With plans to launch this fall, MatterRemix is entering the browser-based 3D modeling game with a slightly different twist from what we’ve seen with other browser-based modelers: What if users could take existing STL files and give them an Instagram-like photo filter ‘remix’ for creating custom, sharable, 3D printed goods?

An Instagram for 3D Modeling?

Founded by Dylan Reid and friends at the MIT Media Lab, MatterRemix is the first product from Reid’s new 3D modeling-based startup Matter.io. As opposed to other browser-based 3D modelers where creating from scratch is encouraged, MatterRemix lets users choose from existing ‘proven’ models and apply their own ‘personal’ touch to the final designs, which can then be downloaded freely, easily shared via the built in sharing platform, embedded into a page, or be sent to Shapeways for on-demand 3D printing in a variety of materials.

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What’s significant about MatterRemix is that it doesn’t necessarily require a user to have any prior CAD knowledge other than panning around a 3D object with a mouse (or finger). Even tools such as Tinkercad require a little bit of skill to create something as simple as a potato chip bag clip. With MatterRemix, Reid and company are essentially presenting the user with the option of taking an already-designed object and—like using a photo filter in Instagram—dramatically change the end result of the product while keeping its essence and functionality intact. Ultimately, this is a product that allows non-product designers to become a product designer in an environment that is ‘safe’ and ‘controlled’…and arguably even more so than other introductory CAD programs and apps out there.

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Using the 3D editor, a user is able to upload and edit STL models (or use those within the Matter.io database) and make small modifications. While a user may not be able to completely redesign an object, keeping the original shape is…well, largely the whole point here. Until the mass market is able to tell the difference from an X axis and a Y axis and an extrude from a cut, it’s going to be tools like these that will be the gateway for more intensive 3D modeling apps.

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And what better way to soft-open the new platform than with a customizable iPhone case design during the iPhone 5S/5C announcement? Earlier this month, the Matter.io team put up some customizable iPhone 5C cases and offered users a sampling of their user experience with the ability to download and print their own iPhone 5C case:

“In no other era could a physical product be designed, manufactured and distributed at scale in the course of a few hours. While a new iPhone accessory may seem frivolous, this is only the beginning of what is sure to be a significant shift in the way we create and consume physical things. 3D Printing has the potential to do more than just accelerate the existing product development process, but opens the door to entirely new ways of creating and sharing the things we love — so we can continue to be inspired and inspire others with great design.”

Currently, Matter.io is seeking beta testers to test their MatterRemix platform. As a thank you gesture, they are offering the first 500 beta testers a guarantee that they’ll be able to continue to use the service for free after they unroll paid plans.

(Images via Matter.io)

Author

Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.