Drawing 3D objects for printing is not a trivial undertaking. There are a multitude of programs available but they all have a steep learning curve and most of them are more focused on creating 3D objects to put in virtual environments like games than on creating things to print. It’s tough enough dealing with this as an adult, working with kids adds in a whole additional layer of frustration. So it was with great interest that I came across Printcraft.
Printcraft is “the world’s first 3D printing multi-player Minecraft server”. The process is very simple. You sign on to a Printcraft Minecraft server where you will be given temporary control over a defined plot of virtual land. You build something on the land and then you press ‘print’. Your model is then available to download for printing on a local 3D printer or you can send it off and have it printed on an outsourced printer. You can also share it on Thingiverse. The process seems to work perfectly.
Of course, this is really going to appeal to two groups. The first is kids, and adults, who are into Minecraft. They can get a real-world version of their Minecraft creations – the limitation being that they have to build it on the Printcraft server within a 24-hour window. The second group is people wanting a quick and easy way to create a model for 3D printing – the limitation there being that it’s a great way to quickly create something but it’s always going to be a blocky, Minecraftian model.
My sons, who fit in both groups, were impressed. Their conclusion: “It’s great but there are some limitations. You can’t use all of the materials in building. For example you can’t use beds, glass, stairs.”
Printcraft is free, simple and very clever. Full details on www.printcraft.org.