Here's one way to preview the next iPad: Print a 3D model of it

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What will the next iPad have?

Apple is expected to show new products at the March 21st press event, and a new iPad Air is thought to be one of them. The firm skipped showing off an upgrade to the current 9.7-inch iPad late last year and focused all attention on the big iPad Pro. It’s time for a new iPad Air and it seems logical that we’ll see the next one at the event.

March 21 apple event

Rumors of what we might see in the iPad Air 3 (or whatever Apple plans to call it) have been swirling around for a while, but the folks at Techsmart used 3D printing to show the next iPad. Getting its hands early on a case for what it’s been told is the next iPad, Techsmart carefully 3D scanned it. Then they developed a model of the next iPad using scanning of the case to get exact dimensions and used the cutouts for the iPad to get it as accurate as they could.

Taking the final 3D model of what very well may be the next iPad, a 3D printer was fired up and they created a physical model of the next iPad. The dimensions and controls are accurately produced in the model.

Based on this long process, it appears the next iPad will have the following hardware features:

Smart connector – This first appeared in the iPad Pro and it makes sense Apple would bring it to the standard iPad. This allows it to work directly with keyboards, and hints that Apple will produce one for the next iPad as it did first with the iPad Pro.

Four speakers – This also first appeared in the iPad Pro, and a loud, quality audio system was the result. The speakers may have to be smaller due to the size of the smaller iPad but it looks like it’s trickling down the iPad line from the Pro.

Flash camera – The thought that this is coming is based on a cutout in the case next to the camera lens. While taking photos with tablets isn’t popular, it looks like Apple expects owners to do so.

Otherwise, the 3D model created shows the next iPad Air will be much like the current iPad Air 2. The model looks to be much the same size as the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2.

Techsmart shot a video showing the features on the 3D printed model.

Apple is known to give information to case makers in advance so there are third-party case options when a new device is launched, so this case the Techsmart folks got hold of may be real. It’s important to remember it may not be, however, so Apple may still have a few surprises up its sleeve at the press event.

Sage, The Intuitive 3D Modeling & Printing App for iPad has Launched

s1There is no doubt in my mind that the future of 3D design will be incredibly intuitive. Up until recently, CAD software was something used within business settings by users trained on the software for years. These individuals possess talents far exceeding mine. The software was not meant for people like myself, who can barely hand draw something as simple as a pumpkin or even a football.

Then 3D printing emerged, giving ordinary people like you (well most of you) and I the ability to fabricate pretty much any design we wish. With this new technology comes the desire by many to create their own unique 3D models for printing. Over the last year or two, CAD software has improved, and new applications for smartphones, tablets, and computers are emerging with intuitive interfaces that even your grandma could figure out.

One such software comes in the form of a new iOS application for use on Apple’s iPad, produced by a company called MediaUtopia. The app, called Sage, allows for the creation of unique 3D models using a s3simple touchscreen interface. Once a user has created something that they wish to print, no 3D printer is necessary. Through a partnership with iMaterialize, Sage will allow its users to pay a fee and have their creations shipped right to their doorsteps.

As for the the Sage application itself, which can be downloaded here, I spent a little time playing around with it this morning. I’m not great with directions, so I skipped them and dove right into the app. Within a few minutes I had figured out how to use the main features of the design tool.

There are already a number of interesting models which one can work off of. Once selected, the user is able to use a variety of tools to quickly, easily and intuitively shape that object anyhow they’d like. There is also a pretty interesting ‘Surface’ feature which will allow for the coloring of an object with a few simple tools. One of my favorite options within Sage, however, is the ‘Random’ icon. s4When selected, whatever model a user has on their screen will randomly transform both its shape and surface colors. I could literally sit here for an hour watching new colorful designs appear on my iPad screen, and when the ‘Play’ feature is activated, those models begin rotating in all directions almost putting the user into a trance.

Once a user is happy with their model, they can save it, share it via their favorite social networks, or ‘Make” it. When the ‘Make’ icon is selected the system will automatically calculate a price for iMaterialize to 3D print that specific model. If the user agrees, they can simply ‘check out’ and have that model shipped to them.

There are a number of applications out there which enable some of the same basic features. It really depend on the person, which one will suit them best.  Sage is free to download, and will provide hours of fun even if you don’t have a desire to actually print out any of your designs. If you do, however, please share them with us in the Sage 3D Modeling App forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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