Carl Bass here: CEO of Autodesk, designer, woodworker and maker. I’m here to talk about 3D printers; engineering; the future of how things are made and anything else. AMA!
UPDATE 2: Back for a little while to answer some of the unanswered questions I'll check back tomorrow to see if anything has risen to the top Thanks!
UPDATE: Thanks for having me today reddit, this was so much fun.
A little about me:
• I’m a Cornell grad. (Shoutout to r/cornell!)
• I have my own woodshop and a separate metal/CNC/robot shop.
• I’ve been making things for 35 years, in fact r/OldSchoolCool might find this interesting: here is a picture of me in a boat that I made out of U.S. Army surplus pontoons.
• I’m a total Deadhead.
Thank you to Victoria at reddit for helping me out today!
Here are two recent announcements we’ve made:
We’re giving away our software to students, educators, and schools for free around the world.
Our first piece of hardware, the Ember 3D printer, is now available for preorder.
Ask me anything about engineering; architecture; mathematics; woodworking (Ron Swanson jokes are welcome) and the future of making things. AMA!
Jake get off the Internet!
Is there ever going to be a day where I won't have to sell a child to use your products? Also, props to your company on letting students get copies for free.
Thanks about the comment on free software for students and schools. Totally excited about that.
Things like Fusion are free for startups and enthusiasts.
How many kids do you have?
Have you see https://Clara.io? It is like an online version of your great 3DS Max software that runs in your browser, uses WebGL, has full 3DS Max-style polygon modeling tools and it includes a built-in render farm with real-time V-Ray rendering that streams into the browser.
We are only in beta, but we already have nearly 100,000 users.
Gallery of public scenes, many of them "forkable": https://clara.io/library
NOTE: I am the author of Clara.io, its named after my daughter. :)
I haven't seen it yet, but I'll be sure to check it out after the craziness of Autodesk University and this AMA!
Also, great name.
What does the future hold for 3ds max?
I think think 3ds max is a great product -- it's being used for all kinds of great work. We're continuing investing. I see less use of it in film than before but lots of use for games, design viz and lots of general 3D modelling
Is Civil 3D losing Autodesk's focus? Over the last several releases, we have seen very few upgrades and additional tools for land development professionals. I understand bug fixes and stability are great additions, but I'd also like more functionality/usability for my sphere of development, not just road work.
Carl here, sorry for missing this earlier. I’m at Autodesk University this week and stepped away from my computer after the AMA. We’re absolutely investing in Civil 3D, but we’re also developing newer civil engineering tools. You should check out Infraworks.
If you have more feedback, head to the AutoCAD Civil 3D product forum where the product team can respond to your questions.
What prompted you to offer Autodesk's products for free to students and educators (kudos for that), and what are you hoping to see as a result?
We thought it was the right thing to do.
In many places, our schools are educating the students for a future that no longer exists. We want to help them learn the skills that will help them make a difference in the world.
Hi Carl! - Are you all about that Bass?
Yes, but no treble.
It is exciting that we are about to see an era where everyone can have a 3D printer at home to create. But when will we also see CAD software reach a point where average people can not only afford it, but use it effectively?
Until then, 3D printing will not quite be the revolution that everyone believes, IMO.
You can do it today. Go start using Fusion 360. Shameless plug: it's available for free. http://fusion360.autodesk.com/about
Oh man I am so excited that you are doing an AMA!
One of the hardest decisions of my life was choosing to pursue a degree in computer science over architecture. I have always hoped to eventually work on designing CAD software as it combines my love for both programming and drafting.
My Question: The majority of my experience lies in developing algorithms to efficiently make use of clustered systems. Do you see this being an increasingly useful/marketable skillset as computer clusters drop in price, becoming increasingly accessible to the companies that make use of Autodesk's tools?
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this!
P.S. I would also like to say how much I appreciate that the Autodesk suite is free for students. It has provided me with invaluable experience in software that would be otherwise out of my financial reach.
Increasingly computer design is the language of architecture. The coolest thing that I see happening in architecture is the combination of using computers to do design, like generative design to make more interesting buildings. We’re also starting to see the use of software that drives output like robots that do fabrication of architecture.
3d print a 3d printer: possible? Or nah?
People have done it since the very beginning. The Made in Space team (first 3D printer in space) made the first print, a part for the 3D printer in space. So meta!
For our Ember 3D printer, we've been prototyping all types of parts and printing them on different printers.
What materials can be 3D printed? What are the next innovations?
When can I 3D print in wood, silicon, metal, or glass easily at home?
The most common material is plastic. Metal, carbon fiber, cement, paper, bioproducts, DNA and even food are all possible right now. Lots of work is going on in material science that is going to make a dramatic difference in the next few years.
First of all, I love the fact that both your kids are trying to weasel their way into your AMA.
I really appreciate you guys giving away the software to students, but my experience with free CAD packages (FreeCAD and Google's CAD package) were really great. Not terribly powerful, but excellent for small projects. What is the benefit of your free software compared to these packages? Will your free software have the same or similar capabilities as your full version?
As for the Ember, what sets it apart from the many other choices a consumer has for 3D printers?
Lastly, dumb question, but what was the first thing you 3D printed?
This AMA definitely got me a few cool points with my kids.
Right now for free software, take a look at TinkerCAD, 123D and Fusion 360.
Our free software for students and schools is the very same as our professional versions.
The Ember printer is not really meant for consumers. It's really a reference implementation to show how hardware and software work together. Open software, open hardware and open materials.
Awesome question! Not a bunny or a bobble head. The first thing I 3D printed was a piece of plastic that I tried to use as the basis for a bronze casting. (this is going back to the 90's!)
I'm interested in becoming a Maker, but have next to no experience. What basic tools and techniques would you recommend to someone like me? And what advanced tool would be a good one to learn at the same time?
Everybody thinks that you need to start with a 3D printer, I'd start with a really cheap MIG welder.
Metal is awesome.
The most important thing is to start making stuff you really care about. Find something you really want to make or want to make better and then figure out how to do it.
What are new developments in 3D scanners?
Will the time come when I will be able to walk up to Michelangelo's David, wave a laser up and down it a couple of times and have a 3D model to print at home?
That time is now.
You can do it with lasers and phone cameras.
I think it's rad that the Ember is going to be open! How open is open? Open-source like LulzBot, where the source designs are available online?
Open software, open hardware and open materials.
All the plans for the machine will be online. Good luck hacking it!
According to you, does prohibiting people to 3D-printing a gun online amount to violation of freedom of speech and expression?
3D printing guns is a red herring, a distraction. There are dozens of ways to make a gun—plus you can kill someone with a scissors, so it doesn’t really matter.
Carl, Where do you see the future of 3D printed prosthetics? I am a student at GBC in Toronto & am looking into educating myself on 3D printing, any resources & advice would be helpful!!
3D printing is great for prosthetics and other bespoke orthopedic things.
Take a look at the great work being done by E-Nable: http://enablingthefuture.org/
THANK YOU for supporting educators.
Will Autodesk be exploring laser cutter software?
We (educators, makers, humans) need someone to understand that laser cutters are used for much more than trophy engraving. 123D Make is a great step.
What I'm really pushing for is to have Fusion 360 drive lasers directly.
So I want a feature in Civil 3D to swap multiple pipes and/ structures, why can't Autodesk successfully include this when it's about an 8 hour task plus ui/ux and testing time?
I'm passing it on the product team as we speak. Great feedback!
What's the coolest thing you guys have at AutoDesk HQ?
We have robots, boats, CNC machines, water jets, 3D printers and welders, but the coolest thing is the people that work there.
How about that giant multi-ton conference table swing set? Isn't that cooler than the people?!
I'll do you one better, here's a picture of Buzz Aldrin swinging at the table: http://imgur.com/cmaHX7a
Do you hire? :)
Me personally? Not much. But Autodesk does.
Check out careers.autodesk.com
What are your thoughts on the shortage of tech workers? Truth? Fiction?
Would you recommend a career in software development for a young person? Why?
Only if you think it's fun, but you'll need more skills than just being able to program.
Do you see a future in car parts? I ask because I restore classic cars on the side for fun. Right now i'm restoring a 67 Camaro which is a labor of love. What I have found with these classic cars is that frequently there is Part A that is only made for Model Year Z and finding Part A is damn near impossible.
Do you see trim pieces and non-load bearing coming soon? How about suspension pieces?
The best known person using it to restore cars is of course Jay Leno and his awesome collection.
Huge potential as we start having carbon fiber and metal printed parts.
By the way, awesome car to restore.
Do you think the anticipated impact of 'the internet of things' is overstated?
Yes, in the short term.
Right now, it's really the Internet of "Thing". Most everything doesn't talk to each other, it just talks to my phone. In the long term, most products will be connected.
What's more important in an elementary school curriculum: A wood shop or 3d modeling and printing?
This is like Sophie's Choice for me.
It depends what you want to do, but I think they're both awesome.
Forced to choose, it would depend on budget and space.
As the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, what does your typical work day look like?
Get up early BART to work Go to Peets Most of my days are spent talking to people Come home and annoy my kids. New entry: and brag about knowing Victoria at reddit. (Shoutout u/chooter!)
I'm pretty new to the 3d-printing scene, so forgive me if this is a dumb question. Aside from bio vs. synthetics, what are the biggest limitations in 3d-printing?
Speed- time goes up at the power of 3 and I'd really like to see more materials.
How do you see the market evolving once 3D printers become mainstay?
Do you think companies will stay profitable catering to an ever increasing DIY model?
3D printing is just going to be another tool. Sometimes injection molding will be best, or machining will be best and other times 3D printing will be best.
Mass customization is going to become the norm.
Have you come across any particular applications of 3D printing to legal practice? I imagine that the opportunities are, at present, few and far between. But have you discussed any possible uses with lawyers? Maybe to recreate items for trial?
Haven't seen it being done, but that's interesting.
What are you most excited to see in the design/engineering/maker world in the next year? Five years? Decade? And what do you think are the biggest problems (societal, technical, etc.) we'll have to face in that time?
P.S. That is an awesome-looking woodshop. Do you have any idea where to get started if I want to start woodworking as a hobby?
First off: most excited about really using computers to help us design stuff generatively. (Check out what WithinLab is doing:http://www.withinlab.com/)
The biggest challenges are climate change and unequal distribution of wealth. The robots taking our jobs is not helping.
Good places to get started in woodworking are community colleges and local maker spaces.
Hey Carl, great to have you on here! It seems to me that reality computing is becoming an increasingly interesting avenue to explore for companies such as Autodesk. I'm an especially big fan of the 123D Catch app and how it makes reality computing accessible to the masses. Can you tell us a little bit about what other paths you guys are exploring with these technologies?
I love 123D Catch also-use it all the time.
We're doing some stuff for professionals called Memento and Recap. Good example of this being used to 3D print the bust of President Obama: http://youtu.be/zXkmZObBrEM
Who are you and how did you get in our robot? What would you rather fight - one horse-sized duck robot, or one hundred duck-size horse robots?
I would rather fight the hundred duck-sized horse robots, the one horse-sized duck robot would be too awesome, I'd just stand there staring at it.
What are you planning on building with Project Cyborg? How will you work to ensure nothing dangerous comes of it? http://autodeskresearch.com/projects/cyborg
We're building the software to help scientific and medical researchers.
Lots of thorny, ethical issues around creating and modifying life forms.
Funny story: my friend after hearing a lecture on synthetic biology texted me saying he's no longer worried about global warming since he's so worried about programmable viruses.
Carl - with all the hype right now over SpaceClaim, do you think it's going to throw the whole industry into a tailspin?
How is the Pier 9 workshop space adding to or improving Autodesk as a company?
The output devices of the past were screens and paper. The output of the future is physical objects and Pier 9 gives us the tools to explore this future.
Just wanting to say thank you for fusion. It seems like that is my entry point for cad software. Our teacher actually told us about the free software last month, how long have you been offering free software?
We just announced this week that our software is available for free worldwide for students.
Love to hear that your teacher recommended Fusion.
Shouldn't you be in school right now Willie?
Being a fellow robotics enthusiast.. Is there anywhere we can see yours?
Stay tuned. The robots are arriving at Pier 9 in San Francisco.
Hi Carl! I'm a fellow woodworker in my spare time but I'm also surrounded by engineers/makers who love laser cutters, cnc routers, etc. I'd love to dive into using technology in woodworking which would make me to think about creating in a much different way. But I also think it might kill the hands-on experience in woodworking that I love so much. Do you find you get a much different sense of satisfaction from traditional woodworking methods and tools versus modern technology?
I look at it as another tool to get my ideas made.
There's no doubt a difference, and I've been using a lot of the digital tools as aids for doing traditional woodworking. A lot of my stuff is a blend of doing traditional and modern tech.
I'm upstairs. On the ninth floor of Steuart Tower. Can I come hang?
Sorry, no. I'm doing this from Las Vegas at Autodesk University.
I'll be at Design Night in SF tonight though, swing by and say hi!
I would advise kids 10-13 nowadays to start learning 3D printing, because by the time they are 18 it will be a solid way to walk into a well-paying job before or during college. Do you think that is good advice? What would you add to that advice? What elements should they learn that will be more future-proof and help them become part of the first wave of people able to apply 3D printing in the workplace?
I think it's great that kids are learning how to make things in all kinds of ways, certainly including 3D printing. The most important thing is to tap into people's creativity and use making to solve problems. The most interesting thing to me has been how do you use tools to make that happen.
Mr. Bass, I have a rather specific question for you.
I attempted to download the free inventor software, and the download messed up about halfway through.
I uninstalled everything that had downloaded, and went through the help pages on uninstallation. (deleting registry files and such)
However, when I attempt to reinstall, the installer says I have Inventor on the computer still?
So my question to you is, how do I get your (quite awesome) software on my computer?
Thanks for doing this!
So sorry for the trouble.
Just contact our Autodesk Help Twitter account and they'll jump on it: https://twitter.com/autodeskhelp
Which one of your two sons is your favorite?
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