Thoughts on 3D Scanning

Thoughts on 3D Scanning

If you’re wondering why the market isn’t being flooded with cheap knock-off objects scanned by consumer grade scanners, it’s because the current state-of-the-art in consumer grade scanners isn’t very state-of-the-art.

Nice looking objects can be made. But technique and patience are required, and expectations need to be adjusted accordingly.

I hope to be doing a more in depth review of first-hand experiences and lessons learned from different experiments in scanning real world objects in the coming days and weeks.

Stay tuned.

Technology Services Nick Nack – A 3D Project

Technology Services Nick Nack – A 3D Project

Since we put our MakerBot Replicator 2 in our Oathout Technology Center, I’ve been itching to do a 3D project that I could repurpose for a number of different campus scenarios – teaching, design considerations, fit-n-finish, etc.

The project I decided upon was to take our Technology Services logo (seen below) in 2D, sketch it up, and make it into a 3D object thingy (wall hanging, coaster, knick knack, whatevs).

Technology Services Logo

Admittedly, I’m not the “go to” Photoshop / Design guy. I know enough to be able to do enough – given enough monkeys banging on keyboards and the lifetime of the universe to do it in.

That said, I ain’t skeered. So I jumped in.

I downloaded a copy of Sketch Up Pro, because I knew that that was what my colleagues on campus were using to design stuff. So far, so good.

Next, I knew at some point that I would be needing to convert my Sketch Up file from .skp format to .stl, for use in our printer. So, I googled around, and found this plug in and installed it into Sketch Up. Ok… what next?

I then opened a new project in Sketch Up. I won’t go into all the boring details – but in short order, I:

  • Imported an image of the Technology Services Logo
  • I traced all of the major sections of the logo
  • I colored my sections to match the color scheme of my original logo
  • I pulled the 2D design “up” to have height (about a half inch), and thus, 3D.
  • I sized the nick-nack to be about six inches across – about as big as our 3D printer build plate would allow.

I then sat back and admired my work:

Screenshot 2014-02-13 11.24.39
That’s a fine looking nick nack you’ve designed there.

Hold on, Hoss – you can’t go printing that as it is. Our printer will only print one color at a time (“Nice monochromatic puck you have there, Sport”). How can we make this work, Tim Gunn?

Ok. I obviously need to decompose like colored sections, into separate files, so I can build those all at once.

And so, I copied each section into its own separate sketchup space (below).

Screenshot 2014-02-13 11.23.00
The Black Pieces
The Orange Piece
The Orange Piece
The White Pieces
The White Pieces

We are almost there. But before going on, a short aside.

I built my original design in one file originally, to insure that my final build would have a tight fit-n-finish (i.e., all the pieces would fit together without falling apart). That’s the theory, anyways.

Ok. Moving on.

Now that I have three sets of pieces, I need to go into each file, and export the design from its native skp format to stl format, that I will later import into our MakerWare design package, in order to ready our design(s) to be printed. This is where that extension I mentioned above will be used.

Export to STL
Export to STL

I should note that when saving, you should save in mm (millimeters) not inches – otherwise, your design will look tee-tiny.

Elapsed time to design and get ready to build: three hours. Without using Sketch Up before. So, really. You can do this.

Once you save all of your files to STL, you’re ready to layout your design in your printer software (in our case, MakerWare – your mileage may vary), and see how long this sucker will take to print.

I’ll update our build process later. Watch this space!


Creative Collaboration at Hendrix: 3D Printing and OTC Makerspace

Hendrix College embraces creative collaboration through technology with a dedicated Makerspace and two MakerBot 3D printers.

From Nerdgasm to Nerd Rage to Bitter Nerd Acceptance

From Nerdgasm to Nerd Rage to Bitter Nerd Acceptance

Nerd RageI’m not easily excited about tech announcements.

I’ve seen enough promising “breakthroughs” over the years to know that every company press release, every gushy CEO chatting up their latest breakthrough product, every ostentatious fanboy peacocking their latest gear – has to be taken with a huge truckload of sodium chloride.

Still. I get caught up in hype like everyone else. Against my better judgement and disappointing past experiences.

This week I was geeked out about the announcement from Google that interop between Google+ Hangouts and h.323 endpoints is coming soon (from Vidyo) – at the low cost of $99 per port per month. Cloud based interop was promised at the reasonably low price of $149 per port per month (about half the cost of other SaaS interop services out there). The new product is called VidyoH2O (Hangout to Others).

Interoperability between h.323 (the tech that drives room size HD videoconferencing) and endpoint silos with mass audience appeal – Skype, FaceTime, Google+ Hangouts – can literally change the videoconferencing landscape overnight.

Being able to have a Google+ Hangout on the same call with room sized h.323 codecs promises opening boardrooms and classrooms up to affordable Internet-scale webinars, recording meetings to Youtube, and being able to hack together highly accessible and customizable virtual conference and teaching spaces.

Maybe not the Holy Grail. But a big freakin’ deal nonetheless.

I should have known better. My hopes were high. Until I spoke with a rep from Vidyo.

Yes – the $99 per port per month price is correct. BUT – the device that you have to have on premise has a five-port minimum. So, the price for interop is really $495 per month total, not $99. Disappointment one.

Yes – a cloud version is available – but it still requires a device somewhere in the mix, and there is still a five port minimum, turning $149 per port per month into $745 per month total. Disappointment deux.

And yes, there is an announced availability of March 31 for VidyoH2O – but the service / device isn’t even in Beta yet. Six weeks before shipping. And the thing isn’t in Beta.

Strike Three.

Look. Vidyo’s relationship to Google+ Hangouts is foundational, they have a solid track record, and I have no doubt that – ultimately – they will pull VidyoH2O off. Maybe even spectacularly.

But VidyoH2O isn’t “baked” yet. My long experience as a product manager tells me this announcement smells of “rushed to market.

My premature nerdgasm has deflated to nerd rage to bitter-but-wiser nerd acceptance.

Sadly, my exuberance has been stifled in the realization that the product seemingly isn’t ready, the pricing model is geared at a level out of reach for education and many small businesses… and it may be many more months before my dream of uber-simplified (and affordable) h.323-to-Google+ interoperability across my little liberal arts campus are realized.

In the large scheme of things, this isn’t even a thing.

Still. I’m surprised at how let down I am.

Serenity Now.


Goodbye, Tech Tuesdays. This won’t hurt a bit.

Goodbye, Tech Tuesdays. This won’t hurt a bit.

Old YellerAfter much (well, not muchsome) deliberation, I’m taking Tech Tuesdays to that very nice farm in the country, where it will have plenty of room to run free.

Tech Tuesday was meant to be a regular night to hang out, connect, and talk about the cool work you were doing.

Instead, it’s turned out to be just one more thing to do.

And – truth be told – I would rather channel my energies elsewhere. So there’s that.

Adieu, Tech Tuesday. You’re going to a much better place.