The Future of 3D Printing + Photoshop CC

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Last year, Adobe added 3D printing into Photoshop. Recently, Adobe announced that a future version of Photoshop CC will sport new features related to the 3D printing process. The new features will simplify the process of sharing 3D design mock-ups through improved support to embed 3D designs within a PDF. In addition, the forthcoming features will allow for more support for 3D printers, file format and printing services (get more details at the bottom of this post).

We chatted with Andy Lauta, strategy consultant at Adobe, to get his point of view on the future of 3D printing and what it means for graphic designers. Get the full scoop below.

3D Printing and Photoshop CC

Photoshop-CC,-3D-Printing,-Hub-SupportLast year marked the first time that 3D printing support had been added to a mainstream creative tool like Photoshop. Andy, you mentioned at the time, “This is going to be an exciting opportunity for our consumer base. And it’s going to have a big impact on 3D printing industry as well.” At this time, are you seeing the beginnings of this impact your predicted?

The target audience for Photoshop 3D printing tools is the creative professional. However, there is a halo effect with some consumers from the maker audience also using the tools. Photoshop CC was named best professional software at the 3D Printshow London in 2014. We don’t have a long trend of data, but from what we’re seeing, the active use of the 3D printing features is trending upward. Because it’s already available for all Creative Cloud customers, it allows creative professionals and artists to experiment in cool and exciting ways without the need to learn or purchase new software.

“We’re working to make it more efficient and accessible to take 3D content and use it in a lot of different ways.”
—Andy Lauta, Adobe

Who are the “consumers” that will opt-in to 3D printing in the next five years? Where will creative professionals/graphic designers fit into this process, and what will that look like in terms of materials and products created, and how/where they will print?

Although there are some consumers in the maker audience using Photoshop for 3D printing, most consumers will adopt 3D printing through purchases of 3D printed goods. Ultimately, our focus at Adobe is enabling the creative professional to create compelling content with emphasis on improving the color process.

We’ve seen heavy use of 3D printing for creative prototyping for product designs, as well as for character or prop develop for movies. For example, all the characters in the stop motion film The Box Trolls were developed using 3D printing. However, there are also other creative use cases for 3D printing, such as fine art (for example, artist Sophie Kahn), in fashion such as work from Bradley Rothenberg or Francis Bitonti Studios, and jewelry—uses by artists such as Paul Liaw.

A lot of these artists and creative professionals will use desktop 3D printers for creative concept prints, where it’s OK to produce a low-resolution in plastic. In general, desktop 3D printers take a lot of care and feeding, and are difficult to set up and maintain. Some newer printers are coming out that will make them more reliable, but most designers send finished goods to be printed through 3D services, such as Shapeways, where they have access to commercial, high-resolution printers.

These forthcoming updates to Photoshop CC are intended to make the 3D printing process even easier for creatives. Will the future see Photoshop remain a “finishing tool to create and edit” rather than a full-blown modeling tool to compete with other 3D printing models?

At this time, Adobe does not have plans to make Photoshop a full-blown modeling software. Where we’re focusing is engaging more people in the 3D process, and allowing many groups to composite a 3D object into multiple uses. 3D printing is one downstream output for 3D content, but not the only one.

For example, there may be one person on a production crew who needs to design from scratch the monster for the next Hollywood blockbuster. However, there may be dozens more on the marketing and promotion team that need to incorporate that 3D model into movie posters, figurines and other promotional content. Our focus is really on this latter group, many of which may already use Photoshop. We’re working to make it more efficient and accessible to take 3D content and use it in a lot of different ways.

We also see 3D scanning as a big catalyst in the 3D printing space. As 3D scanning picks up, customers will be able to easily scan high-quality objects without the need to design from scratch.

Can you provide any examples of recent, excellent 3D printing designs that showcase what Adobe allows users to do in terms of incorporating color into high-quality content?

A great example of how 3D scanning and Photoshop allow designers to do exciting things is the Jeri statue from James Stewart. His original sculpture was designed by hand using clay. The statue was then cast in bronze, and then digitized through 3D scanning.  He then used Photoshop CC to add color and detail.

While Photoshop is primarily a finishing tool, some artists do design from scratch within the software. For example Francois Veraart developed his latest sandstone piece completely from scratch within Photoshop.


Still from a video of sculptor James Stewart and his statue Jeri as a cast bronze piece and a 3D print tattooed in Adobe Photoshop.


The Forthcoming Photoshop CC 3D Printing Features

Photoshop-CC,-3D-Printing,-PDFPrint to 3D PDF formats
Photoshop CC users, 3D printer manufacturers and 3D printing service providers can now take advantage of the ISO standard 3D PDF file format to enable 3D printing job submissions and workflows. This is intended to streamline their processes and reduce costs. Print to PDF runs the 3D model through the 3D printing pipeline, so files are automatically checked and repaired prior to creating the 3D PDF file.

Support for 3D Hubs
3D printing through the 3D Hubs service will be directly available via Photoshop CC, so customers can submit print jobs to service providers in their local area through the worldwide network.

Support for Tinkerine Ditto Pro
A printer profile for Photoshop CC supporting the Tinkerine Ditto Pro will be available for download via Once installed, users will be able to print their 3D models directly from Photoshop CC to their Ditto Pro printers.

Print to SVX formats
Photoshop CC users are now able to produce high-quality, full-color, sliced 3D models using the SVX format for color 3D printers. The 3D printing pipeline in Photoshop CC verifies and updates the file when converting to SVX.


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