There are only a few things that get me excited: mild shocks, alligator punching and web-based 3D. I wish I could say the following combined all three, but two outta three ain’t too shabby.

Benjamin Nortier from London, UK has done the unthinkable. He’s taken it upon himself to develop a free, parametric 3D modeling program for the browser, whereby combining alligator punching mild shock and web-based 3D. He’s just started down the path of shaking up the 3D modeling possibilities, but as you’ll see, he’s already able to go from model to 3D print.

Putting 3D Modeling in the Browser

For a breakdown of what inspired Benjamin to take this on, and why other modeling programs are not adequate, you can read his thoughts at his blog. While not unheard of, putting a 3D modeling program on the web is ambitious. Especially for one person. Is a browser capable of handling 3D geometry? Why not? Sure there will be the large assembly and feature-nazi skeptic, but if you see the goals Benjamin has, I think anyone would agree the idea is attractive.

Benjamin’s goals is for a 3D modeler which:

  • is cheap, free or opensource
  • is parametric and has variables for complex models
  • has a productive UI

The only thing I’d add to that is cross-platform. Take a look at how far he’s come…

There are three components he’s using to make all of this possible:

  • The HTML5 WebGL-enabled browser
  • A RESTful service running webmachine in an Erlang VM
  • A C++ OpenCASCADE worker node, powerful open source solid modeller developed in C++

You’ll notice the creation of the geometry is currently all numeric entry. The ‘features’ pile up over to the left of the screen, allowing you to go back and edit the previously created feature while keeping the references connected.

Onto Something Big

Benjamin is onto something big here. Never before has parametric modeling been shown on the web, not even with Spatial’s SPAWeb3D App. Spatial’s app only supports Internet Explorer. Ben’s supports any browser with WebGL support (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Webkit). Another plus for Ben’s use of WebGL… it doesn’t require a plugin.

I’d suggest Benjamin get this on Kickstarter. I’d support it. Would you?

Via Fabbaloo


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.