3D Printing Goes Mainstream With Windows 8.1



“WOW!”  Microsoft’s recent announcement that the upcoming release of Windows 8.1 was going to include built-in support for 3D printing is great news for everyone, especially to those who follow the industry.

This is a solid indication that 3D printing is becoming mainstream and a big catalyst for its continued adoption. As Microsoft states on their official blog:

“Making a 3D object on your PC will be as easy as writing a document in Word and sending it to print. Just as desktop publishing transformed how we write, we think desktop manufacturing will transform how we create.”

3D Printing Goes Everywhere

The inclusion of 3D printing support in Windows 8.1 is a major leap forward in the establishment and development of the infrastructure necessary for 3D printing to become truly ubiquitous. Beyond just increasing awareness, Windows 8.1 makes 3D printing accessible to everyone, on multiple platforms, with a simple and familiar interface.

It includes:

  • Driver model and Plug-n-Play support for 3D printers
  • Enabling 3D design apps to seamlessly submit 3D print jobs
  • Understanding 3D file formats
  • Connecting apps with hardware
  • SDK Support and Samples

Here are a few resources for software developers who want to support 3D printing in their applications.

First of all, if you are not really familiar with 3D printing, you can get up to speed quickly with many of the free resources found on the Stratasys web site. In particular, I suggest that you start with the white paper:  A New Mindset in Product Design.

After that, I would watch this video from the Microsoft Build Conference. This video includes demos of 3D printing from both a Windows Store application and a Windows desktop application, as well as some brief guidance on how to incorporate 3D printing into your own applications. There is also a brief discussion of how manufacturers such as Stratasys develop Windows-compatible drivers for their 3D Printers.

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