Kenan O’Keefe explained to me that, since he discovered CAD in high school thanks to an effective pre-engineering track, he was able to cultivate his skills and passion with 3D modelling tools like AutoCAD and Inventor. And, as a student at Carnegie Mellon, he continued improving because he could use a student license to work with such powerful parametric CAD programs. Then, graduation approached and, like many soon-to-be graduates, he freaked out thinking about the “real” world. For Kenan, the real world meant losing his student licenses and, therefore, a lack of access to such great, but expensive CAD tools.
Upon graduation, Kenan found himself stuck between paying thousands of dollars for something like Solidworks or using free 3D modeling programs like SketchUp. SketchUp might work for some entry-level designers, but after having gotten used to the more robust suites he’d been using for the past nine years of his life, free tools just weren’t up to snuff. Rather than wait around for someone else to develop a suitable CAD program that was powerful enough for tinkerers like himself, without the attached price tag, he developed his own.
After using a technology that allows for 3D rendering in one’s web browser, WebGL, Kenan came up with a parametric CAD program that can also be run through your browser. Three months of development and Honeycomb is finally ready for beta testing. Here, you can watch a video of how it works below:
As you can tell, the program’s interface is pretty simple. Like Inventor or Solidworks, users can draw 2D images, which can then be extruded or revolved to create 3D shapes. Kenan is in the process of developing a feature-tree work environment where users can return to previous mathematical steps and edit them to modify a given model. The software is compatible with 3D printing so that you can download your model as an .stl file or send it to online services like Shapeways or Thingiverse.
You can sign up to be a beta tester right now by following this link to the Honeycomb website. The software is completely free, and will remain so, but will eventually operate on a freemium principle, allowing users to pay for extended features. Kenan is in the process of seeking funding and a co-founder so that he can get Honeycomb off the ground and get all of the little Makerbees the tools they need to start making pure, 3D-printed honey.
Now, if only we could get everyone’s high school to be as good as Kenan’s. Of course, we wouldn’t want the tracking system to create students like Daniel Desario (James Franco) in Freaks and Geeks: