Microsoft Hops on 3D Printing Bandwagon with Win 8.1 App

Jumping on the trend of using printers to churn out objects, Microsoft has developed a 3D printing app for Windows 8.1, betting that this will become mainstream.

Jumping on the trend of using printers to churn out objects, Microsoft has developed a 3D printing app for Windows 8.1, betting that this will become mainstream.

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Windows 8.1 has plug-and-play support for printers and "understands" 3D file formats, and the upcoming 3D Builder app will leverage those native OS features, Microsoft said on Friday.

"Now, with the 3D Builder app, we've made it even easier for people to create and print objects in 3D," wrote Microsoft official Kristina Libby in a blog post.

The app, available now for download from the Windows Store, comes with a set of predefined objects that users can modify and adjust, including toys and ornaments, the company said.

3D Builder can also be used to print out objects designed in other applications or downloaded pre-built.

"We're entering an exciting new era in which everyone will be able to create and print three dimensional objects. Just imagine being able to print a spare part for a household appliance, or creating your own jewelry line of custom 3D-printed earrings," Libby wrote.

3D printing vendors 3D Systems, MakerBot and TierTime will add support for Windows 8.1 in their products before the holiday shopping season, according to Microsoft.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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