3D Scanning: Changing the World We Know

Flexibility. Throughout the entirety of the course, we have discussed how vital this mindset is to 3D making, and creating as a whole. Although it is easy to self-describe as agile and open to change, our group’s true flexibility was put to the test over the past two weeks as it became apparent that our original product and design were not viable for the purposes of this project. And thus, after weeks of brainstorming and continually redefining our version of a trash compactor, we scrapped the entire concept, and began to design a new take on a door prop (a product inspired by the auto-locking doors on our classroom, which have resulted in many lock-outs during class time.)

During the first portion of class, we were exposed to the capabilities of 3D scanning, as demonstrated by Arielle and Meshmixer software. This software proved extremely useful for duplicating and tweaking complex designs that would otherwise be difficult to recreate. As we began to consider the requirements of our particular product, we decided that we would not need to utilize this, as our product will have a simple, geometric design that will prove relatively simple to recreate from scratch. However, learning about this particular technology truly sparked my interest with regard to the real-world applications of such a product. Upon further research, I discovered that there are immense forensic implications of these developments, including a fascinating article about the use of 3D scanning technologies to examine a sunken vessel in British Columbia and determine the cause of the wreck.  Furthermore, Microsoft has begun developing a mobile application that will allow users to quickly scan and export images of items, the usages of which will range from functional business purposes to amateur artistic endeavors.

The real-world implications of being able to scan an item, create a digitized replica of it, and then alter that replica before printing it back into a 3D, physical representation are going to be widespread and life-changing. Throughout the course of the class, I have taken especial interest in the medical implications of the technologies we explore, and recently wrote an individual piece about recent medical advances in the realm of 3D printing. I believe that advanced 3D scanning abilities will further the abilities of doctors and other medical professionals in their research and solutions. This is just a small slice of the wide reaching implications;  I truly believe this technology will forever change the world we live in.

I’m Printin’ Myself – 3D Scanning

“I’m with some Maker lab people looking back at it.”

This week in class, we had the pleasure of having former 3D printing student, Arielle Rausin, give us a presentation of 3D scanning technologies. The whole process looked very interesting but also pretty challenging. In order to get a good scan, the scanner has to be held steadily and the person (or object) being scanned has to rotate slowly on an axis to ensure that every part gets scanned. After performing the scanning, Meshmixer was used to clean up the 3D scan by smoothing out surfaces or filling in holes.

3D scanning is a really neat technology that allows us to scan anything in real life and reproduce the exact same model in 3D print. Beyond that, 3D scanning also allows us to enhance the virtual world. Below is a really interesting video of 3D scanning a person and then turning them into an avatar in a video game. Here’s an article that talks more about this technology.

After learning about 3D scanning, we continued to work on our final projects in our individual groups. During the last session, we printed out the 3D material that will hold the Arduino for our Maker bot. This time, we worked on the outer portion of the bot which includes the face and body. In the end, we will be using plywood and laser cutting for those parts but for the sake of prototyping, we just used cardboard to make a rough model. The prototype turned out to be slightly bigger than expected so we learned that we should readjust our scale and make it more suitable in size.