Autodesk is sponsoring an eight-month 3D RV (recreational vehicle) 100 stop tour of the U.S. that celebrates the future of how things are designed and made. Led by TJ McCue, host, writer, and 3D enthusiast, the 3D RV tour is visiting America’s cities, towns and off-the-beaten path byways to explore a powerful and fundamental change in the way things are designed and made, and the implications to business and to society at large. xyHt visited with TJ during a week-long visit to the nation’s capital, Washington, DC.
xyHt: You mentioned that there are four distinct themes for your tour. Would you list them and briefly explain each.
TJ: Overall, I’m trying to share that 3D design, scanning, printing is now much more accessible for everyday consumers as well as for professionals. It is more affordable (some great apps are free). It is easier to use. The tools are so powerful.
xyHt: Please describe how a typical visit goes.
TJ: It varies so much. Some places we go in and laser scan their shop for them. At others, they are walking us around showing us how they are adding a 3D printhead to a CNC machine or how they are bending metal (Ford Motor Co) or printing sensors in jet engines (GE Direct Write) or making shark-durable cameras (sharkweek visit to WHOI – Woods Hole Oceanographic).
xyHt: You are about halfway through your tour. What’s the overall reaction been from the folks you’ve met?
TJ: Super positive. People are amazed to know they can get access to free tools and invent, create, imagine in new ways. It is so cool.
xyHt: We noticed that Faro is also one of your sponsors. What’s the reaction been to 3D scanning?
TJ: People are really curious about how laser scanners work and almost always spend the most time asking me questions about it, and talking to the knowledgeable Faro reps who often support me at informal meetups.
xyHt: Do you see 3D becoming mainstream?
TJ: Absolutely. It is about the tools. Once people see that they can get the tools, you can see the lightbulb go off and ideas/questions start bouncing around.
xyHt: Which area of 3D will become most mainstream the fastest?
TJ: Printing is certainly the poster child, but I think it is the apps that will let you scan and design something you can print.
xyHt: Was there any particular application or idea for an application of 3D technology that caught your attention? Perhaps something you hadn’t thought of?
TJ: Prosthetics seems obvious now, but i didn’t realize the enormous need for this. 10-15 million people have lost a limb in this world and many cannot afford the prosthetic — some cool open source folks are changing that. eNABLE is one of them.
xyHt: What does Autodesk hope to gain by sponsoring this revolutionary tour?
TJ: I am an independent journalist so I can’t speak for them directly, but I believe that like me, they hope to set people’s imaginations free, to spark that excitement that 3D makes possible. They are an amazing company with people who really believe and stand behind the 3D community. They wanted to do a grassroots effort to meet the people doing cool things with 3D tech and to share those stories with the world.
xyHt: Your wife and 11-year-old son, who is being home schooled, are your partners in this adventure. What roles are they playing?
TJ: They help me at different stops and we scan and design and print together. We hang out with uber cool makers like Jeff Tiedeken in Berkeley, Jason and Brad at the NASA Research Center in Langley (Long Live BIM!!!), Craig Breckenridge up at Canada’s Dynamic Structures (makers of many things — most notably the roller coasters at Disney and Universal) and with Wayne Losey who is part of Modio3D — an iPad app that lets you create a custom toy, sort of like LEGO, on steroids. To be on the road without my family, for so long, would be near impossible, so Autodesk helped create this vision of us all embarking on this learning roadtrip. We do a lot of listening with truly impressive people. We couldn’t name a favorite; we’ve been touched by so many.
xyHt: When your tour ends in (San Francisco) around the end of the year, what’s next in your 3D evolution?
TJ: My little company is growing and doing more research in 3D, sharing what’s hot, what’s next.
xyHt: If readers cannot visit with you in person how can they keep abreast of your tour?
TJ: 3DRV.com lists out most of the stops, but it has changed a bit. There’s a lot of moving parts, ever-changing logistics, but we’re doing our best to meet as many people and organizations as we can.