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    A free, downloadable design tool, 123D allows anyone to design 3-D models, and then turn them into real-life products.

    “It used to be that in order to make things you needed these big expensive machines,” Bass said. “Now you can produce things at high quality, at relatively low volume and relatively low cost.”

    Best known for its flagship product, AutoCAD, which is used by thousands of professional designers — not to mention Hollywood studios — worldwide, Autodesk is clearly making a bid for the consumer market. And Bass has realized that increasingly, innovation is bubbling from the ground up, rather than trickling down from mega-institutions and companies.

    “One of the things that we’re seeing is that technology is increasingly starting with consumers, and then moving up into business,” Bass told in an interview after his appearance at the conference.

    To be fair, the logic behind this free product isn’t completely altruistic. Autodesk is, after all, a business — and a large one at that. (The company had sales of nearly $2 billion last year.)

    Bass said he hopes that some 123D users will “graduate” up to Autodesk’s more professionally-oriented products.

    More than anything else, however, 123D represents Autodesk’s realization that there is, in Bass’s words, “an unbelievable community of people who want to be making things.”

    “There are tens of thousands of people — if not more — who to create something,” Bass said.

    Autodesk is teaming up with two companies, Ponoko and Techshop to help everyday ‘makers’ produce products. Ponoko offers a service where people send their designs to the company, and the company will make the parts and send them back to the consumer for assembly.

    Techshop operates like a fitness gym for makers. Membership is $125 per month, makers buy their own materials, and then assemble their idea in the Techshop workshop, in the company of other makers.

    Autodesk’s partnership with Ponoko and Techshop will allow people to turn their dreams into reality — literally, Bass said.

    “It’s not just for making a digital thing, it’s for making physical representations of things,” Bass said. “Anything you can imagine, you can make.”[Source]
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