3D Scanning and Project Progression

This week we returned to the MakerLab after a three-part tutorial series at the Champaign-Urbana Fab Lab. Before continuing work on our final semester projects, Arielle stopped by again and instructed us on how to effectively utilize a 3D scanner. This technology, she explained, helped her tremendously with making changes to the wheelchair glove that she has been making. Essentially, 3D scanners utilize lasers to scan every part of an object, which is then overlayed together by scanning software to create a 3D model. One software that was spotlighted during the workshop was yet another Autodesk product called Meshmixer, a relatively easy-to-use scanning software that allows the user to edit the scanned model before exporting the file to be 3D printed or added to other parts. Common types of editing include smoothing out certain areas of the model, extruding sides, or cropping unnecessary parts of the scan.

Arielle explaining one of the intricacies of Meshmixer as it pertains to her product:

After her presentation, we were allowed to try our own hand at 3D scanning using a mobile scanner. While Arielle made the process look painless, we quickly encountered a variety of challenges when attempting to scan our objects (our own heads). Firstly, the scanner struggled to pick up certain complex features of the face, such as specific details of the eyes and ears. Next, the scanner required very strong lighting, as the lasers it employed required light to bounce off the object, similar to a camera. This led to another hurdle; any users wearing dark clothing, such as a black jacket or shirt, struggled to obtain an accurate scan below their neckline. As with many obstacles faced throughout the course, over time and with much practice we were able to overcome these complications. Once scanned, we first cropped unnecessary features from the scan and solidified aspects of the object that were not properly scanned. From there, we imported the solidified 3D model busts into Cura to finalize before being printed.

An example of Peter’s bust after being exported into Cura:

For reference, here’s a simple and quick tutorial on Autodesk’s Meshmixer:

After taking a shot at 3D scanning, we returned to focus on our group projects. Our group, Team MakerLax, was able to create the initial model of our product using both Autodesk’s Fusion 360 and TinkerCAD. This first prototype certainly leaves much to be desired as there are a variety of adjustments to be made, however I am glad we were able to design a preliminary model. This way, we understand the direction that we are headed in and can add or subtract features accordingly. I look forward to adding a few more features to the product this upcoming week.

The initial prototype of our “Tie Helper”:

4 thoughts on “3D Scanning and Project Progression

  1. Hey Chase,

    I enjoyed the last class as well but was unable to 3D scan myself and 3D print myself. But i can imagine the challenges you faced using that technology for the first time. Hopefully we will be able to overcome those in time. I also liked the mesh mixer tutorial you included as well. I am not too familiar with what your project is but I look forward to seeing the final version “Tie Helper”

  2. Hi Chase,
    I really enjoyed reading your post. I like the part you described your experience when you use the 3D scanner. The bust you made from the 3D scanner is really authentic and detailed. In addition, I like your project idea. To my knowledge, there are a lot of college kids only learn how to tie on youtube before they go to interviews. The Tie Helper will save them time struggling with ties. I look forward to see the prototype in the class!

  3. Hi Chase,
    I thought the 3D scanning technology was super cool! Although I didn’t get to try it myself, I saw a lot of you guys scanning each other during class. And like you mentioned, it actually seemed challenging at times to get the scanner to pick up the entire object/body. I wonder if there’s a way to make it easier to use. Good luck with your project on the Tie Helper and I look forward to seeing the completed product!

  4. Hi Chase,

    I am interested in the “Tie Helper” since the first day your team presented the idea in the lecture. I mean the “Tie helper” could be extremely helpful to the persons like me who had a hard time making a tie. However, I do not know how the initial prototype could help people. It would be great if you can upload a short video next time explaining how to make the tie with the “Tie Helper”.


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