As the 3D printing industry expands, and the technology itself grows larger and larger, it also – in many ways – gets smaller. The early days of 3D printing were dominated by massive, bulky industrial printers, which still exist, but consumer desktop 3D printers are getting increasingly lighter and more compact, while still offering plenty of features and allowing consumers to print relatively large objects. It’s a lot like the evolution of the cell phone – the earliest models were the size of house phones and did nothing but make and receive calls, while today’s phones are pocket-sized and allow users to manage their entire lives.
Along with 3D printers, 3D printing and design software is evolving to get smaller and more mobile, while offering users all the features of much larger programs. Recently, 3D printing software has begun to appear in app form, which is about as small and mobile as you can get. The latest offering comes from technology company Transform & Lighting. Founded in 2013 in the Italian city of Pisa, the company specializes in computer graphics and computer vision solutions for both business-to-client and business-to-business markets.
Transform & Lighting’s latest product is Emb3D, a mobile 3D viewer designed for both Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. The user-friendly app is free to download, but it offers features that compare to several paid software programs. A powerful rendering engine is capable of rendering even highly complex 3D models, while a simple, easy-to-navigate toolbar lets users easily select different rendering modes and visualization settings.
“Nowadays 3D content is used in a wide range of fields by professionals working in many different industries,” said Andrea Baldacci, CEO of Transform and Lighting. “What we wanted was to build a quality solution that could let all of them work easily with their 3D data.”
Emb3D’s rendering engine is capable of handling complex 3D meshes and point clouds consisting of millions of polygons and points, as well as fully textured models with normal, diffuse, ambient and specular maps. Users can choose from a variety of rendering styles including solid, point cloud, wireframe and transparent x-ray, and a high-precision virtual trackball allows for accurate and precise inspection of models. The app also supports multiple file formats, including STL, PLY, OBJ, and COLLADA (DAE), as well as zip files.
Like most apps these days, Emb3D includes easy social media access. Users can share their work via an in-app screenshot feature that connects to social media and messaging apps. 3D models can be easily opened from email attachments, Dropbox, WhatsApp messages, and more.
The versatile Emb3D was designed to appeal to a wide range of users including artists, game designers, modelers, and architects. Although it’s a brand new app, it’s already gotten high user ratings – and the fact that it’s free certainly helps, as there’s nothing to lose from trying it out.