3D printing has reached a milestone of sorts. On Thursday, Adobe, whose software has dominated the field of desktop publishing, announced that its venerable Photoshop program will now support 3D printing.
Photoshop CC, which is part of Adobe's Creative Cloud, has been updated to include features that enable users to build, refine, preview, prepare, and print 3D designs. Designers can create a 3D object from scratch or refine an existing object using common Photoshop tools to generate ready-to-print 3D models. Additional features include automated mesh repair and support structure generation.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, prints solid three-dimensional objects on a printer using a computer-generated model, with layers of material laid down successively to create the object. Since it was introduced, 3D printing technology has seen a burst of interest, beginning with hobbyists and consumers, and rapidly evolving now for commercial and professional applications. The new technology is already being used to produce equipment parts, dishes, sculptures, architectural and geographical models, and even for medical and surgical applications.
Winston Hendrickson, vice president products, Creative Media Solutions at Adobe, said in a statement that the new print capabilities “take the guess work out of printing 3D models for everyone.” He added that previously, “there was a gap between the content produced by 3D-modeling tools and what 3D printers need in order to deliver high quality results.”
Using Photoshop CC, the print command can be sent to a local 3D printer, or, via built-in access to a set of online 3D print services. The company said Photoshop CC supports the most popular desktop 3D printers, including the MakerBot Replicator and users can add their own printing device profiles.
Photoshop CC supports special materials such as ceramics, metals, full-color sandstone, and other materials that are available through the Shapeways 3D printing community and marketplace.
3D models can also be uploaded via Photoshop to the Sketchfab 3D publishing service, and embedded in artist profiles on the creative site Behance for viewing through the Sketchfab 3D viewer. Normally, Behance only displays JPEG formats.
Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot, described the Adobe adoption of 3D printing as “huge,” and predicted that “a massive influx of people will now have access to 3D-modeling tools.”
Despite the hoopla, it is important to recognize that Photoshop has not been known for its 3D-modeling capabilities, beyond some basic functions. Therefore, at least in the beginning, users will likely need to upload a 3D model created in other programs and then output it in the stereolithography (.stl) format. On the plus side, a 3D designer could find Photoshop's new 3D support especially helpful for adding finishing touches, such as adding textures and related details.
Extension of Free Trial
Annual membership to use Adobe's Creative Cloud costs $49.99 monthly, or, alternatively, a user can sign up for one app for $19.99 per month. Adobe is allowing anyone who signed up for a 30-day free trial since the Creative Cloud opened in May of 2012 to start another free trial for test-driving Photoshop's 3D capabilities and other recent enhancements.
In addition to this 3D printing addition, Adobe also announced on Thursday a new 3D Perspective Warp function, which it had originally demonstrated in May of last year. The Warp function allows a more sophisticated perspective correction of multiple assets than was available previously.