3D Printing from an iPhone?

I recently read an article on Solidsmack.com which I found interesting, mainly because I am an iPhone user and have often wondered why there weren’t any CAD type applications

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3D Printing from an iPhone?

As it turns out there is a 3D cad modeller on the iPhone caller iTracer programmed by Fabio Policarpo, and it is actually quite good. It’s no Solidworks but it is an interesting first attempt at simple 3D modelling on an iPhone, there is even a Ray tracing and export options.iPhone_1

I purchased this app from the UK iTunes store for £1.79 which is pretty reasonable considering what you are getting. There is an export option included which requires an SMTP email account (Gmail, Mobile me) so that the exported file can be emailed out (no save to disk option for export). The export file is in the 3DS file format, at this point a light bulb went off! I can import 3DS files into our 3D print processing software so I decided to find out whether a model created on an iPhone could be 3D printed?

I used the standard shapes that are included with the software with a little bit of moving around to make sure all of the objects were touching so as not to create an unprintable part. I also experimented with the software and created a part with the characters “3D” going through the middle of it. As you can see from the pictures these are very simple shapes but this was just to prove whether it could be done.

I emailed the parts to my office ready to have a look first thing in the morning. I first attempted to read the files in Meshlab but the parts came out incorrectly, so I then tried it in our Magics software and amazingly the parts imported with everything in the correct place and with minimal errors. The different components were treated as separate parts so a Boolean operation soon sorted that out. The only other issue was the part was in meter’s which again with a quick scaling operation was cured.

The next stage was to use our 3D printing software to process the model and send the information to the printer, and as you can see from the photos below you can indeed print models that have been created on an iPhone!

iPhone_2 iPhone_3


Example prices (Low cost option)

Cube & Sphere

Bounding box: 11.5 x 10 x 19mm

Volume: 1.3 cm^3

Build cost: £7.50 (min. build charge)

Delivery (UK): £7.50

Subtotal: £15.00

Total inc. VAT: £17.25


"3D" Shape

Bounding box: 24.6 x 24.6 x 10mm

Volume: 3.3 cm^3

Build cost: £9.08

Delivery (UK): £7.50

Subtotal: £16.68

Total inc. VAT: £19.07


Visit the Apple App Store via iTunes to learn and buy the program.




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