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New app lets kids turn 2D drawings into 3D-printable models with ease

In the same way that it’s easier to order takeout food rather than whipping up a home-cooked meal, it’s much more straightforward to download a ready-made 3D printing model than it is to create your own. A new Kickstarter campaign wants to help change that with the aid of a new app designed to turn 3D modeling into such a cinch that even youngsters can do it.

“The inspiration for the project came after I had assembled my own 3D printer,” co-creator Rick Companje told Digital Trends. “I found that it was very easy to print things I had downloaded from the web, but much harder to draw something from scratch myself. There were complicated 3D CAD programs available, but I thought that it really should be easier — particularly if you wanted to get kids involved with this field at a young age.”

The result is a new app called Doodle3D Transform that lets users easily turn regular 2D drawings into fully fledged, 3D-printable models.

Related: 3D-printed topographical maps could help bring classroom lessons to life

“Almost anyone is able to draw something in 2D,” Companje continued. “The idea was to come up with a way to turn that into a three-dimensional model — and to show people that this didn’t have to be a difficult transition to make.”

The app gives users regular drawing tools including a pen, eraser, and paint bucket, and then lets them easily add 3D depth in a straightforward, intuitive way.

Companje acknowledges that the app is not likely to replace pro-grade CAD design tools anytime soon, but as far as offering a coding-free entry point into 3D printing for children, it’s perfect for classrooms or after-school learning.

“Certainly, there are some shapes you cannot make by stacking layers on top of one another as we do here,” he said. “But this is really designed to be more of an introduction for younger or newer users. We’ll certainly listen to our users, though, so that we can hopefully grow alongside them in terms of what we offer in future.”