Rendering OpenSCAD in the browser

If you haven’t heard of it, OpenSCAD is a really wonderful tool for 3D modeling.  While it doesn’t have the traditional graphical interface of AutoCAD – it’s basically a programming language for 3D models – OpenSCAD is able to create very complex parts with only a few lines of code.

That’s all well and good, but what if you wanted to edit OpenSCAD parts in your browser? Enter OpenJsCAD, an OpenSCAD interpreter written entirely in Javascript and able to be embedded in a web page.

OpenSCAD allows for two types of modeling – constructive solid geometry, or taking 3D primitives and stretching, scaling, and intersecting them to create a 3D shape, or extrusion from a 2D outline. Quite a few RepRap parts were designed in OpenSCAD, and the lightweight interface and open source nature means it’s perfect for designing stuff to print on your Makerbot.

Tip ‘o the hat to [Gordon] for sending this one in, and we really have to commend him for writing his own online scriptable CAD exporter before finding out about OpenJsCAD. He may be a little late to the online OpenSCAD party, but we have to agree with him that an online 3D solid editor would be an awesome feature for Thingiverse to roll out.

Drag and drop images for 3D printing

This piece of software called OmNomNom works with OpenSCAD to turn 2D images into 3D models. It’s literally a drag-and-drop process that renders almost instantly.

Here the example is a QR code, which is perfect for the software since it’s a well-defined black and white outline in the source image. But the video after the break shows several other examples that don’t rely on this simplicity. For instance, the Superman logo, which uses four different colors, is converted quite easily. There’s also a depth map of [Beethoven's] bust that is converted into a 3D object. The same technique can be used to create terrain from topographic source images.

Once the file has been converted to a model it can still be tweaked like normal. This allows you to customize size and depth to suit your needs. This is where OpenSCD comes into play, but if you don’t use that program you can still export an STL file directly from OmNomNom for use on your 3D printer.

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Your face in chocolate

We think in might be absurdly vain, but wouldn’t it be fun to give everyone in your family a chocolate modeled after your mug this holiday season? [Eok.gnah] has already worked out a system to make this possible. It consists of three parts: scanning your head and building a 3D model from it, using that model to print a mold, and molding the chocolate itself.

He used 123D to scan his face. No mention of hardware but this face scanning rig would be perfect for it. He then cleaned up the input and used it to make a mold model by subtracting his face from a cube in OpenSCAD. That needs to be sliced into layers for the 3D printer, and he used the Slic3r program which has been gaining popularity. Finally the mold was printed and the face was cast with molten chocolate. We’d suggest using a random orbital sander (without sand paper) to vibrate the bottom of the mold. This would have helped to evacuate the bubble that messed up his nose.

You know, it doesn’t have to be your face. It could be another body part, even an internal one… like your brain!

Printing custom whistles for everyone at your RepRap conference

When [Josef Prusa] speaks at a conference extolling the virtues of 3D printing, he likes to give out printed objects to show off the possibilities home-brew fabrication. A favorite of [Prusa] are whistles – they’re functional and show off exactly what a 3D printer can do. Printing out hundreds of whistles is a job for a factory and not a printer, so [Prusa] decided to customize each whistle with the initials of a conference attendee.

When [Prusa] was asked to attend the INFOTRENDY conference in Bratislava, he had a small audience (only 150 people) and a list of all the attendees a week before hand. It was the perfect scenario to whip up a Python script to generate the models for a whistle with the initials of each attendee emblazoned on the side.

The WhistleGen code is up on [Prusa]‘s GitHub ready to print out custom whistles for your next conference. While the capabilities of WhistleGen are limited to just two letters of text, we’re sure someone will figure out a way to automate the generation custom conference badges very shortly.

See the example he sent us after the break.

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Multicolor 3D prints the hard way

After drooling over the Makerbot dual-head extruder, [Brett] decided to get off his duff and make a proper multi-color print.

[Brett] has been making a few bottle openers for friends and has been successfully experimenting with switching filaments in the middle of a print. For his “Saturday Killer” bottle opener, he decided to push multicolored prints to the limit. For the “Saturday Killer,” [Brett] decided to print an abridged version of the classic Simpsons quote, “Beer, the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems” on the side of a bottle opener in 4 different colors.

The files necessary to print the Saturday Killer were generated in OpenSCAD. The general principle behind the design is to generate separate .STL files for the bottle opener and the sides, split those files into 2-layer chunks, and print those files while constantly adjusting the z-height. It’s not called the Saturday Killer for nothing, so [Brett] had to change the color of his filament 25 times.

A much simpler version of a complex multi-color print is [Brett]‘s Shepard Fairey inspired self-portrait. Still, we’re thinking a dual head extruder is somewhere in [Brett]‘s future. At least he’s got the technique down.

onshouldersTV knows how to use OpenSCAD

Recently there’s been a increase in the popularity of OpenSCAD as the tool of choice in the 3d printing community. [Gavilan Steinman] is putting out a series of webTV shorts on the use of OpenSCAD. While it lacks a lot of the features of big CAD suits (such as the ability to generate drawings of your parts), the community has proven it’s effectiveness as a design tool. There are only two episodes out so far but they cover  OpenSCAD, mathcast, 3d printing, and a really neat robot design.  Watch them below.

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How To: Make a Printable CES Badge

We figured we put you through enough posts about our CES badges without telling you how we did it or how to get one. This how-to will walk through the process of creating a badge from a dxf file for a logo. Then we will tell you where to get one. [Read more...]