SAN RAFAEL -- Autodesk is choosing the magic bus route to both gauge and spark interest in its new 3-D design and manufacturing technology.

[caption id="attachment_92830" align="alignleft" width="385"] The Autodesk 3DRV bus is a rolling advertisement for the "Maker Movement."[/caption]

A wildly painted RV pulled out of San Rafael last week for an eight-month tour of more than 100 cities, towns, schools and national parks "to explore how 3-D technology is fundamentally changing the way things are designed and made," the company said.

The world's leading design software company has basically put together a rolling advertisement for the "Maker Movement," a largely California-spawned interest in do-it-yourself manufacturing. Appropriately, one of the 3DRV's first stops was the Maker Faire in San Francisco on May 17-18.

According to Robert Shear, director of  the Autodesk Reality Solutions Group, the company is on top of three major manufacturing trends involving 3-D capture, design and fabrication.

"There's digital capture of images using smart phones, digital cameras, laser scanners and other devices. Autodesk leads the world in 3-D capture software," he said.

"We have computer-aided design (CAD) tools that bring sophisticated design capabilities within easy reach of just about anyone, including my nine-year-old son."

And Autodesk just launched an open source software platform aimed at makers of 3-D printers, to bring costs down and improve the user experience.

"We loaded the RV with equipment. You could call it a revolution in a box," said Mr. Shear.

The 3DRV (, accompanied by tech blogger and 3-D enthusiast, TJ McCue, is visiting Autodesk customers across the country, demonstrating capture and design technologies -- including the use of aerial drones -- and fabricating the results on a 3-D printer.

[caption id="attachment_92831" align="alignleft" width="360"] Jim Carducci shows how he will use the software during a tour stop.[/caption]

At Carducci Dual Sport in Sunnyvale, the Autodesk group learned from owner Jim Carducci. He has used the company's design software for 20 years, first in the semiconductor industry and now building customized dual-sports -- on- and off-road -- motorcycles based on a Harley Davidson chassis.

"I have a suite of AutoCAD, Inventer, and Showcase that I use from the geometric design through 3-D modeling of components and structural analysis," said Mr. Carducci. "I pride myself on using software to test out how things fit together and perform before we machine any parts."

 "The tour is a chance for our customers to meet us face to face and for us to meet them," said Mr. Shear.  "It's also a way to give 3-D technology a wider showcase, to expose it to a greater volume of people."