CastAR and Holographic Print Preview for 3D Printers!

CastAR and 3D printing

Google glasses this, Oculus rift that, CastAR… With all these new vision devices coming out, the world of augmented reality is fast becoming, well, a reality!

Here’s a really cool concept [Ryan Smith] came up for 3D printing. Using [Jeri Ellsworth's] CastAR, [Ryan Smith] has created a really cool technical illusion to demonstrate visual prototyping on his Makerbot. Using a laser cutter he’s perforated the front plastic panel of the Makerbot, which allows a semi-transparent overlay that when you use the CastAR’s projector it gives you a holographic visual effect.

The glasses track the reference object (in this case, the gear) and then project interfacing gears in an animation over-top of the existing part. [Ryan] sees this as the next step in 3D printing for artists and makers because it can help give you a 3D preview of your part, for example if you’re not fully sure what scale you want it to print at, you could actually put a mating object, or your hand, behind the screen and visually see the interface!

[Thanks Spacedog!]


  1. Galane says:

    I want an AR star chart app for Android that overlays accurately positioned data onto the view from the camera so I can point the phone at the sky and have the actual stars, planets etc with labels.

    • papa says:

      Same for me, i’d like such an app ! “Pocket Planetarium”
      I think we all have a ton of ideas there and we shall share them on a common bloc-note, sometimes it may motivate who are bored the most to put hands on useful and interesting things.
      Projects-like without planning, just specs, features and ideas, free to pick-up for everyone. Sometimes you miss a design ’cause you lack the essential ideas that were not in your prerogatives.

    • b says:

      I think what you’re looking for is:

    • Pun says:

      Most cell phone cameras aren’t nearly sensitive enough to get a clear picture of the night sky. Even high-end cameras usually need a pretty long exposure to get a good shot of the stars. Google has an app (linked in the post above) that does a decent job using just the phone’s compass and accelerometer. It isn’t perfect, but it usually lines up pretty well.

  2. mixadj says:

    I just realized you can see the reflection from the projector on the glasses in the video outside of the lens. I wonder if that occurs with the human eye or if its just the sensor picking it up.

    • zuul says:

      you probably can see it if you’re eye is somewhere near the projector or behind it, the only problem though is that you’d either see one or both images at the same time, the glasses have polarized filters (i think that’s what they switched to)

      so you probably wouldn’t really get the 3d effect without the glasses

    • rocket_hat says:

      Yes. I got to see it in person. When you are standing behind someone wearing the glasses you can kinda see the image but without the 3D.

  3. repkid says:

    This is so awesome!

  4. Chris says:

    You can go even further than that and design in a “holographic environment”:

  5. MrX says:


    What if everybody now started naming triangles as squares, would that be correct? Please do D. Gabor a favor a use the proper terms. Thank you.

    • S says:

      Repeat after me: When the sage points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger.

      …gives you a holographic visual effect.

      After having seen quite a few true color real holograms and not experienced CastAR personally still, definitely the best way to describe what it does look like for anyone to understand intuitively is as an holographic like projection as shown in the movies. Even if strictly isn’t classic interference based holograms holography. Thank you.

      • Spacedog says:

        There are no plain words to describe the combination of stereographic 3D and accurate head tracking of computer generated images superimposed on the real world. a hologram is the closest thing in layman terms. but a hologram is a specific technology in itself. there ‘hologram-like’ is a good way of expressing it until they can come up with a catchy name for the effect.

        • Bryan says:

          I HAVE experienced it it in real life ( not the HD version , the SD version ) , and I can tell you that ” hologram like ” is a WEAK discription ….
          … I believe the experience will earn it’s OWN name … and soon … people will be saying that they experienced a ” CastAR – like ” image !

  6. peter says:

    While this is really neat, there is already a nice 3d preview on your monitor.

    • Spacedog says:

      The view on your monitor is not to scale to the real world (you can have a 19inch screen or a 52), this tech is cool because it can project the model to scale, onto the build platform, in 3D with 6DoF head tracking for full parallax perspective. it’s more a demonstration of the augmented reality technology than something restricted only to 3D printers. but this is hack a day right? geek out a little, enjoy it.

  7. Ken Clements says:

    Yes, it is not holographic, it just looks the same.

  8. Dennou Coil is coming, soon we will live in a half-virtual world.
    I cant wait :)

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