Autodesk nabs netfabb to boost 3D printing
Not a dull week — not at all. Autodesk just stepped up its game in 3D printing by saying it intends to acquire netfabb, a German software company, and by making a strategic investment in netfabb’s parent company, FIT Technology. netfabb makes software that creates optimized .stl files in order to make 3D printing faster and more efficient in its material usage, all while making the resulting objects stronger. There’s a really cool example on the netfabb website of a 3D-printed reef. Coral reefs are fragile ecosystems that house an incredible variety of marine life. In order to support that diversity when the reef fails or is in need of bolstering, humans started creating artificial reefs years ago, from toppled offshore oil rigs and other structures. netfabb has an example of a 3D printed reef where “microstructuring which can imitate complex, organic topologies efficiently in terms of material, meaning less material and weight and an increased surface area. And don’t forget the nice look!”: According to the summary, “Netfabb was used for boolean operations and for generating .stl files […] and Netfabb Selective Space Structures™ was used for the generation of the internal panel geometry. (p. 268) The main benefit of using the Netfabb software was for the creation of internal geometries within the panels of the Roccia assembly and for the generation of the deep scaffold for the (in)human habitat project. (p. 348) “This surface roughness was created intentionally by experimenting with .stl file export functions (tesselation) within the Netfabb software. […] Surface texture, as discussed in chapter (6.2.1), in the form of uneven and rough surfaces are the easiest for coral polyps and other sessile (stationary) marine life to attach themselves to. Providing these surface types aids the colonisation of the reef by these marine creatures.” (p. 329)” I’m not entirely sure I know what all of that means — but it creates instant credibility for Autodesk in the world of additive manufacturing and takes it out of the realm of makers into the industrial world. Autodesk says that netfabb has over 80,000 users, who use its solutions for everything from running a 3D print shop (quote creation, for example) to checking and repairing build data, and optimizing print jobs. Samir Hanna, Autodesk VP, Consumer & 3D Printing, said in the announcement that Autodesk plans to continue to develop, sell and support netfabb software standalones, while integrating netfabb technology into other Autodesk solutions including Fusion 360 and the Spark 3D printing platform. Autodesk says it will use foreign capital for the transaction, which is expected to close in Autodesk’s Q4 FY2016. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Image courtesy of netfabb.