, My Robot Nation showcases the design in its public gallery where others can “like” and share robot photos on their social networks, as well as repurpose shared designs from other members.
You can see a video of the robot making process below, as well as another video on Z Corp.’s printing process.
As the article points out, one of the key issues has been “the lack of widely available equipment” that has made the process of self-designing and printing 3-D items “inaccessible to most regular would-be consumers”. It seems the issue has since been overcome, with My Robot Nation now offering robot design combinations which users can create themselves at home simply using a web browser with WebGL 3-D graphics, to be printed by Z Corp. I’m wondering if other printers already offer such a service for 3-D, including printing companies in PA and NY. My Robot Nation co-founder Sarah Stocker says “robots are only the beginning” and “the platform was flexible enough to allow for the creation and customization of objects of any kind”. This is a mind-blowing and exciting prospect for other items that could be printed, and may well revolutionise the printing and commercial industries. For instance, print companies in PA, such as in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, could use it to print NFL merchandise.
I think my son would love to design his own robot! I think it is every boy's dream to have a chance in creating their own robots, adding the colors and the various moving parts. With advanced 3D printing technology, I am sure it can be accomplished.
Hey editor, since this is a website for professionals shouldn't we have a little more professionalism in the titling of articles. This is a story about 3D printing of toys not robots. Sure they are toys that resemble robots but they are not, in fact, robots. It's similar to a story about Barbie dolls bring titled, "Mattel makes people."
Jon - http://www.evosite.co.uk/
I can't wait until I can either buy or make an inexpensive 3D printer. I am already building a 3 axis CNC kit from MYDIYCNC.com. They are already looking at adding an extruding head for the device. If you can design it, you can build it. Everything else is just an issue of scale and durable materials.