Microspot has released 3D Toolbox for Macs, a free, easy-to-use, 3D application for editing and printing 3DS and Google SketchUp models, which can be upgraded to include rendering, animation and modelling by adding low cost plug-in packs .

The free download enables users to import 3DS and Google SketchUp models into the application, add a background and base plate and then position, resize and do simple editing on the scene ready for viewing and printing.

The 3D Toolbox is a small application with some basic plug-ins. For £9 (US$15/€12) users can upgrade it to enable high resolution exporting in any QuickTime translatable picture format and saving in 3DMF. Users also receive the Library pack so they can drag models in to save them and drag them out to re-use them in other scenes.

Once users have upgraded they can purchase other low cost plug-in packs to expand the functionality to include modelling, rendering and animation.

The plug-in packs include the £25 ($39/€32) Light and Render Pack, which enables users to add and adjust point lights, spot lights, sun and ambient brightness and choose from three different renderers including a raytrace renderer. The £17.50 ($29/€23) Texture Pack allows textures to be added to items or surfaces, with support for adjusting the size position and rotation of the texture, move attributes from one object to another.

The £17.50 Camera and Alignment Pack contains 4 palettes for aligning objects, aligning the camera, nudging objects into place and switching on and off the cursor options. The £25 Animation Pack contains tools to set up the tweens for the user's animations and export them to a QuickTime movie. Users can animate the camera, objects and lights including the sun and ambient brightness.

The Basic Modeler Pack -- which costs £17.50 -- consists of eight tools for modelling primitive shapes: cube, sphere, cone, pyramid, regular polygon, cylinder, irregular polygon and torus. The £17.50 Advanced Modeler Pack 1 comes with a palette to control Boolean operations and tools for edit path of an object, edit vertex, a shear tool and a 3D text tool. The £17.50 Advanced Modeler Pack 2 comprises a lathe tool and a palette to adjust the section of lathed and other objects and a pipe drawing tool.

The £25 Wall Tools Pack includes wall drawing tools, menu items for adding floors and ceilings and a palette for tagging objects that are to be doors and windows so they fit themselves into walls. There is also a palette for the precise positioning of windows and doors.

Microspot says that it also intends to release other plug-in packs in future months to add further functionality.