Microsoft is doing its bit to help push forward the 3D printing revolution, by adding in native 3D printer support in Windows 8.1. A new API will let developers on its platform put 3D printing capabilities right into their apps, so that you’ll be able to print that elegant ashtray you’re modelling right on the spot. The API will help consumers using devices including those from Makerbot and Form Labs create their own stuff even more easily at home.
This is great news for the prospects of 3D printing becoming a mainstream thing, instead of just an enthusiast’s hobby. And Microsoft is clearly interested in attracting developers who are interested in 3D printing to the Windows software ecosystem. Whether that’s just a way for it to look ‘hip, cool and cutting edge,’ or a genuine big bet on the future of the tech remains to be seen, but at least it’s there to be taken advantage of.
Microsoft support along with the merger of Makerbot with Stratasys means there’s a lot of energy going into mainstreaming home 3D printing tech right now, from some of the largest players in the space. That doesn’t mean we’ll all be printing our own phones at home in two years’ time, but it does mean we’ll probably see a lot more investment focused on this area in the near future.
Microsoft’s Antoine Leblond called printing 3D “just as easy and seamless as printing in 2D” on stage today at Build, and demoed the process of printing a vase from a Windows 8.1 device to the MakerBot Replicator 2. The Replicator 2 will be available in Microsoft Stores soon, too, according to Leblond.