Archive for March 7th, 2011

MakerBot Pipeworks & Tribute to Classical Sculpture: Gansta Pis by cibomahtoby

Gangsta Pis by cibomahto

Half prank, half tribute to classical statuary (well, Belgium in the 1600s at any rate), the Gangsta Pis by cibomahto nonetheless introduces a compelling strategy into the DIY 3D printing landscape: internal pipeworks.

Error - could not find Thing 6914.
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How do you automate 3D printer maintenance?


Coasterman's Makerbot Oiling Script

Coasterman's Makerbot Oiling Script

What I love about this new frontier of 3D printing is that everyone can contribute to making DIY 3D printing better for the world.  Even a small improvement can make a big change to the overall community – but raising awareness and drawing in support for a new problem or solution.

Look at basic 3D printer maintenance, this was just something I had always done – but never given much thought to.  Coasterman, on the other hand, found a way to ensure consistent and efficient oiling of a MakerBot Cupcake’s rods.  He’s created a GCode script that will move the platforms around and guide you through the maintenance process.  Now that he’s published this, it’s probably only a matter of time before it is adapted for a Thing-O-Matic or RepRap and then even integrated into ReplicatorG!

To run the script, your machine needs to know where zero is, and then you can run it. In other words, if you move all axes to zero, the machine should put the nozzle on the platform on the center. Endstops are currently not supported.

The machine will prepare for oiling and the script will produce messages to guide you through the process. It will move off to one side for you to oil, then the other side to expose the rest of the rod, then run the axis back and forth to make the oil “set in.” Also, to make oiling the Y easier, it keeps the X off to one side so you have space to stick the oil bottle in.

Oiling Tips:
When oiling the rod, squeeze a bit out over the length of the rod. If little drops of oil start to form hanging below the rod, take a paper towel and suck up the extra oil. The oil should cover the rod but not drip below it.

If, like me, you don’t have wicked software or hardware1 skills, you can always find a way to help out the community.  Just look at your ‘bot and think about what you’ve done to improve it.  Chances are you can help out a lot of people just by posting your thoughts, ideas, or design files.

  1. Or writing []
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FaceCube! Copy Real Life with a Kinect and 3D Printer by nrp

nrp's FaceCube: Copy Real Life with a Kinect and 3D Printer

nrp's FaceCube: Copy Real Life with a Kinect and 3D Printer

I think the Penrose Triangle controversy of last month has definitely proved that if you really want to inspire a maker to build something – show them a picture of it, but don’t tell them how you did it.  Thingiverse citizen nrp cites the Fabricate Yourself project as the impetus behind finishing up his own work on FaceCube.  Nrp put together a great write up on his Thingiverse page as well as an even more detailed background on his work on his own blog.  While the process of taking the point cloud from the Kinect to a final usable manifold and printable STL is a multistep and multi-program process, nrp hopes to make this a one-click solution.

Being able to copy real everyday things is a really cool development.   It may sound mundane, but my favorite use of a 3D scanner would almost certainly be to create replacement parts for broken things – just scan all the broken parts, reassemble in a computer1 , and then crunch out the replacement part.

Then again…  I’d almost certainly use it to mashup real objects.  🙂  Like, um, this mug and this… whistle!2

  1. I’d probably use my new best friend OpenSCAD []
  2. So I can whistle while I work. []
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3D Design 101: Gridding the Six Views

The Six Faces of 3D

In a previous design tip for creating models using 3DTin, I briefly mentioned a low-tech hack for gridding up a source image in Inkscape so that you can more easily eye-ball what you are doing within your 3D design app. I feel it is worth mentioning this again to show how I’m using this technique right now for something far less 2.5D than the Mario Cloud pendant I was making at the time.

“Gridding up” an image (ie marking up an image with a ruler or line tool) for orthographic, 1-pt, 2-pt, or 3-pt perspective offers a designer a tool for analyzing cues for depth, profile, and placement: a rather old trick frequently used when generating technical and architectural drawings where the measurement of component parts is the key information. Gridding plays a particularly important role in computer visualization where moving the camera position within a modeling environment is now possible (even probable). How will the model skew when seen from this or that angle?

While there has been a lot of discussion lately about the need for an accurate, inexpensive 3D object scanner priced proportionate to a MakerBot printer1, here is a low-tech technique that will help you get to work modeling while other folks are pouring their energies into clever solves for single-angle point-cloud generation or the construction of elaborate tracking/capture rigs.

When you model an object from real world2 you can move the camera (yourself) around the object and see it from multiple perspectives. (Or turn it around in your hand.) While many 3D modeling apps allow you to move the camera anywhere around a model both possible and impossible in the real world,3 these apps also tend to have options built-in to lock your camera perspective to right angles to the model on the X, Y, and Z-axes. This means that you can typically use quick key commands to move to each of the “six views” (think of a 6-sided die) in turn: X+, X-, Y+, Y-, Z+, Z-.

Well, rather than pulling out a protractor, a graphic calculator, and working out the math for gridding up a photo from a single perspective so that it contains all of the information you need to model it, you have the luxury of capturing the six default angles in the real world extremely simply (ie straight-on with much less attention to skew) and marking over the image an orthographic grid and the additional notes you need when considering your model from that locked view. By using your reference sheets and switching between the six angles, you can very quickly create a baseline for even an incredible complex model. And once you have a model that fits essentially to each view, you can better put your efforts to the tweaks, deformations, texturing, carving, and other techniques that will help you reach your goal for the project.

Centimeter Gridded Coffee Mug (Annotated)

And how is this for a low budget 3D scanner? If your object is small and not terribly heavy, you can place it right onto the bed of a scanner or photocopier and grab a photo of each of the six views. To instantly generate a printable grid in Gimp go to Filter > Render > Pattern > Grid for a really powerful/tunable grid filter. Is your shape not a cube? No problem! Use bags of dried beans, string, or other no-fi support to position the model so that it is where you want it. Did you lose part of the object in a drawing due to support? No problem! You can write down or trace over the image with any additional information you need that is obscured from that angle.4

If you have a more permanent place to setup a rig, you might try setting up a camera at a fixed height over a table and grab your references this way. As the topmost surface of the object will likely be at a different height from side to side, you might take a queue from Marty and Amy’s Nickel for Scale project, placing a common object such as a nickel on the top of the object you are referencing so that you can rescale each perspective reference to match the known dimensions of the reference object to adjust for the differences in height.5

This method is not perfect — i.e. it still depends on your skills as a modeler to move from the simple shape to the completed part — but it has a nice high-proportion of useful data to noise that can actually be an advantage over analytic scanning tools that have difficulty differentiating what details are important for the model.6 What is the essential form and what is texture or light scatter? Your eye will tell you far more quickly than your tracking/scanning algorithm. When you get comfortable with the six-views method you can go from zero to basic model fast enough that you can target your modeling attention to specifically what you want out of the model instead of fighting with simplifying a messy points cloud.

  1. Taylor’s MakerBot 3D Scanner kit is an awesome project for grabbing depth cues from a single view of an object at a time, and pretty much a killer 2.5D machining app. []
  2. Or exists in the negative, i.e. you know where it should fit! []
  3. and even simulate any lens type you can dream of []
  4. Try throwing a towel of a color in contrast to your part over an open scanner or photocopier to make sure you capture all the way to the edges of the figure []
  5. There is also the “prop on books” technique where you mark a standard height on the legs of a tripod and use books and magazines and other at-hand shims to raise the object to match the “reference height.” []
  6. Similar to the expressive advantages of a drawing or illustration over a photograph. []
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Thingiverse Thingalert: Penrose Cube Illusion by chylld

You may have heard about the…um...recent hubbub regarding this well-known visual illusion.  However, I’m not sure if everybody has seen how amazing Thingiverse Design chylld grabbed the idea and took it up a notch.

If you ask me, the real news here is the awesomeness.  Make sure that this illusion doesn’t blow up your mind!

Error - could not find Thing 6546.
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