Thursday, December 31, 2009

3D Scanning Newsletter - December

December's newsletter has been sent out and is also posted on our website.

Articles this month include:

How 3D Imaging is Changing the World: The last decade has seen some amazing advances in 3D imaging technologies, from the introduction of light weight, hand held systems to new advances in large scale scanners. With the technology evolving rapidly, we talked to our President and founder, Michael Raphael, about the current state of the industry and what innovations we can expect to see in the coming years.

VA Medical Center BIM: When Clark Constuction needed to include an existing building into a BIM (Building Information Model) they were creating, they turned to Direct Dimensions to help save time and money.

Football Player Digital Double: When tasked with creating a commercial for the AFL, Eye Candy, a commercial editing firm in DC, decided to use 3D animations based on a real person. Our team utilized many different scanning technologies and software to create a realistic digital double.


Monday, December 28, 2009

3D Scanning an Historic Sculpture

This month saw the completion of major project that began, for us, in 2007.

The Genius of Connecticut bronze sculpture, standing eighteen feet tall, started its life perched at the top of the statehouse in Hartford in 1876. It was damaged in a hurricane in 1938 and subsequently placed in a storage facility, where it stayed until 1942 when it was melted down for the war effort. All that was left of the sculpture was a full size plaster model which was later coated in bronze and displayed in the lobby.

In 2005 the Connecticut State Legislature decided to recreate the original Genius of Connecticut sculpture in bronze and place it back atop the Capitol Building.

Direct Dimensions was brought in to 3D laser scan the eighteen foot sculpture in 2007. A 3D model was created from the scans and the model was used by Polich Tallix foundry to create a new bronze sculpture using traditional casting techniques.

Earlier this month, the completed bronze recreation was installed in its temporary home in the Capitol lobby. Check out the video below for footage of the sculpture being installed.


Monday, December 21, 2009

ShapeShot wins "Best Pitch" Award at First Maryland TechCrawl

On December 16th, the Emerging Technology Center (ETC) of Baltimore held the first Maryland TechCrawl.

According to the ETC, "At the first Maryland TechCrawl, 21 local technology companies presented their products or services. The event drew people from the Baltimore - Washington, D.C. region, bringing startup companies, investors, executives, community connectors and local media together to forge partnerships, increase visibility and showcase the new technologies."

Direct Dimensions took the opportunity to present our new ShapeShot technology. It was a wonderful chance to get some feedback and refine our message.

The event also included a pitch competition where each of the 21 companies had 60 seconds to deliver their best product pitch/demo. At the end of the evening the ETC's board of directors chose the best pitch. We were honored to have ShapeShot chosen as the winning pitch.

It was a great event and we are looking forward to next year!

You can read more about the event here.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Case Study: Reverse Engineering WWII Jeep Frame

Recently, Direct Dimensions had the unique opportunity to scan a 1940’s Bantam Jeep underframe. The Bantam BRC-40, alongside models like the Willys MA and the Ford GP, were among the first Jeeps produced by the U.S. Army. Due to their extensive use in WWII, they quickly became iconic of the war and of the era in general.

This particular Bantam frame, provided by client Todd Paisley, posed a challenging 3D problem, as it had rusted and corroded to the point where it was no longer usable. Direct Dimensions was brought in to reverse engineer the component in order to produce a digital model upon which new underframes could be manufactured.

DDI engineers Michael Lent and John Kelbel completed the scan in one day using a 12’ Platinum FARO Arm paired with the Laser Design SLP 2000 laser line scanner. The SLP 2000 proved ideal for this challenge, as its dual cameras and wide laser range reduce scanning passes, saving time while still ensuring high accuracy.

According to John Kelbel, the heavily warped underframe was scanned in sections from two separate positions, both from the front of the frame and from the back. These scans were then digitally combined using Rapidform software. Using Rapidform XOR software, the data taken from the scan was reverse engineered to produce a CAD model of the original ‘design-intent’ of this part suitable for manufacturing. The final deliverable allows the production of components based upon the historic Bantam underframe for several generations of Jeeps to come.

You can see additional documentation on the Jeep Reverse Engineering Project, including an interactive 3D model on our website.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

3D Scanning Newsletter - November

November's newsletter has been sent out and is also posted on our website.

Case studies this month include:

Reproducing a Rare Darwin Bust - In honor of the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species and 200th anniverary of his birth, the National Academy of Sciences commissioned a replication of a one-of-a-kind bronze Darwin bust.

3D Imaging Brings Robots to Life - 3D laser imaging technology helps rapidly create a digital CAD model of hand-sculpted robotic components for Hanson Robotics.

Monkey Skull Sculptures - 3D scanning of primate skulls helps artist create sculpture series

Click here to read the full newsletter.

If you have not subscribed to our newsletter yet, you can subscribe here.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful in 2009

Despite the economic challenges of this past year, Direct Dimensions has been fortunate to have had a very successful 2009 – our 15th year in business! In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, we would like to express our thanks to:

Our great customers - thank you for entrusting us with your ships, your sculptures, and your airplanes and everything else you send to us, or send our team out to scan for you, including Northrop Grumman, Jeff Koons Studios, Carlson & Co, Lockheed Martin, FBI, Clark Construction, Harley Davidson, Nurad, International Truck, John Milner Associates, National Gallery of Art, Praxair, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and all of our other new and returning customers!

Our great vendors - thank you for providing us with top-notch 3D products and for all of your support including Basis Software, Dimensional Imaging, FARO Technologies, Geomagic, Innovmetric, Konica Minolta, Kreon, Laser Design, Pointools, Rapidform, Verisurf, and Vialux.

Our great employees - thank you for all of your creativity, initiative, dedicated long hours, last minute travel, and all of your hard work everyday. It is very much appreciated.

Our employee’s families - thank you for sharing your loved ones with us, probably more than you’d prefer.

Our friends and partners at SME, CMSC, SPAR, GBTC, ARC, Trilumen, and especially Mimic Studios, practically our L.A. office.

And a special thank you to Gene Roe for supporting us so often in his blog. Gene puts out a fantastic blog about the 3D scanning industry called Lidar News at which everyone should check out.

And thank you all for reading our monthly newsletters and regular blog postings, and please have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Digitally Preserved and Reconstructed Coffeehouse Now Complete!

This Friday, November 20th is the grand opening celebration for the newly reconstructed Charlton's Coffee House in Colonial Williamsburg. It is the only structure of its kind, an authentic 18th-century coffeehouse, in the United States.

You can read about the events planned for opening day here.

Direct Dimensions was lucky to be involved as part of the pre-construction team, utilizing our 3D technologies to help document the coffeehouse's 18th century foundation.

To learn more about how, keep reading.

Case Study: Digital Preservation of Revolutionary Coffeehouse
In the summer of 2008, Direct Dimensions visited Williamsburg, Virginia to document the condition of the existing remains of an original ‘coffee house’ that George Washington was known to frequent.

This particular coffee house, owned by Richard Charlton during the 1760's, was one of several that had flourished in the area due to their popularity in London and abroad. Coffee houses of that time were known for more than their coffee, tea, and chocolate served to the colonials - they also hosted informal and spirited intellectual conversation. This activity made Charlton's coffee house one of Williamsburg's political and business ‘hotspots’ of the time.

DDI worked with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to laser capture what remains of the coffee house’s stone foundation. Of the original structure, only part of the brick foundation and some wooden fragments are still intact. We scanned the exposed foundation and the earthen floor with our Surphaser HSX spherical scanner.

This unique scanner captures extremely accurate and high resolution data over a medium-range (2-10 meters). The Surphaser is a non-contact laser scanner so none of the delicate centuries-old foundation was harmed during the data capture process.

The raw 3D ‘point cloud’ data gathered in Williamsburg was then digitally modeled back at the Direct Dimensions facility in Baltimore, Maryland. The final surface mesh model can be used to analyze the archaeological features found at the site.

Additional digital preservation projects:
Historic Site Scanning
Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers


Friday, November 13, 2009

Software Overview and Tips for Dense Point Cloud Processing

Last month we posted a presentation that Michael gave at SME's Aerospace Measurement, Inspection & Analysis Conference on Reverse Engineering Airplane OMLs. One of the issues that often comes with large scan jobs, such as airplane scans, is how to handle massive amounts of 3D scan data.

At that same conference Michael and Peter Kennedy, our production manager and a specialist in processing data from large jobs, also gave a presentation on tips and software for dealing with dense point cloud data sets. You can view the presentation below.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We're happy to help!


Friday, November 6, 2009

TEDx MidAtlantic 2009

We had a wonderful experience at TEDx MidAtlantic, meeting and talking to new people, exchanging ideas with them, and of course, imaging them in 3D with our new face imaging concept.

All of the speakers were thought-provoking, but we really connected with the presentation by the first ever CTO for the Federal government - Aneesh Chopra. Mr. Chopra spoke primarily about utilizing technology to improve peoples lives, particularly through medical technology and innovation. He even briefly talked about facial prosthetics which is a topic that has always been very important to us at Direct Dimensions.

Also, if you had a ShapeShotTM 3D face image taken at the event, you will be receiving an email shortly with a link to your very own personal website with your 3D face.

It was really a special day. Thanks to Dave Troy and all the TEDx MidAtlantic volunteers for making it all happen.

Direct Dimensions' President Michael Raphael poses two attendees for their ShapeShot


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

3D Model of Lincoln's face included in "Lincoln, Life-Size"

Last summer we had the opportunity to scan an amazing piece of history: an original life mask of Abraham Lincoln cast in 1860 by Leonard Volk. The life mask is owned by the Kunhardt family, who are 5th generation Lincoln scholars, and was scanned for research purposes for a documentary they were making. You can read about the original Lincoln lifemask project here.

High quality renderings of the digital model made for the documentary have subsequently been used by Philip B. Kunhardt and Peter W. Kunhardt in their book Lincoln, Life-Size.

The book examines images of Lincoln's face, each page containing various portraits at life size. As the owners of one of the largest 19th century photo collections, the authors have a specific interest in comparing how Lincoln’s actual appearance fares against artistic renderings of the man, as well as the often-distorted daguerreotypes and photographic media of the mid-1800s.

Lincoln, Life-Size is being released today and can be purchased online or at a bookseller near you. If you want to see some incredible images, photographic and digital renderings, make sure to check out this book.

Additional 3D Lincoln reading:

Lincoln Memorial: Digitally Preserving America's National Monuments

Bringing Lincoln To Life in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian


Saturday, October 31, 2009

3D Scanning Newsletter - October

October's newsletter has been sent out and is also posted on our website. This month we have some great case studies about scanning for documentation and visualization as well as some Halloween treats.

Case studies this month include:

Documenting Ancient Sculptures - Direct Dimensions traveled to University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology to document sculptures from their Ancient Egyptian Collection.

Archival Scan of Meteorite - The digital modeling team at Direct Dimensions 3D laser scanned the largest "oriented pallasite" meteorite ever found for archival and visualization purposes.

High-Res Human Skeleton - 3D imaging of a human skeleton helps a renowned medical illustrator create more accurate medical illustrations.

Click here to read the full newsletter.

If you have not subscribed to our newsletter yet, you can subscribe here.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trick or Treat! Free 3D Model for Halloween

To provide our customers with a better understanding of our various model outputs, we have made sample downloadable models available on our website for a while. This year we decided it would be a fun treat to offer a Halloween model for your enjoyment.

Visit our Model Example Page to download our Skull Mask Model in various formats. Feel free to download the other example models too.

If you feel like showing us, we would love to know what you did with your model.

We're also planning on making more free sample models available in the future, so let us know what sort of models you would like to see.
Happy Halloween!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

3D Scanning Methods & Equipment for Reverse Engineering Airplane OMLs

In case you weren't able to make it to SME's Aerospace Measurement, Inspection & Analysis Conference in Baltimore last month to hear Michael Raphael's presentation "3D Scanning Methods and Equipment for Reverse Engineering Airplane OMLS," we've posted it below for you to view:

Michael and Pete Kennedy, our production manager, also co-presented on software and tips for Dense Point Cloud processing at the same conference. We'll post that soon, so stay tuned!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Facility Tour with the Upper Falls Retired Activities Club

If you've talked to anyone at Direct Dimensions then you know that we are very excited about what we do and love to share stories about our latest technologies, capabilities, or projects with anyone that is interested in hearing about them. Over the years that has led to some wonderful guests and facility tours with everyone from artists associations to historic preservation groups to mechanical engineering groups, and many tours for college and high school classes.

A few weeks ago we had a wonderful tour group in to visit with us and we want to share that experience with you now.

The Upper Falls Retired Activities Club (UFRAC) started in the 1980’s when a group of recently retired gentlemen would get together periodically to hike or canoe. Eventually some women joined the club and the activities became more varied, including lunches and tours. The club is a diverse group from different backgrounds and different Maryland towns.

On selected Thursdays of the year they all get together to enjoy each others company and learn about a variety of things. UFRAC has toured Under Armour's headquarters in downtown Baltimore, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and most recently a prosthetics limb fabrication lab.

Back in 2006, Peg Walters, a UFRAC member, read a newspaper article that mentioned Direct Dimensions’ 3D scan of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. She clipped it out thinking it might be an interesting tour. Unfortunately daily life and scheduling got in the way for a while, but she finally contact us and scheduled the tour date.

Last month on September 24th, a group of about 25 UFRAC retirees visited Direct Dimensions and quickly became quite excited to hear about our many interesting projects and see our various 3D scanning and imaging technologies. Our founder and president Michael Raphael provided a thorough overview of the ways in which 3D imaging can be utilized for capturing real world objects into 3D digital forms for medical applications, museum art & sculpture, architecture, and various industrial applications.

While most of the retirees only casually use computers, it was surprisingly refreshing to hear their comments suggesting a good understanding of how these technologies work and why we perform these projects. As members of a demographic who are supposedly reluctant to embrace cutting edge technologies, we were really interested in how they would react to what we showed them.

We are happy to say that they loved the tour. In fact many even said it was the best tour they’d been on. And since many of us here at DDI are familiar with how amazing NASA Goddard is – that means a lot to us! More than enjoying the tour, the UFRAC group seemed to really “get” what we do and how it can be so beneficial in everything from scanning the famous Liberty Bell to measuring some greasy industrial gear.

The tour concluded with the attendees each getting their faces imaged in 3D with our fantastic new camera-based imaging system. We were particularly interested in seeing their reactions to this new and very exciting technology for reasons we’ll discuss in future postings – so stay tuned.

It was a great morning and we loved hosting them!

If you know of any groups that might be interested in touring Direct Dimensions, feel free to contact us at


Friday, September 25, 2009

DI3D Open House October 1st in Los Angeles!

If you have an interest in face scanning and are going to be in the LA area October 1st, we encourage you to attend our DI3D and DI4D open house. Please call us at 410-998-0880 or email for additional information.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

3D Scanning and Modeling Processes for Reverse Engineering Airplane OMLs

In addition to a presentation on working with large sets of scan data, Michael Raphael will also be giving a talk on 3D scanning and modeling Airplane OMLs. If you are in the area, make sure to catch this presentation Wednesday afternoon (September 30).

3D Scanning and Modeling Processes for Reverse Engineering Airplane OMLs

Michael Raphael, Direct Dimensions
There are many reasons why firms need to model the exterior contour of existing aircraft OMLs (Outer Mold Lines). Most aircraft flying today were not designed in a modern 3D CAD program. Even with a current 3D digital design, the actual as-built contour deviates from the intended shape, at least at some level.

A wide variety of 3D measurement technologies and modeling software tools have been used for nearly 15 years to accurately capture and model these shapes for many different applications and purposes. This presentation will focus on the evolution of 3D scanning methods and processes through many examples, with emphasis on practical application, costs, schedules, deliverables, etc.

Having real-world customers who demand higher quality and lower price over time for this application, Direct Dimensions has continually searched for the best tools and methods for performing these projects. This experience and perspective will be freely shared with the audience in order to develop an appreciation for the selection of such tools for these projects.

For a full schedule of presentations click here.


Aerospace Measurement, Inspection & Analysis Conference Presentation

As we mentioned previously, Direct Dimensions will be presenting twice at the Aerospace Measurement, Inspection & Analysis Conference.

The first presentation will take place Wednesday, September 30 and will talk about tips for processing massive data sets. See below for a description of the presentation:

Dense 3D Scan Point Cloud Processing Software Review
Michael Raphael, Direct Dimensions
With the advent of higher powered 3D scanners comes the challenge of dealing with the dense point cloud data sets. Direct Dimensions uses a wide variety of 3D scanning equipment to capture the as-built shape of existing objects. The common problem with all of these projects is the need to process the point cloud data. While applications fall generally into either reverse engineering and inspection, both directions present challenges for processing the large data sets efficiently, quickly, and properly. This presentation will focus on an overview of the software tools available commercially that address these problems with a comparison of the various workflows, strategies, and results that one can expect from the various solutions.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Mark Your Calendars!

We are reaching out to regional aerospace related companies with an opportunity that we believe you should strongly consider. September 29 to October 01, 2009 the Aerospace Measurement, Inspection & Analysis conference, presented by SME is being held right here in Baltimore alongside the Aero & Defense TEST 2009 show. We attended Aero & Defense TEST in Ft. Worth last year and it was a great experience. We are thrilled that it is being held in Baltimore this year, a very convenient location for us and many of our customers.

This year Aero & Defense TEST is being held in conjunction with the Aerospace Measurement, Inspection & Analysis conference; three days of technical presentations geared specifically to inspection and reverse engineering solutions in the aerospace industry.

Direct Dimensions will be giving two presentations: Dense 3D Point Cloud Processing Solutions and Reverse Engineering Airplane OMLs but there will also be presentations on automating the inspection process, additional reverse engineering case studies, ultrasonic composite inspections and more. Presenters are industry experts that are using this technology everyday and come from Northrop Grumman, NASA Goddard, Boeing, and National Institute for Aviation Research, just to name a few (you can see the full presentation schedule here ).

We found that Aero & Defense TEST was well worth our time last year and now that they pairing up with the Aerospace Measurement, Inspection & Analysis conference, we consider it a “can’t miss”. Especially if you are in the Mid-Atlantic area and you have the time, we think this is a great opportunity to hear some really informative presentations and see a great show at the same time.

Please visit the Aerospace Measurement, Inspection & Analysis and Aero & Defense TEST websites for more information or feel free to call us if you have any questions..


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Direct Dimensions in 3D Artist Magazine

At Direct Dimensions we have an extensive toolbox of hardware, software and skill sets that we are constantly adding to. One of our top digital modelers, Dan Haga, has been exploring the functionality of Rhino 4.0 with the Pointools plug in to make a model of a Lamborghini Reventon.

The Lamborghini Reventon project caught the eye of the staff at 3D Artist Magazine and they featured the project and Dan in the "Work in Progress" section of their most recent issue.

Click Here to read the article.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009


We're currently at SIGGRAPH 2009 in New Orleans. It is a great show with a focus on the entertainment and visualization applications of 3D technology. We're at the show with Dimensional Imaging, demonstrating their DI3D and DI4D face scanners.

If you can't make it out to New Orleans, you can check out the videos below for a demonstration of this new face scanning technology.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Utilizing 3D Scanning for Historic Preservation

At Direct Dimensions we are using some new technologies that we believe are a perfect fit for preservation applications not only because they are fast and highly accurate, but because they are also non-contact methods of acquiring massive amounts of data that can be used for documentation, restoration and preservation.

The Druid Hill Arch is a perfect example of how our team was able to collect highly accurate data of a large monument in less than a day.

Step 1) A team of Direct Dimensions engineers and team members from John Milner Associates arrive on-site at approximately 8 AM to begin set up. Within thirty minutes they are ready to start scanning the arch.

Step 2) Using the portable Surphaser HSX Spherical Scanner the team was able to take over 20 scans in the next few hours. The Surphaser is perfect for architectural preservation projects because it can be taken anywhere (it can be carried on a plane) and is made to quickly and accurately scan mid-large range objects such as planes, vehicles and buildings.

Step 3) Our team finished scanning/data collection and was back in our office, aligning all the data by close of business the same day.

Step 4) Initial deliverables include plan views and elevations, but the data can also be used for physical reproductions, animations, renderings, virtual environments or anything else you can think of.

Stay tuned! We're still working on the Druid Hill Arch and are excited to show some of the 3D visualizations we've been working on.


Monday, July 20, 2009

CMSC presentation "History of the Articulating Arm"

Direct Dimensions is at CMSC this week. Make sure to stop by and see us at Booth 703.

If you have time tomorrow between 1:30-4:30, make sure to stop into the "Metrology Systems Fundamentals" seminar. Michael will be giving a presentation on the history of the articulating arm. For a sneak peek, check out the video below.

If you don't have time to catch the presentation or can't make it to the show, just check back here early next week. We try to make a habit out of posting show presentations so that everyone gets a chance to see them.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Real Time 3D Face Scanning

When Direct Dimensions was at the RAPID show back in May, we had a chance to demo our new face scanner, the DI3D, for Design World Magazine. We're very excited about this new face scanning technology and its applications. In just a couple of seconds the system captures enough 3D data for an incredibly realistic and accurate 3D face model.

Possible applications include:

Medical: surgical planning, analysis, and patient presentation for orthodontics, maxillofacial, plastic/cosmetics, ENT, craniofacial; medical appliances such as CPAP masks, burn masks, radiation shields, etc.; medical documentation and analysis, etc.

Entertainment: personalized avatars for video games, online social networks, movie CG animation, mass customized personal consumer items such as bobble heads, etc.

Security: facial recognition and biometrics, access control systems, facial databases

See the video below for a great demonstration of the DI3D in action.

For more on the DI3D system click here or you can also visit Dimensional Imaging.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

3D Laser Scanning Historic Druid Hill Park Entrance Arch

Direct Dimensions, Inc. in conjunction with John Milner Associates will be in Druid Hill Park this morning, June 30th, 3D laser scanning the old Madison Avenue Entrance Arch to Druid Hill Park. The 3D scan data will be used to restore the arch, part of an on-going, park-wide restoration project.

About the Arch:
• The park itself is one of the three oldest landscaped urban parks in the country (along with Central Park and Fairmount Park in Philadelphia) and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
• The entrance was completed in 1868 and served as the main entrance to the park until it was separated from the park proper by the completion of Druid Park Lake Drive.
• In 1961 the arches, declared to be a traffic hazard, were almost torn down. $14,000.00 dollars were raised for the preservation of the arches and demolition was avoided.
• Almost 50 years later the restoration efforts are finally beginning.

3D engineers from Direct Dimensions and preservation specialists from John Milner Associates will be on-site at the Druid Hill Arch today from 8 AM to 1 PM, scanning this piece of national history.

We invite anyone who is interested to come down (Madison Ave and Druid Park Lake Drive) and view the scanning/documentation process. We’re happy to answer any questions and talk about the project.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Direct Dimensions on WJZ 13's Morning Edition

Harry Abramson, Director of the Art Department at Direct Dimensions had a chance to visit with Ron Matz on WJZ Channel 13's Morning Edition. Harry and Ron discussed some of the more entertaining applications of 3D Scanning such as our work on the Lincoln Model featured in Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian and creating incredibly realistic avatars for gaming. Harry even showed Ron some Rapid Prototypes related to recent, exciting projects we've worked on, including a full scale RP of Harry's face and a 20 ft tall historic sculpture that we scanned.

You can see the segment here.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Miniature City, Massive Rapid Prototype

In the last couple of years scanning buildings and construction for everything from external historical renovations to HVAC analysis in new construction has become an increasingly large part of our business. Some of the new scanning technologies, like the Surphaser, make 3D scanning a perfect new tool for the surveyor/restoration architect/contractor's tool box, so it is not surprising that we're noticing more projects about scanning/3D models being utilized by architects.

While we've used 3D scanning for plenty of large projects, we've never seen a building project using Rapid Prototyping on such a huge scale. While we had nothing to do with this project, we thought it was too neat not to share:

Last Thursday, June 9th, a fully scaled SLA model of Chicago was unveiled in the atrium of the Chicago Architectural Foundation. According to the Chicago Tribune:

"A 25- by-35-foot model of the city will be open for viewing, free of charge at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, inspired by similar models in Beijing and Shanghai that show how those cities also have rapidly grown and changed.
The display portrays more than four square miles of the city, from the lakefront on the east to Halsted Street on the west and Oak Street on the north to 16th Street to the south. It contains an exact model of every building in the area. There are more than 1,000 of them, from a 3-foot-high Sears Tower down to old two-story storefronts."

Using grant money, the Foundation purchased existing architectural drawings and 3D models to create the massive SLA city. Columbian Model Works and Exhibit was the company that built the model and they claim that is the largest structure of it's kind. In a model of hundreds of buildings a single SLA skyscraper could take up to 70 hours to build.

The Chicago Architectural Foundation plans to keep the exhibit and add to it as the city of Chicago grows and changes. If you happen to be in Chicago between now and September 20th, make sure to stop in and see this amazing Rapid Prototyping Feat!

To read the full story in the Chicago Tribune click here.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

WJZ 13 Broadcast Featuring Direct Dimensions

In case you missed the show yesterday, WJZ 13's piece "Direct Dimensions Transforms Our Digital Universe," can be found below:

To see the story on WJZ, please visit Direct Dimensions Transforms Our Digital Universe.


Monday, June 8, 2009

DDI on WJZ Channel 13 Newscast Tonight!

above left: Direct Dimensions' Original 3D Polygonal Data. above right: Still from Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian © 2009 Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation.

We just wanted to let all of our local friends and family know that Direct Dimensions will be featured on the WJZ Channel 13 newscast on Monday June 8, 2009 during both the 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm news.

Reporter Ron Matz visited our facility to cover our work with the Lincoln Memorial and subsequent involvement in the blockbuster film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. We also had the opportunity to scan Mr. Matz and showcase our new 3D face and 3D body scanning technologies. It is an exciting time to be working in 3D technologies! Please watch and let us know what you think.

For those of you that aren't in the Baltimore area or aren't able to catch it the first time around, stay tuned. We'll post the clip as soon as we have it.

Ron Matz from Baltimore's WJZ Channel 13 News shooting the introduction at Direct Dimensions on Monday June 8, 2009


Friday, May 29, 2009

Michael Raphael's RAPID 2009 Keynote

In case you weren't able to make it to SME's RAPID 2009 Conference in Chicago and hear Michael Raphael's Keynote "A Perspective on the 3D Imaging Industry," we've posted it below for you to view:


Friday, May 1, 2009

Going to RAPID 2009?

If you are involved in product design, development, production tooling, and advanced manufacturing processes then we strongly recommend that you attend.

We love the RAPID show and this year it is co-located with the 3D Imaging conference. It promises to be three very informative days; filled with more than 60 technical sessions that address the diverse uses of rapid technologies, additive manufacturing and 3D imaging.

There will also be hands-on workshops, including workshops on metalcasting solutions and architectural modeling, plant tours and a show floor featuring major industry exhibitors. (Self promotion alert: we'll be at booth # 100 ).

One of the things that we are most excited about is that Michael is going to be giving a key-note address on the closing day of the conference. He'll be talking about the future of the 3D Scanning and Rapid Manufacturing industries. You'll want to make sure to hear his presentation if you get a chance. Michael has been working in this industry since 1985 and is full of insight on where it has been and where 3D technologies are going.

For more info on the conference please visit SME's Website.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In Case You Missed the Webinar

If you missed Michael's Live Liberty Bell Webinar for SME last week, don't be sad! You can still access it here. And, while it is no longer live, we are still happy to answer any questions you might have.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PBS Motorweek Talks Biodiesel

Direct Dimensions' work with Biodiesel University was featured on the PBS series "Motorweek." Direct Dimensions laser scanned and digitally modeled the bus interior to help Biodiesel University visualize the space planning of the Mobile Lab.

This episode reported on the alternative renewable fuel biodiesel. Other episode highlights include an "apple seed" hot water tank conversion, a local biodiesel co-op, and an overview of what biodiesel fuel can do, and why "homebrews" feel it's an important step in moving away from traditional fossil fuels.

You can see our Animated Walkthrough around minute 3:25 of the video!

More about Biodiesel University here.

View our Biodiesel University Featured Project here.

The full segment will air again this Thursday March 19 at 8pm on PBS and MPT.


Friday, April 10, 2009

SME Free Webinar Presented by Michael Raphael


Attend the Innovative Technology and American History in 3D webinar on April 22, 2009. Michael Raphael, President of Direct Dimensions, Inc. explains how accurate 3D laser image data from the actual Liberty Bell was used to create a 3D CAD model of the original Pass & Stow design. Learn more and register.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Michael Raphael's Geomagic Convergence 2009 Presentation

For those of you that were unable to attend Geomagic's Annual Convergence meeting last month, don't worry! You can still see Michael's presentation here, as promised.


Friday, February 20, 2009

A Perspective on 3D Scanning and Digital Modeling

If you are going to be at Geomagic Convergence ‘09 next week, make sure to stop by our booth and say hello. You’ll also want to make sure to catch Michael Raphael’s presentation:

A Perspective on 3D Scanning and Digital Modeling

The applications for 3D scanning and point cloud modeling technologies are growing around us at an increasing rate. These solutions are gaining awareness and adoption by more people and in more ways than ever before. The use of 3D models made from existing physical objects is fast becoming the expected means for manufacturing, visualization, analysis, documentation, and even our entertainment. This presentation provides a high level perspective of 3D scanning and digital modeling applications and technologies across all industries. Presented by Michael Raphael, founder and president of Direct Dimensions, Inc.

If scheduling conflicts prevent you from attending Convergence and seeing the presentation live, then make sure to check back here next week where we will have Michael’s presentation available in downloadable format.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

DDI to present at CAA 2009

Direct Dimensions is proud to announce that we will be participating in the International Conference on Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) as the Exhibitors and Workshop chair.

The conference, hosted by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and The University of Virginia, is to be held from March 22-26, 2009 in Williamsburg, Virginia. This year’s theme will be “Making History Interactive,” and will be reflected in both the conference activities and the unique venue. As an organization, CAA is dedicated to the application of digital technologies that make it possible to access and investigate our cultural heritage in new ways. Using digital technologies, archaeologists can interact with the historical record, to push the boundaries of interpretation and further our understanding of the past.

Williamsburg served as the capital of Virginia from 1699 to 1780 and today is the site of the nation’s largest outdoor living history museum. Founded in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation seeks to engage people in the exploration of the revolutionary events and ideals that led to the establishment of a new nation. In addition to the standard conference activities, attendees will be able to participate in workshops and courses related to digital applications, take behind-the-scenes tours to learn how history is made interactive, and experience what life was like in the 18th century.

Exhibitor space
at CAA 2009 is still available. For more information, including registration details, please visit


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Attention Geomagic Users

DDI Lead Designer Jeff Mechlinski presenting at last year's Geomagic Convergence

The Geomagic Convergence Conference is a three day summit designed specifically for DSSP (Digital Shape Sampling and Processing). 3D technology experts and industry leaders from around the world will gather together to share know-how, exchange ideas and best practices. The goal is to provide you with the knowledge, new ideas and a wealth of business contacts to enable you and your company to succeed in the market place.

DDI president and chief engineer Michael Raphael will be a featured speaker at the conference, which runs February 24-26, 2009 in Savannah, GA. If you are a Direct Dimensions Geomagic customer, you should seriously consider attending this event. Contact us for further information and please visit the Convergence '09 website for more information.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Five More Patriotic Projects

We had a blast pulling together January’s “Presidential” newsletter but even we were overwhelmed by how many important projects we’ve worked on in the realm of American history. We couldn’t fit them all in our newsletter so here are five more that we love, in reverse order:

5. The Liberty Bell / The Normandy Liberty Bell - DDI has had the privilege to laser scan Philadelphia's Liberty Bell on numerous occasions. The data we acquired during these scans has been used in several projects, including exact and modified replicas. In 2004, we were commissioned to help create a replica bell without the iconic crack to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the August 6th, 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy Beach by Allied forces. Following a ceremony in Normandy, France on this anniversary weekend, the completed bell was returned to the U.S. and now rests in Philadelphia.

4. Louis XVI Portrait Frame - DDI had the opportunity to scan a priceless painted portrait frame that had been gifted by France's King Louis XVI to George Washington. A representative section of the ornate frame was 3D laser scanned and the resulting data was digitally modeled into a format suitable for replication. A foam prototype of the frame was produced initially and a milled replica is to be created some in several different materials.

3. “Young Ben” Franklin - DDI laser scanned a three-foot tall bronze bust of a youthful Ben Franklin. The sculpture, which is displayed in the University of Pennsylvania's on-campus bookstore, shows the founding father as a young man. The data captured in the laser scan was digitally modeled and used to produce high resolution prototype miniatures of the bust. These prototypes were then used as casting patterns for 8" and 12" bronze replicas.

2. The Lincoln Memorial – Two months after 9/11, Direct Dimensions laser scanned portions of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC for historical documentation of the ornate design. We were able to capture the marble sculpture of Abraham Lincoln himself, as well as the columns and engravings surrounding him. The scans were aligned together to produce an integrated digital model of the monument that can be used to exactly reproduce the original model.

1. Riding In Style – And for the neatest Presidential-related project, in late 2004, DDI scanned the inside seating area of a unique, highly armored vehicle in Washington, D.C.. We'd love to spill our secret further because this was seriously one of the coolest projects we’ve ever done, but we’re not allowed to say any more about this particular project – for obvious reasons.

You can read about more projects here.


Mattie Stepanek Follow-up

Photo by Ed Tenney

Last week, Oprah Winfrey aired a touching remembrance of Mattie Stepanek on her show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. The segment included the October 2008 dedication of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park in Rockville, Maryland, including footage of the Mattie sculpture which Direct Dimensions helped sculptor Jimilu Mason to produce.

Her tribute also included a beautifully-done video tribute to the young poet, which can be viewed on her memorial page, Remembering Mattie.

You can read more about the Mattie Stepanek Memorial sculpture in our blog archives, or in our DDI project portfolio.