Elon Musk, the world’s busiest rich dude/mad scientist, has just posted a video showing off the Iron Man-inspired 3D modeling setup he tweeted about last week. Because people don’t compare him to Tony Stark* enough, right?
By combining the gesture-sensing Leap Motion controller with an array of different display technologies (like the Oculus Rift VR handset, a 3D Projector, or a crazy translucent glass display that looks like it was pulled right out of Starks’ lab) and a modified version of the Siemens NX design suite, SpaceX’s engineers are able to zoom around and inspect their models without ever touching a mouse.
It’s a bit unclear, though, whether or not they’re currently able to actually design models within the gestural setup, or just inspect models they’ve made with more traditional tools. While the video shows Elon and his engineers doing things like scaling, rotating, and even cutting away at meshes, it never demonstrates anyone building something anew. As anyone who has ever worked with 3D modeling software could tell you, this stuff tends to get crazy complicated, with each app having dozens upon dozens of menus and a few zillion hotkeys to memorize (especially when you’re designing with any sort of precision in mind). Squeezing anything but the most basic modeling concept into a set of motion gestures seems… difficult.
After stepping in and around their designs, SpaceX’s team is able to send their models straight to a (presumably crazy expensive) metal extrusion laser sintering machine (read: a 3D printer that prints in metal) to be made into real-world prototypes.
Welcome to the future. Your jetpack will ship out next week.
[* Which actually makes perfect sense, since, you know, Jon Favreau's version of Tony Stark is straight up based on Elon.]