MatterRemix is the Instagram of 3D modeling

It’s common knowledge among makers that when it comes to 3D printing, learning how to model has the steepest learning curve. Printers, including affordable ones, have gotten to a point where even children can learn how to operate them in only a few hours. The same cannot be said about most modeling software.

The more powerful programs like 3ds Max and Solidworks can take years to master, with many users learning how to use them in higher education settings. Sure, there’s Tinkercad and Leopoly that take considerably less time to figure out, but what if you don’t want to start from scratch? If you’ve already got a model that you want to edit there aren’t many options besides importing it into one of the advanced programs that has an interface that requires a manual to navigate. But now there’s MatterRemix, which was made specifically to address that issue.

Behold J, the Gentleman Jackalope! That took about two minutes to cobble together after uploading the Stanford Bunny. MatterRemix is still beta with limited functionality, but what’s there works well. The tools are quite basic and their use very simple. Texture can be changed (J is ‘ceramic’), effects like ‘facet’ can be applied, text can be added, a collection of pre-made objects can be attached, and a Lego bottom can even be added. Models can be sent to Shapeways or downloaded as STLs for printing on a local printer.

Dylan Reid, CEO of MatterRemix explains the purpose of the app, “We start with the assumption that content creation is hard and that most people’s creativity exceeds their ability to realize their ideas in a meaningful way. Those problems are more acute in 3D design where space is difficult to navigate. Our ultimate goal is to be able to match people’s inherent creativity and taste with tools that will let them materialize their ideas in physical form.” He’s right of course; many people have great ideas that they just don’t know how to model. The same was true for photo editing when the only option was PhotoShop. PhotoShop is easier to use than 3ds Max, but Instagram is much easier to use than both because it has one-click filters. The idea with MatterRemix is to bring that kind of manipulation to 3D models.

“We’ve taken our greatest inspiration from 2D design tools and think there’s a lot of lessons to be learned from their evolution. At one point photo editing was something only a small group of people engaged in and now with Instagram and Aviary, it’s something nearly all of us have contact with. There are obvious differences between the 2D and 3D design, but we think the analogy is instructive when it comes to user experience. What’s magical about photo filters, that is completely missing from the 3D world, is the ability to make meaningful transformations with the click of a button.”

But changing textures isn’t enough. Truly customizing an object requires being able to add to it, which is where combining meshes becomes necessary. Merging meshes is decidedly more difficult than many other 3D processes, so MatterRemix presents a solution there as well. “We’ve found merging meshes is a big problem for a lot of people. While good merging operations are technically difficult to pull off, I actually think the much bigger challenge is in user interface design/ UX. If you’re not an experienced CAD user, orienting two objects and defining the points at which they intersect can be really frustrating. In MatterRemix, objects orbit around one another so they’re always touching and in the future users will be able to define how the object meshes move relative to one another and how they intersect.”

And it works. The simplification is a bit limiting, but as Reid states, the feature will be improved. It’s fun to play with at the very least, and it’s (currently) free so you’ve no excuse to not go try it.

Source: 3D Printing Industry