Thursday, December 8, 2016

[3dprint] IceSL online

We just released IceSL online. If you enjoy solid modeling (CSG) and 3D printing, don't miss it! You can directly model with code (in lua!), customize objects (in real time!) and generate G-code from your web browser.

From a technical point of view, IceSL online was quite an endeavor. Imagine taking a state-of-the-art GPU modeling and slicing engine, that by the way requires OpenGL 4.2 to run, and now squeeze it into a WebGL 1.0 javascript engine...

... Errr?

That's also how I felt the first time the thought occurred to me: no way! But well, who does not like a challenge :-) It turns out WebGL 1.0 is more or less at the level of what was available back in 2004-2006 when I was a PhD student and postdoc. And at the time, I had quite some fun with GPU programming. Only, 2016 GPUs are much much more powerful. This is a perfect situation for a complete abuse of good old-school OpenGL GPU programming! And this is what made IceSL-online possible. It is a new engine, yet it shares many (most) core algorithms with IceSL (the new version, not yet released) and SliceCrafter (slice STL files online).

I am hoping to find the time to describe how it works -- nothing ground breaking for experts, but it is quite fun. Even possibly a bit novel. In any case, I hope you'll enjoy using it!

Of course it has limitations compared to the desktop version and it will not support large designs, but most of my models work just fine in it. I have already made several projects, and it is super convenient to fire up the web browser, customize or model a little something and directly get the G-Code for a quick print. I am also hoping it can be a good educational tool, to learn programming and 3D printing.

Stay tuned for upcoming features, and please spread the word!