Sep 3, 2015 | By Alec

Over the past few years we’ve noticed that portions of the 3D printing community have regularly struggled with 3D modeling software. After all, the hobby itself isn’t cheap, so do you splurge on expensive, professional tools, or do you stick to a more limited free one? And does your programming experience limit your choice, or are you willing to learn a new language for the sake of the software you found? If you’ve struggled with these issues yourself or are unhappy with your current setup, then we’ve got some good news for you: a brand new, free and open source online 3D modeling tool has just launched a beta version; called CraftML, it is especially interesting for being accessible through common web technologies including html, css and Javascript.

Instead of some obscure startup, CraftML has actually be developed by a diverse team of talented students called the Sikuli Lab. Located at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Sikuli Lab has been founded by Tom Yeh, Assitant Professor at the Department of Computer Science, and it combines the talents and experience of a wide range of PhD, Master and undergraduate students. 3D printing has been a big part of the Sikuli Lab team, as we learned about a year ago when they developed a 3D printed tactile picture book for the visually impaired.

And as Tom Yeh explains to, that previous project played a very big role in the development of CraftML. ‘Originally it was an internal tool we developed and used to make it easy to design 3D-printed children’s books,’ he tells us. ‘Since then, it has evolved into a general-purpose, versatile modeling tool capable of designing complex 3D printable models.’

As they have embedded some seriously interesting options for a free 3D modeling tool, the Sikuli decided to share it with the rest of the world. Included amongst its unique features are a brand new 3D modeling markup language for web designers and the ability to – as mentioned above – to use ‘classic’ and very commonly used web technologies such as html, css and Javascript.

However, we here at are most impressed with the student’s dedication to open source sharing and redevelopment. For as you can see if you head over to online platform all existing 3D printable models – and they have already developed quite a few – can be freely accessed and modified with relative ease. Perfect for easily improving and modifying existing creations to suit your own needs.

In turn, this obviously also means designs you make using CraftML immediately become freely accessible to all. ‘We claim no intellectual property rights over the material you provide to the service. All modules are published under the Creative Commons license and can be viewed publicly through your profile,’ Yeh says. ‘You grant to us the right and license to reproduce, modify, adapt, and prepare derivative works, display, and otherwise use all or part of your content.’ In short, CraftML is completely dedicated to the open source values that support the 3D printing community as a whole.

From our perspective, it seems that CraftML definitely has what it takes to become a very useful addition to your making arsenal, so be sure to check out the beta version. The only downside is that it currently only works in Chrome and Safari, but that will change in the near future. Bugs are actively being removed, while support for IE will be part of the forthcoming update.



Posted in 3D Software



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John Pickens wrote at 9/10/2015 2:40:36 PM:

Yes, this looks like Openscad with a browser interface. How is it better/worse/different?

Hoj wrote at 9/3/2015 4:09:46 PM:

How does this compare to OpenSCAD?

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