66% or better

Preserving locomotives with 3D laser scanning and 3D printing

loco

[Chris Thorpe] is a model railroading aficionado, and from his earliest memories he was infatuated with the narrow gauge locomotives that plied their odd steel tracks in northern Wales. Of course [Chris] went on to create model railroads, but kit manufacturers such as Airfix and Hornby didn’t take much interest in the small strange trains of the Ffestiniog railway.

The days where manufacturing plastic models meant paying tens of thousands of dollars in tooling for injection molds are slowly coming to an end thanks to 3D printing, so [Chris] thought it would be a great idea to create his own models of these small locomotives with 3D laser scanners and high quality 3D printers.

[Chris] started a kickstarter to fund a 3D laser scanning expedition to the workshop where the four oldest locomotives of the Ffestiniog railway were being reconditioned for their 150th anniversary. The 3D printed models he’s able to produce with his data have amazing quality; with a bit of paint and a few bits of brass, these models would fit right in to any model railway.

Even better than providing scale narrow gauge engines to model railway enthusiasts around the world is the fact that [Chris] has demonstrated the feasibility of using modern technology to recreate both famous and underappreciated technological relics in plastic for future generations. There’s a lot that can be done with a laser scanner in a railway or air museum or [Jay Leno]‘s garage, so we’d love to see more 3D printed models of engineering achievements make their way onto Kickstarter.

Signing your 3D prints

print

For all the 3D models out on the Internet, including the STL files on Thingiverse that are copied by other makers every day, there hasn’t been a good way to put your John Hancock on a three-dimensional piece of plastic you’ve designed. [Chris] has been thinking about the fact that an STL file released on the Internet is completely out of the creator’s hands for a while now, and he finally came up with a good solution to signing 3D prints.

[Chris] had been looking into ‘stamping’ a maker’s mark on the first few layers of a print, but this wasn’t always practical. Sometimes the bottom of a print needs to be a smooth surface, so [Chris] moved his initials up a few layers into the main body of the print.

By subtracting a 1.0 mm-thick version of his initials from the interior of a print, [Chris] is able to put his maker’s mark on the inside of a 3D object, visible only for a short time during the production process.

The signature isn’t impossible to remove, but it does give a little bit of credit to the original designer, all without some strange DRM scheme or metadata attached to an STL file.

You can check out [Chris]‘ printer laying down a few layers of his logo after the break.

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3D Printing Records

3D Printed Record

This is a working record created with a 3D printer. [Amanda] came up with a process that converts audio files into 3D models. These models can be printed and played on a standard record player.

The real work is done by a Processing sketch that creates a STL file. [Amanda] started off by trying to create a sine wave. She used this test to optimize the printing process. Then she used Python to extract audio data from WAV files and modified the processing script to process the data. After more tweaking, she was able to get a reasonable signal to noise ratio and minimize distortion.

The resulting records have a sample rate of 11 kHz and 5-6 bit resolution. The sound quality isn’t going to be the same as commercially pressed vinyl, but you can still make out the song.

Objet Connex 500 was used to print the records. This UV printer has a 600 dpi resolution, which is means it’s more accurate than extrusion printers. Your mileage may vary using different printers, but all of the Processing and Python code is available with the project write up.

After the break, watch [Amanda] spin some 3D printed records.

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Making 3D printing easy at the Staples copy center

easy

Mcor Technologies and Staples are teaming up to provide 3D printing services via the online Staples Office Center service.

This announcement comes from Mcor, the company behind the Iris 3D printer. Unlike just about every other 3D printer, the Iris doesn’t squirt plastic onto a bed or glue powder together – it makes its models out of sheets of paper. You probably won’t be ordering working steam engines or other heavy-duty engineering models from the Staples copy center, but this system does allow for high-quality full-color models to be created very, very easily. You can see a few examples of what the Mcor Iris can print after the break.

Unfortunately, unless you live in Belgium or The Netherlands, your local Staples won’t be installing a 3D printer in their copy center anytime soon. For those of us outside these countries, we’ll have to wait until services like Shapeways and Ponoko figure out how to make their business model include a brick and mortar presence.

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Let the 3d printing patent wars begin!

 

If you and your friends were gathering a pool of bets together as to when the first patent case would happen in 3d printing, someone just won the pot. 3D systems has filed suit against formlabs for possible patent infringement.

In a press release by 3D systems, they state that not only are they going after form labs, but also Kickstarter for selling the device.

Although Formlabs has publicly stated that certain patents have expired, 3D Systems believes the Form 1 3D printer infringes at least one of our patents, and we intend to enforce our patent rights

It is worth noting that the “cube” printer that Make magazine recently named the most reliable and easiest to use, happens to be made by 3D systems. Note that this one appears to be a typical rep-rap derivative.

[via Adafruit]

Turning video game sprites into 3D objects

Anyone who has played Minecraftfor a good amount of time should have a good grasp on making 3D objects by placing voxels block by block. A giant voxel art dragon behind your base is cool, but what about the math behind your block based artwork? [mikolalysenko] put together a tutorial for making 3D objects out of video game sprites and covers a lot of the math involved in turning pixels into voxels.

The process of modeling a 3D object from a series of 2D images is a very well-studied computer vision problem called multiview stereo reconstruction. This process has been used to build 3D models of random objects with devices such as the Stanford spherical gantry. Unfortunately the math for this algorithm is a mess, but there is another way: using photo hulls (PDF warning) to find the largest possible object from a series of images showing the top, bottom, left, right, front, and back views.

[mikolaly] put together an algorithm to produce 3D images from a series of images and even went so far as to build a web-based shape carving editor. With this web app, it’s possible to make 3D objects simply by inputting a bunch of colored pixels onto six 2D grids.

Once the models were complete, [mikolaly] sent some of the 3D models off to Shapeways for 3D printing. He’s completed Meat boy, Mario, and Link 3D sprites, all available for sale.

Now the only thing left to do is build a script to turn these objects into Minecraft object schematics.

Multicolor print head allows RepRap to print rainbows

Multicolor 3D printers have been around for a while, but most of these machines – like the Makerbot Replicator – suffer from alignment problems and the inability to mix colors on the fly. [RichRap] came up with an interesting solution to this problem by having three filament extruders feed into a single hot end, allowing him to change and mix colors on the fly.

To print in multiple colors, [RichRap] developed a three-extruder x carriage that sends colored filament to a single hot end. Unlike the Makerbot Replicator, [Rich]‘s extruder can mix and blend different colors into each layer of a print.

The electronics portion of the build, [RichRap] controlled the X, Y, and Z axes of his printer with a RAMPS board, but used a slightly modified Sanguinololu board for the extruder motors. A single motor driver for the extruders is connected to a trio of toggle switches, allowing [RichRap] to switch between filaments on the fly.

[Rich] has a very cool build on his hands, but it’s far from a perfect solution. Right now, any one of the three colors can be used to print, but printing with two or three colors simultaneously requires a change in the firmware. We expect someone to solve this problem in the near future, allowing the holy grail of a CMYK print head to come to fruition.

You can see a demo video of [RichRap]‘s tri-color print head after the break.

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