One of the best applications for desktop 3D printing is the creation of one-off bespoke components. Most of the time a halfway decent pair of calipers and some patience is all it takes to model up whatever part you’re after, but occasionally things get complex enough that you might need a little help. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, salvation might be just a few marker scribbles away.
As [Mangy_Dog] explains in a recent video, he wanted to model a control panel for a laser cutter he’s been working on, but thought the shapes involved were a bit more than he wanted to figure out manually. So he decided to give photogrammetry a try. For the uninitiated, this process involves taking as many high-resolution images as possible of a given object from multiple angles, and letting the computer stitch that into a three dimensional model. He reasoned that if he had a 3D model of the laser’s existing front panel, it would be easy enough to 3D print some replacement parts for it.
That would be a neat enough trick on its own, but what we especially liked about this video was the tip that [Mangy_Dog] passed along about increasing visual complexity to improve the final results. Basically, the software is looking for identifiable surface details to piece together, so you can make things a bit easier for it by taking a few different colored markers and drawing all over the surface like a toddler. It might look crazy, but all those lines give the software some anchor points that help it sort out the nuances of the shape.
Unfortunately the markers ended up being a little more permanent than [Mangy_Dog] had hoped, and he eventually had to use acetone to get the stains off. Certainly something to keep in mind. But in the end, the 3D model generated was accurate enough that (after a bit of scaling) he was able to design a new panel that pops right on as if it was a factory component.
Using a 3D printer to make high quality parts is a great way to improve the look and appeal of any project. If you want to replicate something exactly, though, you’ll need either a very good set of calipers and a lot of time or a 3D scanner. Using the 3D scanner and the 3D printer go along very well together, especially if you use your 3D printer to build your 3D scanner too.
This project comes to us from [Vojislav] who spent the past two years perfecting this 3D scanner. Using a vast array of 3D printed parts, this build looks professional on every level. It also boasts a Raspberry Pi Zero and a fleet of camera modules, not to mention its own LED lighting. [Vojislav] has provided the printer files and the software needed to run it on the project page. It all runs through command line and python code, but that shouldn’t be a big hurdle.
While there is no video of it in action, it seems like all the parts are there for a solid 3D scanner, provided you have access to a 3D printer that can churn out the parts you’ll need. If you need something larger, there are some other options available as well that really take your photogrammetry skills to the next level.
This little machine spins objects 360° and triggers a Bluetooth remote tethered to an iPhone. In automatic mode, it capture anywhere from 2-200 pictures. There’s a mode for cinematic shots that shoots video of the object slowly spinning around, which makes anything look at least 35% more awesome. A third mode offers manual control of the turntable’s position and speed.
Our favorite part aside from the bearing is the picture-taking process itself. [Brian] couldn’t get the iPhone to play nice with HC-05 or -06 modules, so he’s got the horn of 9g servo tapping the shutter button on a Bluetooth remote. This beautiful beast is wide open, so fire up that printer. You can watch the design and build process of the turntable after the break.
There’s plenty of different methods to build a 3D scanner, with photogrammetry being a particularly accessible way to do it. This involves taking a series of photos from different angles to build up the geometry of the model. If you want to do this with something small, instead of a camera, just substitute a microscope! [NoseLace’s] LadyBug does just that.
It’s a 3D scanner built in a very hacker fashion. The X-Y stage that moves the sample is from a KES-400a Blu-Ray drive, salvged from the original “fat” Playstation 3. The Z axis is then created using the linear stepper motor from the optical pickup of the same drive. A rotary stepper motor is added on to the Z-axis to allow the sample to be rotated. It’s all combined with a basic USB microscope to take the images, and a Raspberry Pi which handles running all the stepper motors with some add-on driver boards.
In an era where we can see the current temperature with just a glance at our smartphones, the classic “Time and Temp” gadget sitting on the desk doesn’t have quite the same appeal. The modern weather fanatic demands more data, which is where this gorgeous full-day temperature display from [Richard] comes in.
The display, built inside of a picture frame, shows the temperature recorded for every hour of the day. If the LED next to the corresponding hour is lit that means the value displayed is from the current day, otherwise it’s a holdover from the previous day’s recordings. This not only makes sure all 24 LED displays have something to show, but gives you an idea of where the temperature might be trending for the rest of the day. Naturally there’s also a display of the instantaneous temperature (indoor and outdoor), plus [Richard] even threw in the current wind speed for good measure.
In the video after the break, [Richard] briefly walks us through the construction of his “Thermo Logger”, which reveals among other things that the beautiful panel art is nothing more exotic than a printed piece of A4 paper. The video also features a 3D model of the inside of the device which appears to have been created through photogrammetry; perhaps one of the coolest pieces of project documentation we’ve ever seen. We’ll just throw this out there: if you want to ensure that your latest build makes the front page of Hackaday, pop off that back panel and make some decent quality 3D scans.
Even a relatively low-end desktop 3D printer will have no problems running off custom enclosures or parts for your latest project, and for many, that’s more than worth the cost of admission. But if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to become proficient with necessary CAD tools, even a basic 3D printer is capable of producing complex gadgets and mechanisms which would be extremely time consuming or difficult to produce with traditional manufacturing techniques.
Once you find yourself at this stage of your 3D printing career, there’s something of a fork in the road. The most common path is to design parts which are printed and then assembled with glue or standard fasteners. This is certainly the easiest way forward, and lets you use printed parts in a way that’s very familiar. It can also be advantageous if you’re looking to meld your own printed parts with existing hardware.
The other option is to fully embrace the unique capabilities of 3D printing. Forget about nuts and bolts, and instead design assemblies which snap-fit together. Start using more organic shapes and curves. Understand that objects are no longer limited to simple solids, and can have their own complex internal geometries. Does a hinge really need to be two separate pieces linked with a pin, or could you achieve the desired action by capturing one printed part inside of another?
If you’re willing to take this path less traveled, you may one day find yourself creating designs such as this fully 3D printed turntable by Brian Brocken. Intended for photographing or 3D scanning small objects without breaking the bank, the design doesn’t use ball bearings, screws, or even glue. Every single component is printed and fits together with either friction or integrated locking features. This is a functional device that can be printed and put to use anywhere, at any time. You could print one of these on the International Space Station and not have to wait on an order from McMaster-Carr to finish it.
With such a clever design, I couldn’t help but take a closer look at how it works, how it prints, and perhaps even some ways it could be adapted or refined going forward.
Having picked out a particularly well-formed starfruit for his project, [Frank] didn’t want to spend an inordinately long time attempting to recreate the organic lumps and bumps in modelling software, Instead, Meshroom was used to create a model through photogrammetry. After several failed attempts, success was achieved by using a textured rotating table as a background, with the starfruit painted in matte grey and a final dusting of black speckle. This gave the software enough visual cues to accurately model the fruit’s geometry.
With a 3D model to hand, Fusion Slicer was then used to generate a model that could be constructed out of flat lasercut pieces. The cutting outlines were then generated and passed to Rhino for final tweaking. With everything ready, parts were cut out of plywood and a small mockup of a potential lamp design was created. [Frank] is currently workshopping the design with the inhabitants of the dining room, prior to the final build.