Monday, August 25, 2014

Case Study: MEP Facility Scanning

At Direct Dimensions we use many 3D laser scanning technologies for a wide range of applications. This case study illustrates how we used a spherical laser to capture and 3D model a complicated MEP space within an historic building for renovation into new modern living spaces.

The Backstory:
The current Provincial House of the Daughters of Charity was built in Emmitsburg in 1964 and was used to house the Sisters and headquarter various charitable efforts. But like other religious orders in the United States, the Daughters of Charity membership has dwindled and by 2009 the building was severely underutilized. Rather than let the building sit empty, the Sisters proposed a plan in which the unused space could be used to create affordable apartments and assisted living facilities for local senior citizens. While the structure itself was in excellent condition, the electrical and mechanical systems would have to be updated to accommodate the new facilities.

The Challenge:
To plan for the overhaul and installation of the new MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) systems for the historic facility, Whiting-Turner, the construction contractor, needed a fast and accurate 3D layout of the boiler room, and the various aged components and extensive piping. The traditional methods of hand tools, such as tape measures, distance meters, and sketch pads is time consuming, expensive, must all be done on-site, and prone to numerous errors. Whiting-Turner and The Daughters of Charity found an excellent solution with Direct Dimensions using long range laser scanners and advanced 3D software tools.

Just a small section of the antiquated MEP space which would need to be fully and accurately documented in 3D

Click here to learn about how Direct Dimensions solved this problem using 3D scanning and modeling.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

3D Scanning for Visual Effects

Some more of Direct Dimensions' 3D scanning and modeling is showing up on the big screen this weekend in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

Last year some of our team got to spend an extended summer break hanging out with (and 3D scanning) Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo, and even Shredder. In addition to scanning the actors/characters we also digitized several set pieces, some of which you can see in the above trailer.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Where Do Gnomes Come From?

While we can't speak to the genesis of all gnomes, this video case study shows how the Gnute the Gnome watering can went from a hand sculpted concept to your local garden store.



Monday, June 23, 2014

3D Scanning Helps Liars Make a Mess

While we do incredible things at Direct Dimensions every day, 3D scanning Liars band members Angus Andrew and Aaron Hemphill was the first time we've helped with any (literal) face melting.

The music video for the single Pro Anti Anti (directed by Yoonha Park) shows Andrew and Hemphill being scanned with an Artec handheld scanner, the modeling of 3D face scan data and the creation of a mold from that data. The mold is used to create replicas of Andrew and Hemphill's faces which are then melted down in the video. 

The video also features Direct Dimensions' own Glenn Woodburn doing the on-camera scanning.

See the video below and read more about it at

Liars: Pro Anti Anti


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

3D Scanning for the Movies: X-Men Days of Future Past

Direct Dimensions employees enjoy seeing their work onscreen

Summer blockbuster season has begun! Earlier in the month Amazing Spiderman 2 opened and last weekend we had the chance to see X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Last year we took a large team and several scanners and digitally documented RFK stadium in Washington DC for the pivotal battle in the new X-Men film. You can see just a snippet of the stadium at the 1 min 40 second mark in the above trailer.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

3D Scanning and Modeling for Archaeology

We have a talented group of employees at Direct Dimensions who regularly accomplish incredible things, not just at work but also in their personal time: publishing books, creating art, volunteering for important causes, climbing mountains, making music, and even designing a RPG.

Heritage Scanning Specialist Joe Nicoli is no exception. He recently spent time researching and co-authoring an article entitled "Exploring 3D modeling, fingerprint extraction, and other scanning applications for ancient clay oil lamps." It was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage. Congratulations Joe!

Article Abstract:
Ancient clay oil lamps provide an invaluable source of information for archaeologists as indicators of ritual, chronology, clientele, trade, and origin. Since the late seventeenth century, they have been drawn, painted, and photographed for antiquarian and scientific publications. The purpose of this paper is to explore various applications of 2D and 3D digital modeling and laser scanning of ancient clay lamps using the Steiblicher Comet L3D Blue Scanner. It encourages widespread adoption of this method for the creation of highly accurate archaeological illustrations, 3D lamp typologies, 2D and 3D lamp documents, and museum quality reproductions. Most notably, this study confirms laser scanning as an effective method for extracting fingerprints from lamp surfaces to make possible the identification of ancient lampmakers. Order and read the full article here.


Monday, May 26, 2014

In Memoriam: The Battlefield Cross

The tradition of using a rifle, boots and helmet (also known as the Battlefield Cross) to mark a fallen soldier's grave began during the American Civil War, perhaps as a replacement for a burial cross on the battlefield. Today it is used as a sign of respect to soldiers who have fallen.

A few years ago we had the opportunity to help create a memorial for Fallen Soldiers. We'd like to share some images of that special project in honor of Memorial Day.



Friday, May 2, 2014

3D Scanning for the Movies: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Guess who 3D scanned Times Square to help create special effects for the new Spider-Man movie?

While we've had the opportunity to work on some pretty awesome films (MIB3, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), this production afforded the opportunity for one of the largest and most exciting location scans we've yet done. To help create a major action sequence for the film multiple crews from Direct Dimensions digitally documented all of Times Square.

Oh yeah, we also got to 3D scan Peter, Gwen, and Electro. We'll definitely be at the movies this weekend, excited to see our digital data turned into incredible special effects in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day: 3D Scanner Style

Earth day calls to mind adorable children participating in recycling drives and tree planting ceremonies, spending time in nature, and using 3D scanners to help companies create sustainable products!

Well, at least at Direct Dimensions it brings a reminder of two very cool projects where we utilized 3D scanning technology to help companies create new and exciting products out of recycled materials

Creating the Emeco/Coca Cola Navy Chair

Famed company Emeco teamed with Coca Cola to create a version of their classic Navy Chair out of recycled plastic Coke bottles. 

Recreating the Navy Chair in a new medium presented an engineering puzzle that was best solved using 3D technology. The original version of the chair is carefully handmade in a complicated 77 step process. Each chair, while essentially alike, is handcrafted by artisans with years of experience welding and surface finishing the aluminum. The new 111 Chair would need to retain the exact, iconic look of the original but would have to use a standard injection molding process to work with the recycled Coca Cola material.  The solution (of course) was to 3D scan and model it. Read the full story of how we 3D scanned the Navy Chair.

Helping to Create Green Consumer Goods
To satisfy the changing demands of  consumers, the team at Robinson Home Goods decided to launch a new line of kitchen products called Green Street. The products would be manufactured from material created out of recycled water bottles and packaged in recycled and compost-able materials. The designers even planned on re-using existing injection molds for the prototype phase.

They loved the overall shape of the existing spatulas and spoons but wanted something a little more indicative of the green nature of the product. The design team decided to redesign the slots in the spoon to look more like tree branches. The problem was that they only had old 2D drawings of their existing molds, making a modern CAD redesign almost impossible. They needed to find a way to accurately and quickly reverse engineer the existing injection molds into SolidWorks to facilitate the redesign process. Direct Dimensions stepped in with our 3D scanners and expert modelers to reverse engineer new CAD models of the molds. Read the full story here.

Happy Earth Day from Direct Dimensions!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Case Study: Creating Lifelike Robots


For several years Direct Dimensions has enjoyed working with David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics and a pioneer in the field of human-like robotics. Dr. Hanson is considered a leader in the field of social robotics since his robots are created to engage humans socially through conversation and facial movements.

The collaboration with Hanson began almost a decade ago, when Direct Dimensions joined a team working on the Phillip K. Dick robot. The Philip K. Dick android represents the first human-emulating robot complete with artificial intelligence, lifelike facial expressions, and even a human voice. The android not only possesses a human-like physiognomy, it also has the ability to recognize people.

One of the problems in creating a life-like face is fitting the outer shell (in other words, the androids face) to the various internal electronic components. Dr. Hanson wanted to use a 3D computer model to virtually fit these electronics inside. The CAD model would also be used to fabricate the production skull using rapid prototyping.

Find out how Direct Dimensions solved this 3D problem