Last week in Digital Making, our class went to the Beckman Institute for Research. I’ve never wandered over to this part of campus, but it’s a very important part of our university. The building houses many offices and labs where grad students and professors partake in research.
There were two phases to our visit. We split into two groups and one group went to the fourth floor while the other went to the basement and we switched after 90 minutes. Both groups focused on the scanning of 3D objects that the lab uses.
The fourth floor had multiple dual-screen computers with high processing speed, most likely for using 3D scanning applications. The scanner on the fourth floor was slower compared to the scanners we used in the MakerLab. It starts out with calibration and then moves to 7 different iterations of the scan. The entire process took about 15-20 minutes.
Based off of my experience using the laser scanner, I wouldn’t recommend it. However, when listening to Travis explain how he uses the scanner and in what circumstances, I can understand what benefits it can offer. Even though it’s slow, it is relatively inexpensive and it can capture color as well as different surfaces. Travis gave the example that he tried using a more high-tech scanner to scan a tablet made of a certain stone that had a shiny surface. It turned out that the scanner could not see the surface of the object. Instead, he tried using the scanner upstairs and it worked perfectly. It seems like there are some scanners are more useful under special circumstances.
While upstairs, we looked at some 3D objects printed at Beckman. Some were very complex and could only be made using a 3D printer. Beckman also has access to different types of printing material other than the PLA filament that we’ve been using in the MakerLab. There was one object that felt dusty and another which resembled metal.
The learning continued when we moved to the basement to see Travis and the larger scanner. The room it was in was high-ceilinged in order to contain the scanner. We listened to Travis while he carried on the scan from the previous group. The scanner is able to take multiple pictures from a camera at multiple angles due to the movable platform which is then imported into Geomagic and aligned into a comprehensive representation of the object.
The scanner has some difficulty capturing objects that have a reflection, glare, or hole. Powdered spray is used to give the object a matte finish to make it easier for the scan to be completed. On the other hand, holes in the object are much harder and time consuming. It may take repeated scans from slightly different angles for the inside of the hole to be captured in the scan.
Overall, I learned a lot about scanning during our visit to Beckman. I’m looking forward to engaging in the Geomagic software next week.