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”:

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.