Week 7 & 8 Reflection

The class began to learn a brand new 3D scanning technology during the lecture at Beckham Institute in week 7. For the first part of week 7 lecture, Mr. Travis Ross, a professional working in the institute, introduced a scanning program that can reserve an engineer to a CAD model.

One of my teammates came up with a racer glove. It is a customized wheelchair racing equipment. The main body was made of white plastic with a black leather handler. As the owner said that the original process can be time consuming, complicated, and expensive. It started from importing the raw material from Japan, then melting it to be flexible enough for modeling. Each individual has to hold melted plastic to shape it into a glove that perfectly matches. The following steps include adding an adjustable handler and sticky pad to the glove. In order to complete the entire process, it required expertise in the project and plenty of time.Moreover, it will cost the same amount of effort and inputs to produce every piece of glove.

If we figured out the way to use 3D scanning technology to make gloves, then it would significantly reduce the costs and inputs of the process. In addition, customers are able to order mass customization. The rest of the class was listening to a trainer in 3D scanning field giving lecture to the class.



During the week 8 lecture, the class welcomed Travis Ross to introduce Geomagic, a software for clean up the scanned models. Following his presentation, we began to select a new printable project with Geomagic, I probably need more time to get used to fix a scanned object with the software. By the way, thanks for the pizza.

Magic, Virtual Alma Maters, & More

Beckman Institute: Digital Scanning and Beyond

Two weeks ago, our class had the incredible privilege of visiting UIUC’s Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology to take a look at some of their high powered digital scanning devices. I had never been to the facility before and was astounded by the dense variety of research transpiring behind each room within the building, safely guarded by electronic key entry. After making this observation, I was very pleased to find that we would actually be granted entry to some of these areas! We first visited a room where we were able to see a smaller digital scanner at work. It was incredibly interesting to be able to see the different generations of technology and how digital scanning has evolved throughout time. One of the key aspects I’ve learned about making is that digital making is driving product innovation.

As we checked out a much larger digital scanner, I learned that this larger digital scanner had actually been the one used to scan our Alma MaterThis project was pretty incredible and inspired me to think about the creative uses of digital scanning. Because of the meticulous efforts of the Beckman Institute’s Visualization Laboratory, graduates in the years that the Alma Mater was absent were able to take photos in front of it with a 3D model of the Alma Mater in place of the real one! Pretty amazing application of this technology and I’m excited to learn about other interesting uses of it.

3D Model of Alma Mater Projected Over Base

3D Model of Alma Mater Projected Over Base

Oh Ho Ho It’s Magic! (Geomagic, that is)

Using Geomagic software was a very unique opportunity presented to our class that not many students have the chance to say they worked with. Granted the particular version of the software we used can cost upwards of $5000 (yikes!), it’s also very atypically used by beginning users because harnessing the power of the software to truly render objects correctly requires a decent amount of knowledge and expertise. After some great tutorials from our instructor, we saw that the software was actually very user-friendly and we were able to navigate it with some degree of ease. I say some, because some of us got a bit carried away with some of the sculpting tools and and hole creation features of the software. Put plainly, the file we uploaded went from a racing glove to a slice of swiss cheese attacked by a knife.

Anyhow, the rich aspects of the software that enabled users to powerfully render and modify 3D objects were very impressive. One of the most interesting characteristics I found of the software was its ability to parameterize different geometries of objects. From a mathematical perspective, the process of parameterization can become incredibly complex depending on the different curves and surfaces that are being transformed into mathematical functions. However, the huge benefit of parameterizing the object is that this enables the object to be used in other CAD softwares and easily manipulated due to the fact that the surface can now be described in exact dimensions/geometries. The process was fascinating to look at and I’m interested in investigating more as to what is possible through the parameterization of objects. For now, I will download interesting files like hedgehogs and use tools like the scuplting knife in Geomagic to turn an ordinary animal into something fun.


Week 7 & 8: 3D Scanning and Geomagic

On March 3rd we had a class at Beckman Institute, the place full of cool things one of which is an advanced 3D scanner. The class was divided in two groups, and I was in the group that first went to experience the huge 3D scanner. The class was led by an experienced professional, Travis, who explained us the history and other aspects of the 3D scanning. One of the cool things he mentioned was that he worked on a project where he had to scan Alma mater, so the graduates would have an opportunity to take a photo with it, while Alma was gone for reconstruction.


Moving forward, one of our classmates offered to scan her special equipment for wheelchair racing. This was actually a really good idea since the equipment had to be custom made and often time consuming and challenging and therefore the opportunity of replicating it with 3D scanning and printing seemed like a possible solution. Travis started scanning the equipment, but in the beginning the fidelity was not high enough. The reason for that is because the equipment had a rubber part on it and Travis had to spray it first to clean. After that the scanning process continued smoothly.


The next week Travis visited us at Maker lab and gave a tutorial on how to use the software called Geomagic. He started by showing us the equipment we scanned the week before. With the help of Geomagic he was able to clean the equipment and get it ready for printing. However, as an example for our tutorial he then used some clay made object, since it was less complex. We learned how to clean the model by trimming, mashing and cutting. Overall, I learned that Geomagic is a software that is basically used for getting the model ready for printing.

This experience showed me the opportunity to scan the objects with high fidelity and preparing it for printing. Being a business major, I right away started thinking about the opportunities for commercializing the things that can be done with 3D printing. Especially, since we scanned the equipment for racing that had a certain demand but no current efficient solutions.

Weeks 7 & 8: Scanning and Geomagic

The past two weeks we have been working with Travis, a researcher at the Beckman Center on learning how to use high-resolution 3D scanners.   The specific project my group used as an example was Arielle’s wheelchair racing glove. This was a great choice for showing the capabilities of what a 3d scanner could do. Her racing gloves were custom fit to her hand, and usually took hours to mold to fit perfectly, so it was awesome for her to copy them exactly using a scanner and print them out at the maker lab. Because of our visit, she now has a file of her favorite pair of racing gloves and can print them out again whenever she wants!

Wheelchair glove scan

Scanning Arielle’s Wheelchair Racing Glove

I had come to the class with something I wanted to scan as well, a rocky necklace I thought it would be really cool to try to scan and 3d print, since the geometry was pretty complicated and it would take a while to model if I wanted to start from scratch making it. This idea was not as successful as Arielle’s though. I knew printing out an exact copy of the necklace wouldn’t work because it would be too rigid for me to wear if I wanted to print it out again, but talking to Travis also made me realize using the platform scanner at Beckman would cause us to miss a whole side of the necklace-so that project was a no go. I might try scanning it in some way similar to the way we scanned our heads on the first day of class, by having someone hold the necklace in the air as I move around it and see how that turns out during one of our sessions in the next few weeks.

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Smithsonian X 3D Bee!

For week 7, we were back in the BIF maker lab again and Travis came in to teach us about cleaning up our 3d scans with a program called Geo-magic. Since I didn’t have any specific scan I made during my time at Beckman, Travis suggested I go on the Smithsonian X 3D site (here: http://3d.si.edu/), which had a bunch of 3D scans of things in the Smithsonian collections. I downloaded this huge 3D bee file (FYI: you don’t have to download the high resolution scans), which slowed down the computers in the lab a lot, but gave me a little taste of what Geomagic was all about. I’m definitely happy to have found a new resource for 3D files and looking forward to putting my new scanning skills to good use in the next few weeks

High accuracy 3d scanning

Last week we visited the Beckman Institute at the U of I. This institute has one of the best 3d scanners. A Steinbichler L3D. A powerful device! It works with a blue LED light and a single camera. You can either move the scanner around the object you are scanning, or place the object on a flexible platform that is connected to the scanner. The platform will then move as the scanner needs it. The scanner comes with his own software.

At first we thought we could scan multiple objects in one hour. But it turned out that this scanner needs his time. And the time of an expert who knows how to operate hard- and software.

Travis was the expert at Beckman. As the scan did not work out as he expected it, he decided to keep the item for another day we wanted him to scan.

The second scanner at Beckman was not that accurate as the Steinbichler. One can say, the scan was not successful. Take a look at the pictures below to get what I mean.


One week later, Travis visited us at the MakerLab. He finished the scan of our object. However, the raw scan data can not be used for CAD or 3D printing. Together with Travis we made our first steps in Geomagic. A software that is for preparing scan-data for CAD or 3d printing. In short: First we needed to clean the object. Eliminate noise. There are some automatic functions that could help a lot. Next we drew faces on the object. Finally, we tried to split the object into basic objects like circles or cylinders, to export them to a CAD software.

All in all, I think this software was a bit to powerful for us to learn in such a short time.

Week 7 + 8 – @BeckmanInst

This past week our class was generously offered a chance to visit the Beckman Institute to gain access to object scanners that can be used to create digital representations of physical objects. The generous offer did entail a relatively large fee but education is priceless! Though it better be considering the price-tag to attend Illinois… The workshop was really interesting but it was especially useful for me since I got the lucky side of the coin and was in the half of the class that got to check out the scanner first and got the most facetime with the technology.


Starting Off

Travis, the coordinator of the visualization lab at Beckman, kicked our session off by giving a brief history of the lab and some of the cool projects they work on, including the digitization of the Alma Mater. The scanner itself is a behemoth and only cost around $75,000, a steal according to Travis! After familiarizing ourself with the facifilities, we all collectively chose an object to try out. Arielle offered up her racing glove (a plastic glove meant for propelling a racing wheelchair) as the object to scan. On a side note, the plastic glove is custom made and extremely difficult to replicate for racers. Having a digital copy of a good glove means the ability for a user to create multiple copies using 3D printing! Our coordinator soon got things on its way by starting the scan. We were able to watch the object materialize digitally on a monitor and everything looked great. Travis on the other hand did not seem too happy with the process and soon announced he would have to shut it down.

Troubles and Troubleshooting

So there were some issues. It was soon explained to us that the scanner requires a near opaque object in order to have a high fidelity result. The scanner shoots out beams and the beams are meant to bounce off and return to the computer. An object that is even slightly translucent, like the racing glove, doesn’t allow for the lasers to bounce off correctly. Travis stopped the whole process and decided to start from scratch. Funny enough, the way to fix the problem with the translucent glove was to spray it with talcum powder. This would make the object completely opaque for the scan and easily be washed off. The scan began again and we were at square one. By the time we had to leave we had only finished one rotation of the glove on the scanner plate.

Fixed Up


Travis and Sebastian working on GeoMagic

Fast forward a week and now we’ve got the object to mess around with on GeoMagic. Pretty friggin sweet. Well not so sweet when I messed around with GeoMagic, but sweet to see what Travis, a seasoned veteran, was able to get done with it. The glove was beautifully fixed up and ready to be saved as a standard CAD file. Watching him play around with the $7,000 dollar software (that’s with a student discount, apparently) made me day dream about the kind of work the visualization lab at Beckman did on the Alma Mater. I’ll be attending EOH this Friday and will get a chance to see the digital version of Alma in all of her glory! As for my future use of scanning and GeoMagic? I may have to stick with the cheaper options..

Week 7 & 8: 3D Scanning at Beckman & Geomagic

During these two weeks we learned all about 3D scanning and an editing software called Geomagic. We had already done a bit of 3D scanning a few weeks ago when we made our busts, but this was a completely different process.

First off, Travis Ross, our tour guide and guest speaker led our session in Beckman and taught us how the basics of Geomagic. We split up into groups because of room size constraints in the lab with the 3D scanner we were working with. I was in the second round group.

I started on the 4th floor of Beckman and got to see a bunch of 3D printed objects using a variety of materials not used in the Maker Lab. We got to compare the materials and really see what other 3D printers could do. My personal favorite was the heart print.

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The heart looked so realistic and opened up my eyes to the capabilities of 3D printing.

I’m working on a project right now about medical uses for 3D printing, and this heart may come up again so look out for that post in the coming weeks.


During my time on the 4th floor, I also got to watch a small scale 3D laser scanner in action. It was extremely slow, but it gave us a good idea of the larger scale one we were going to see in the basement. Also, we were told that the smaller scanner could be more useful for certain scans do to limitation on the larger one. The main limitation was surface type. The larger scanner could not process shiny material very well, but the smaller one could.

Moving down to the basement where the main purpose for the trip was intended we got to hear all about the larger scanner. The main component to the scanning process was the platform that the object sits that is being scanned. It was on a rotating disk to reach all side angles, and was capable of tilting up or down to see any missing spots.

When I got down to the basement, there was an object already being worked on that I’m sure the owner (Arielle) will write about in her post. We ended up focusing on that scan the whole time I was in the basement. This is where we were first introduced to the editing software, Geomagic. Once the object was successfully scanned in at many different angles, Geomagic is used to cut out unwanted parts of the scan (like the table it rests on and any components holding the object into place). Side note: every individual scan that is taken must be edited, so the goal is to get the whole object in one scan.

After editing the unwanted parts of the scan, there were some holes that needed to be filled. Most of the time, the holes were minor and could me manually filled without any issues. But sometimes, depending on the object being scanned, there are areas that the scan cannot reach and must be estimated. Travis ran into this issue with the object he was scanning, so he attempted to rotate the platform to a specific angle to try to reach a bit more of the object.

The next time we saw Travis was in our home, the Maker Lab. During this time we were directly using Geomagic on the lab computers (also the main reason why I don’t have any pictures for you this week, sorry). Travis taught us how to trim or fill parts, how to smooth a surface, and how to divide the object into pieces for further editing. Surprising most of his instructions were pretty easy to follow and I was able to do a lot of the things he was showing us how to do. The hardest for me was the dividing up the object because I got a bit behind and missed a step and didn’t get a chance to catch up. But overall, I can say I know how to use some basic functions of Geomagic after this experience.

Again, stay tuned for more with the 3D heart! And apologies for the lack of pictures.

Beckman Center: High Power Scanning

These past few weeks, our classes have taken the opposite approach than what we have done for the rest of semester. Our coursework have focused on creating a physical manifestation of a digital object. With the help of the Beckman Center at UIUC, these past two weeks we have focused on turning a physical object into a digital file. This experience proved insightful, despite its limitations.

High Buy In

The first thing that I noticed about this hardware and its accompanying technology is the amount of power that the user can wield with these tools. As our guide was explaining how the hardware and software works, it became all too apparent how useful these scanning tools can be.

Quickly after I noticed how incredible the scanning apparatus we were using was, I realized how prohibitively expensive that it must be to use. I was correct. The suite we were using, hardware and software, cost upwards of $20,000. Needless to say, that price point is a little outside my casual use level. However, the more I pondered this sticking point, the more I realized how I could leverage this software.

Why I’m Here

I’m not an engineer. That ability is not in my wheelhouse. However, I understand the importance of this field. Chances are, in my career, I will be working with more than a few engineers. It is important that I learn how to communicate with these incredibly talented individuals. By working with the scanning software that is used in the industry, I am better informed and will be better able to assist the people that I work with by already understanding their own working conditions.

Also, working with this software caused me to think about the various economic applications of this technology. Perhaps, I will be able to create my own business concept around this technology. I still will need help to operate the scanner and software, but having this high level overview allows me to be able to think critically about using this technology in my own field.

Maker log weeks 7 and 8

I was sitting in the basement of the Beckman institute last week watching a lab technician hold a clay model. It was a cylinder or something. I looked at it, and I looked at my doodle book, and I looked at it again.

I realized there that I don’t need to be modeling my spaceships in Fusion 360. Which is a relief. Not because Fusion isn’t working for me. On the contrary, I’m having a blast designing my first spaceship. (See below)


But not all of my spaceships are going to be this “mechanical.” As I work on creating spaceships for my science fiction book, I want to not just build my human spaceships, but also the so-far unnamed antagonists spaceships.

Their ships are blobby and gross, not mechanical. And you can’t really make something blobby and gross in Fusion, but you can with clay – just ask my 1st grade art teacher!

These antagonists essentially cannibalize other spaceships. Combine them – pervert them – and use their weapons systems to fight the protagonists. The reason I haven’t named them yet is because all the good names are taken – scourge, horde, flood, you name it, it’s probably out there somewhere in some other science fiction work. If you have an idea, feel free to suggest it in the comment area.

Here’s a photo of their ships to get some ideas rolling.WP_20150312_003They’re very organic shapes, but with cannibalized mechanical parts. For comparison, here’s some of my drawn human designs:

WP_20150312_006After these two weeks, learning how to scan stuff, and also sort of learning how to touch up those scans, I’ve figured out how I’m going to make those antagonist ships. I’ll scan clay models, I’ll save the scan as an stl file, and then I’ll bring it into fusion and just merge new shapes into it.