A 3D(ollar) Scanner

scanner

Once you have a 3D printer, making copies of objects like a futuristic Xerox machine is the name of the game. There are, of course, 3D scanners available for hundreds of dollars, but [Joshua] wanted something a bit cheaper. He built his own 3D scanner for exactly $2.73 in parts, salvaging the rest from the parts bin at his local hackerspace.

[Josh]‘s scanner is pretty much just a lazy suzan (that’s where he spent the money), with a stepper motor drive. A beam of laser light shines on whatever object is placed on the lazy suzan, and a USB webcam feeds the data to a computer. The build is heavily influenced from this Instructables build, but [Josh] has a few tricks up his sleeve: this is the only laser/camera 3D scanner that can solve a point cloud with the camera in any vertical position. This potentially means algorithmic calibration, and having the copied and printed object come out the same size as the original. You can check out that code on the git.

Future improvements to [Josh]‘s 3D scanner include the ability to output point clouds and STLs, meaning anyone can go straight from scanning an object to slicing it for a 3D printer. That’s a lot of interesting software features for something that was basically pulled out of the trash.

Converting CTs and MRIs Into Printable Objects

skullPeople get CT and MRI scans every day, and when [Oliver] needed some medical diagnostic imaging done, he was sure to ask for the files so he could turn his skull into a printable 3D object.

[Oliver] is using three different pieces of software to turn the DICOM images he received from his radiologist into a proper 3D model. The first two, Seg3D and ImageVis3D, are developed by the University of Utah Center for Integrative Biomedical Computing. Seg3D stitches all of the 2D images from an MRI or CT scan into a proper 3D format. ImageVis3D allows [Oliver] to peel off layers of his flesh, allowing him to export a file of just his skull, or a section of his entire face. The third piece of software, MeshMixer, is just a mesh editor and could easily be replaced with MeshLab or Blender.

[Oliver] still has a lot of work to do on the model of his skull – cleaning up the meshes, removing his mandible, and possibly plugging the top of his spinal column if he would ever want to print a really, really awesome mug. All the data is there, though, ready for digital manipulation before sending it off to be printed.

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STL Fun: Converting Images To STL Geometry

stl image conversion

There’s been some good .STL manipulation tips in this week.

The first one is called stl_tools, and it’s a Python library to convert images or text to 3D-printable STL files. The examples shown are quite impressive, and it even does a top notch job of taking a 2D company logo into 3D! We can see this being quite handy if you need some quick 3D text, and either don’t use CAD, or really just need a one click solution. Now if only .STLs were easier to edit afterwards…

The second one is a Javascript based Leap Motion Controller STL manipulator, which lets you pick STLs and manipulate them individually with your fingers. If you happen to have a Leap, this could be a great way to show off 3D parts at a presentation or hackerspace talk, especially if you want to add a [Tony Stark] vibe to your presentation! Stick around after the break to see it in action — Now all we need are some good hologram generators…

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Yet Another RepRap Host looks pretty cool

Joining the pantheon of other RepRap host software packages such as ReplicatorG, RepSnapper, and Skeinforge is Yet Another RepRap Host, a project by [Arkadiusz] that combines a lot of neat features into a very cool package.

One thing we’ve really got to give [Arkadiusz] credit for is a virtual table that allows you to import several .STL files, place them on a virtual build platform, and print them all at once. Previously, the only way we knew how to do this was by either creating a single .STL file with all the desired parts already in place, or arraying several object to increase production. The virtual table feature allows anyone to bypass those steps and print out a lot of objects all at once.

YARRH also allows you to view the GCode in 3D. This feature is a little kludgy at the moment, but [Arkadiusz] says it’s functional and more than serviceable to run a 3D printer.

Right now, YARRH is only available for Windows, but a package for Ubuntu (and hopefully OS X) are coming down the pipe. You can check out some videos of YARRH in action after the break.

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3D printing from an Android device

[skullkey] over at the House4Hack hackerspace in Pretoria, South Africa wanted a way to get kids excited about technology and desktop fabrication labs. Wanting to give kids a visceral feel for the march of technology, he created Makerdroid, an android app that allows for the creation 3D objects on an Android tablet and preparing them to be printed on a Reprap or Makerbot.

What’s really interesting about this build is not only the fact that [skullkey] and his lovely beta testers are generating .STL files on an Android device, the object files are also being converted to GCode on the Android, without the need for a conventional computer. Makerdroid uses the very popular Skeinforge to generate the instructions for the printer (although a lot of people are switching over to Slic3r).

Makerdroid doesn’t need a PC to print objects out on a 3D printer, but we think the process of shuffling GCode files from a tablet to the printer with an SD card is a little archaic. It might be possible to print directly from an Android tablet over Bluetooth with the Android Bluetooth Reprap app that is currently in development. Still, we love the idea of printing objects we just created on a touch screen, as shown in the Makerdroid demo video after the break.

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Molded parts: Prusa Mendel in 30 minutes

This set of white RepRap parts were created in molds, instead of being printed by another RepRap. [Mark A. Ganter] of the University of Washington admits that this breaks the idea of a 3D printer that is self-replicating. But the molds – which were created by tweaking Prusa Mendel parts to be mold friendly – have the ability to produce every plastic part necessary to build your own RepRap and they can do it much faster. Once the molds were completed [Mark] and his students were able to produce a full set of parts in just 30 minutes, cutting as much as 14 hours off of the time it would have taken to print the parts. Still not convinced? How about this: the molds can be created by a 3D printer or by using a high-resolution power printing method like they have here.

The process starts by printing master parts, then creating a silicone RTV mold from them. Once the molds are ready, [Mark's] team pours polyurethane into them and waits for it to harden. They plan to share the STL files in less than a week so that you can make your own molds to use to build your RepRap army.

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