Dassault Systemes 3D modeling initiatives

A very intriguing article in the IHT about how Dassault Systèmes wants to jump on the Web2.0 bandwagon with their new 3Dvia division. They aim at democratizing the usage of 3D so that everybody can use it in its everyday life in a pure "marketing investment" fashion. Their motto is "We have been in the background for 20 years, We want to be visible now. It's our turn":

"With a new division called 3DVia, the company, based in Paris, is targeting ordinary consumers as future clients of its complex three-dimensional modeling software. Visitors to the free 3DVia Web site, which is still in test mode, have designed and "built" chairs, buildings, sailboats, "Star Wars" materials, fantasy characters and numerous other products.

In partnership with Microsoft, Dassault also introduced a free online application two weeks ago that allows users to create 3-D models and put them on the map, sharing them on Microsoft's Virtual Earth and with online communities. (...) Dassault has plans for a "virtual lab" on the Internet that could be rolled out as a service that is paid for by the use. "We believe this is the future," he said, "we want to be the eBay of 3-D. But it's true, we are still working out the business models.""

okay but I am not very sure about this:

"Stephen Lawler, general manager of Virtual Earth at Microsoft, said that teenagers were already intimately familiar with sophisticated 3-D rendering technology from their sometimes-daily exposure to video games. They know what to expect from 3-D computer creations and are comfortable in virtual worlds like Second Life, he said, while people unaccustomed to computerized modeling might need training and exposure."

Besides, playing 3D games do not mean that creating 3D models can be easier. Why do I blog this? Curiosity. In addition, what I am surprise of is the tone of this article that only focused on 3D modeling in a digital environment and did not really tackle something that is more appealing to lots of people (especially kids): rapid manufacturing of 3D models. It's even more surprising hen you consider the Cosmic Modelz system they have which allow kids to print 3D model stuff made with Cosmic Blobs.