Autodesk CEO Carl Bass announced 123D on May 6 in New York in an interview in Wired Business Conference. 123D will be a Windows desktop application for design, but unlike Autodesk’s other software created for professionals, 123D will be targeted towards consumers. It is currently in beta testing.
According to Bass, “There are tens of thousands of people –if not more—who want to make something.”
Autodesk aims to give this software away. That’s right—free!
Mentioned in practically the same breath was a connection with TechShop, a DIY workshop that seems to be popping up all over the US, and Ponoko, a web-based service that bills itself as a “personal factory” ready to build custom products for you.
Free CAD software is nothing new. TenLinks has operated a directory of free CAD software for years (see FreeCAD.com). Autodesk’s own Labs have been making lots of apps available at no cost. Nor is Autodesk the first billion dollar CAD vendor with a CAD giveaway. Dassault has been giving disbursing DraftSight since June of last year.
But what if Autodesk is onto a runaway trend? Is everyone now making things they may only have dreamt of? Is your average Joe already off his butt to invent the better beer bottle opener? Is your aunt ready to churning out quilted handbags in small production runs? Have lovers started making one-of-a-kind wedding rings for each other? Is some genius 10-year old about to create a world saving invention because now -- and only now -- can he not only visualiaze the idea, but also have have holy triumvirate of software, hardware and tools that allow him to hold it in his hands?
This is the so-called “maker” movement. It has many people people buzzing. It has inspired a couple of magazines (Make). It has a annual event (see Maker Faire) that draws 45,000 attendees. A website (Etsy.com) seems to sell every imaginable product --all custom made. And now, big companies are getting interested.
Clearly, Autodesk hopes to ride a wave it sees building. It was back in the 80’s that Autodesk rode the PC wave to the rapid and revolutionary success of AutoCAD. But Autodesk is not a giant content with its present size. From its leadership position in professional fields, it can see so many more people who do not use its software. And it thinks why not?
I had to find out more about 123D and the maker movement. Luckily, the product manager for 123D was available to see me in Autodesk’s Market St Office, in San Francisco, just a beautiful ferry ride away.
Next: Autodesk’s Tatjana Dzambazova Talks About 123D