Anarkik3D: Design for 3D printing can be accessible for all

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Edinburgh based Anarkik3D talks to 3D Focus about how their Cloud9 software could become the desktop publishing software of 3D design for 3D printing, requiring no CAD knowledge.

“Our goal is creating the best 3D place for all non-CAD using creative people (designers, applied artists, artists, sculptors) at all levels of expertise to confidently engage with 3D designing and modelling and access technologies such as 3D printing”. ANARKIK3D

Founded in 2007 by contemporary designer maker Ann Marie Shillito and Software Engineer/ Manager Xiaoqing Cao, Anarkik3D’s goal is to commercialise research findings about the value of touch (haptics) and movement with degrees of freedom for designing in a 3D virtual environment.

The pace, imagination and innovation of 3D printing continues to amaze. Virtual models can be ‘printed’ into real objects using a growing array of materials including sand, metals, plastics, wax, nylon, glass and even ceramics.

3D printing has existed for over 30 years but the last few years have seen exponential growth due to the affordability of 3D printers, advancements in quality and models for enthusiasts like MakerBot.

There are various methods used to build up a 3D model, which vary in cost, quality and speed but the basic principle of design nearly always involves a CAD software package.

For 3D printing, a water-tight 3D virtual model is essential for the ‘bacon slicing’ process. The virtual model must be a complete model with all surfaces (made up of triangular planes that wrap the surface of the object) unbroken.

There are several companies that will handle the 3D printing, once they receive the design profile (think of it as outsourcing your printing by sending a printers a Word document). However, it is not an easy process and many non-designers would not possess the software know-how.

The ‘consumer’ direction that 3D printing is taking encourages more non-technical people to engage with it and Anarkik3D have therefor created a touch enabled 3D sketch/modelling software package called Cloud9 which has been developed to be intuitive to use, fun, easy and quick to learn, and highly suitable for learning the how, why and wherefore to 3D print in customised courses.

 Cloud9 uses solid objects (primitives – sphere, cube, cone, torus, cylinder and a line) from which to model, deform, and construct and uses the common file format .stl which is widely used for exporting to 3D printing. Most users of Cloud9 will make use of 3D print service companies like i.materialise, Shapeways, Sculpteo and Ponoko, who are making direct access as easy and as smooth as possible.

As part of our lead-up to the 3D PrintShow, exhibitor Anarkik3D have produced this guest article exclusively for 3D Focus readers…

To 3D print you need a 3D model but many 3D model creation packages are difficult to learn, expensive to buy as mostly designed by engineers for engineers for mass production. Anarkik3D’s own brand 3D sketch/modelling software Cloud9 is definitely NOT one of these packages. It is artist led and designed for creative designer makers and artists. It is more intuitive to use, easy to learn and great for creating 3D models with organic form. No computer aided design (CAD) experience is needed, models are robust and closed, easily and directly 3D printed.

For Anarkik3D, the 3D Printshow concept and programme is exciting and ideal for showcasing our company and Cloud9. Unlike the usual Industry Trade Show, the 3D PrintShow includes art, fashion and music, and with the focus on 3D printing, it will attract not only product designers but also designer makers, 3D artists, teachers, enthusiastic amateurs and hobbyists intrigued and excited by this technology.

People with little or no CAD experience are the main focus for our attention as hands-on demos show how easy 3D modelling with Cloud9 can be, how easy then to access the amazingly affordable design potential that 3D printing offers.

The advantages of Cloud9 stem from understanding the way designer makers prefer to work, i.e. minimal time away from making and doing, tools straight forward to learn, use and master by being more intuitive, uncomplicated, fun and a practical way to digitally design, model and create unique and individual work.

Cloud9 achieves this with real 3D virtual touch. This is no fantasy. By bundling bespoke 3D modelling software and 3D physical interaction (touch and 3D movement from a 3D haptic ‘virtual touch’ device) Cloud9 taps into the fundamental senses we use to understand our world. The haptic device replaces 2D mouse, touch screen or stylus/pad, etc to provide ‘force feedback’ to give the sensation of touching a real 3D object.  With Cloud9 you really do touch and feel your whole virtual object. The bundle’s price is not fantasy either – £500.

You can try it at the 3D PrintShow…

• Cloud9 has no steep excessive learning curve – the singular most alienating barrier to 3D modelling
• 3D modelling with Cloud9 is total fun: the WOW factor of touching and feeling a virtual object and fully engaging in 3D
• Using Cloud9 anyone and everyone can within minutes create a 3D model – 1st tries are not always beautiful though!                       

Few have tried 3D virtual touch or even seen it so our haptic Cloud9 product is a very new and novel experience which we will demo. At the 3DPrintshow Anarkik3D can get Cloud9 in front of a widely spread and normally difficult-to-reach audience and demonstrate 3D modelling & 3D printing as a viable business proposition. To those seriously interested Anarkik3D offers ‘Creative Anarchy in a Box’ (software/hardware bundled with courses, support and community) to hit the ground running.  Here lie expanding commercial advantages for all creative makers, designers and artists as 3D printed objects are customisable, cost effective as end products and in a range of materials to bypass traditional techniques such as casting into metal or moulding in glass or ceramics.

For Anarkik3D greater awareness leads into the virtuous circle: sales, revenue, R&D, expansion in services…..

We also have more prospects for meeting and talking to investors familiar with the creative sector markets, who recognise the potential of 3D printing for this sector. With their know-how to support and nurture the development of successful products that empower and facilitate Anarkik3D can investigate cloud and rental models for training and facilitating.

Why is the 3D PrintShow needed? The timing is right. 3D printing is now accessible to individuals and designers and proving to have huge potential within the creative industries where its advantages and constraints are well understood. More generally there is exciting realisation and awareness though the hype is getting a bit out of control. By bringing together a more homogeneous mix of industries, users, creatives, facilitators, promoters, consumers, events, etc. into one physical 3DPrintShow arena here at last in the UK is an amazing opportunity to not just realise, experience and see the real extent of the technology but to network and seed collaborations that happen in this mix.

For more information about Anarkik3D visit the Anarkik3D website and their Pinterest page

Anarkik3D will be exhibiting at London's 3D PrintShow in October. For more information, visit the 3D PrintShow website


  • Hands on demos are the best, I find them to be the easiest learning tool, especially in the face of entirely new technology!