Wednesday, December 17, 2008

2008 End of the Year Wrap-Up

by Michael Raphael

Innovation has no map, no compass, no clock, and no finish line. In the late 1980s, 3D measurement technology was in its infancy. It was cumbersome, expensive, unreliable, and there were few options from which to choose. As an engineer at a large aerospace manufacturer, I saw an incredible need for new 3D tools for my work in design, manufacturing, and inspection.

By 1995, having helped develop a revolutionary new portable 3D measurement tool called the Faro Arm, I was inspired to start a company dedicated to the development, application, and proliferation of advanced 3D measurement technologies. More than a company, we created an environment which inspired innovation; a place where employees, customers, and vendors accepted hard challenges “because they could.”

Year after year we have been asked by our customers to push the limits of 3D technologies to solve increasingly complex problems for an increasingly broad spectrum of industries and applications.

Our business has essentially evolved into a working R&D lab, equipped with advanced equipment and funded by the services and products we provide to our customers. Everyday I am amazed by the diversity and depth of projects, applications, and customers.

As we continue to take on new challenges, new employees, and new equipment, we will continue to discover better ways to solve 3D problems. What was nearly impossible 10 years ago, and took months just a few years ago, we can now accomplish in a few hours. Our innovation and perseverance allows us now to introduce our new fast, affordable, and accurate 3D scanning and modeling service perfect for virtually all industries.

One such example is the new Surphaser spherical laser scanner from Basis Software. This scanner is as exciting to me as the Faro Arm was twenty years ago when it was conceived for industrial applications. As the only product with a mid-range focus, the Surphaser can capture objects from the size of cars to airplanes with the ease of use of the long range scanners and the accuracy and resolution of the close range systems. This scanner has become the solution to challenging problems we’ve faced for years.

Welcome to our new monthly newsletter where we will be highlighting our interesting 3D scanning and modeling projects and products. We hope that you will take a moment to review this information and provide feedback to us.

I encourage you to visit our website frequently as we update it daily. Nearly 14 years of innovation has allowed Direct Dimensions to provide you with the best 3D solutions.

Thanks for another great year!

Michael Raphael, President & Chief Engineer, Direct Dimensions, Inc.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Gort The Robot

It's not every day that DDI gets to digitize a celebrity. We've scanned Ray Lewis, Abraham Lincoln (well, sort of), and... Gort the Alien? If one of Earth's most famous extraterrestrial visitors doesn't merit a mention, I can't imagine what would.

Gort was first spotted in the 1951 science fiction classic, 'The Day the Earth Stood Still,' and remains to this day an iconic image of sci-fi lore. DDI scanned a small toy replica of Gort for replication using a Perceptron 3D laser mounted on a FARO Arm. The data was used to make a 'water-tight' digital model that can be used for prototyping and replication.

Um, so if an army of identical Gort aliens invade to mark the opening of today's remake, please don't tell anyone it's all our fault.

For more information on this project, check out Gort in the DDI project portfolio.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Preserve, Conserve, Restore

Lately, one of the buzzwords here at Direct Dimensions has been “preservation.” We've had our hands full with challenging and unique projects to conserve and replicate historical treasures. Last week, we worked on a project for the US National Park Service, and we also had a team of engineers on location at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

We believe that our innovative 3D technologies are perfectly suited to preservation applications not only because they are fast and highly accurate, but because they are also non-contact methods of acquiring data for posterity. Previous methods of preservation, such as making castings for replication, have required the application of wax or plaster and pressure that might cause damage to the often-antique item being restored. These methods are often expensive and require many hours of hand-finishing to create a reasonable facsimile. Using 3D laser scanning, DDI can collect that data quickly, and without any physical damage to the subject. Digital modeling can restore details which time and nature have eroded. More than just a close copy, DDI can also provide the data to make an exact replica in a wide selection of materials.

As we are committed to historical preservation, DDI has worked on many digital conservation projects over the years. We have scanned the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, as well as the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, architectural elements of the Maryland State House, and even the Liberty Bell itself. For more information on our efforts towards historical preservation, check out our project portfolio on art and architecture!


DDI in National Park Service's Journal of Heritage Stewardship

Direct Dimensions recently had the honor of being featured in the Summer 2008 issue of CRM: The Journal of Heritage Stewardship, published by the US National Park Service. The article was “The Restoration of Monumental Church in Richmond, VA,” which detailed the immense historical preservation project undertaken by the NPS and John Milner Associates, Inc. to return the landmark monument to its former glory.

Monumental Church, designed and built by American architect Robert Mills between 1812 and 1814, is one of our oldest and most distinctive churches, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as being a United States National Historic Landmark. It is, in part, a memorial to an earlier tragedy, marking a tragic theater fire that claimed 72 lives on December 26, 1811. As Mills was particularly concerned with fireproofing the new building, much of the site was designed in marble. However, the increase of atmospheric pollutants has corroded the marble, and by the turn of the 21st century, Monumental Church required restoration.

As part of this preservation process, Direct Dimensions was brought in to scan the church's signature marble funerary monument for replication. Using data acquired during the scan, a precise digital replica was created of the complete monument that could be exactly reproduced in marble using cutting edge computerized milling technology. This process was documented in the film Saving Grace- Resurrecting American History, which was written and directed by Emmy winning writer/director Eric Futterman.

For more on DDI's involvement in the Monumental Church restoration, visit our Featured Projects Page or the Historic Richmond Foundation's page on the project.