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iPad App Lets You Sculpt Virtual Clay, Then Print Out Your Art

Incredible new software lets you stretch, knead, and mold virtual clay — using only your fingertips.

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Tomorrow’s Michaelangelo will never even touch clay. Not if he gets his hands on Beautiful Modeler, amazing new software that lets you sculpt with the iPad.

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The tool, by interaction designer Karl D.D. Willis uses a series of touchpoints on the iPad to mold a virtual clay model. You can stretch it, squeeze it, twist it — play around with it exactly as you would clay or wax. The model is displayed on your laptop or desktop computer, so you can actually see what you’re sculpting.

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The finished model (above) can then be exported as an STL file and fabricated immediately. In the film, they manage to 3-D print a little plaster lamp that looks like a hunk of Swiss cheese. It is awesome.

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The implications of Beautiful Modeler could be huge for artists and product designers. CAD software for 3-D modeling is hard to learn and hard to use; it’s one of the biggest barriers facing independent designers, who want to produce their own wares but don’t have the technical savvy to do so. Here, you’ve got a simple tool for you to whip up complex shapes using only your fingertips. Lots more details on how it works here.

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About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D

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