As the number of apps available on the Android platform has recently passed the 400k mark, one can notice that the functional diversity of those apps is nothing short of staggering. Ranging from video games to productivity apps and on to social networking apps, Android has become a platform for about any app you can think of, plus a few that you wouldn’t have imagined before actually bumping into them.
If you tend to disagree with my last sentence, hear this: a group of devs from Johnannesburg that go by the name of House 4 Hack have come up with a way to allow you to design a three dimensional model on your Android device, then print it with a 3D printer, without the need for a PC.
The app, called MakerDroid, was originally developed as a means to teach kids about current technologies and their interoperability, but, according to the developers themselves, it could very well be used in the future as a “fabrication tool”. MakerDroid is currently not available for the masses, although the source code was released to the general public.
The mechanics involved by MakerDroid are fairly simple in concept, but admittedly a challenge to put into practice. The first step of the process involves creating a polygon by tapping lines on your Android device. To aid users, an image (even one taken with the device’s camera) can be used as a background, and then traced to create the model you want. This 2D polygon is then extrapolated into a 3D model which, in turn, can be converted into a GCode file format that a 3D printer can interpret. The GCode file is stored on the internal SD card, so all you have to do next is take the SD card, insert into a 3D printer and Bam!, a few minutes later, you’ll be holding a 3D model of the polygon you designed. This is about the best I can do to explain the process in words, but thankfully, the people from House 4 Hack have also posted a video that showcases the entire process.
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Wow. I like the fact that it was meant for educational purposes. It just amazes me at what is out there on the Android Market…and like you said, stuff that you would never dream about until you bumped into it.