Whether you’re looking to print an Aston Martin or a birdhouse, Microsoft promises you’ll be able to do it more easily with Windows 8.1. Redmond is looking to iron out the wrinkles currently associated with 3D printing — like metadata loss during exporting and limited communication between apps and printers — and make 3D printing more like 2D printing so it becomes “more seamless and ubiquitous.” The software giant’s plan for making it all happen? Defining a standardized feature set that represents what current and future printers can and will do, for one. Microsoft is also pushing for the use of its own 3D data format (3MF) that addresses the current’s (STL) shortcomings — most notably its lack of support for different colors and materials. October 17th probably won’t be the day 3D printing explodes, but these are certainly welcome steps toward that happening. Now, if Ballmer and co. could just bring the price of the printers themselves down then we’d really be in business.
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