Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Everything You Always Wanted to Know . . . Desktop Manufacturing

Desktop 3D Printers

Welcome to part 2 of this topic- Desktop 3D Printers

Like 3D scanners, 3D printers have already reached the small business market and are now just entering the individual consumer marketplace. Their build envelopes are limited but what could be cooler than printing your own action figures, robot parts, or 3D portraits?

* The RepRap project is an open-source project aimed at creating self replication rapid manufacturing machines. Based out of Bath University, the project shares its plans and the RepRap community can build as is or make their own improvements, which they can then share.

* At the other end of the Desktop 3D printer spectrum comes the V Flash from 3D Systems. Rather than making your 3D printer from scratch you can buy this smaller version of traditional additive manufacturing technology. It is priced for small businesses and schools.

* In the same market space as the V Flash, Solido bills their SolidPro300 as the “world's most cost efficient and flexible 3D printer”. In the US the SolidPro300 is distributed by Enser.

* Between RepRap, the V Flash, and SolidPro300 comes the Makerbot Cupcake CNC. Makerbot sells a kit for the Cupcake CNC but the customer puts it together. Like RepRap, they also host a community called Thingverse. Though their community revolves more around the 3D models than the machine itself. They are also working on a 3D scanning kit.

* HP has also recently announced that they are entering the market in an agreement with Stratysis who will produce mainstream 3D printers using Fused Deposition Modeling technology.

The above examples are just a small selection from a quickly developing marketplace, but they are a good indication of what home scanning technologies are just around the corner. Thanks for reading “Everything you always wanted to know about 3D scanning”, we hope it is has been an informative series!

If you have any questions feel free to contact us at info@dirdim.com.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Everything You Always Wanted to Know . . . Desktop Scanning and Manufacturing

Chapter 10, Part 1: The Future - Desktop Scanning and Manufacturing

Before we finish our series “Everything you always wanted to know about 3D scanning” we wanted to take a moment to talk about what we think is the immediate future in 3D scanning and manufacturing: the technology is going Desktop.

In the last few years, companies have been creating more products with smaller footprints, at much lower price points, making the technology a viable tool for schools and medium to small businesses. In addition to these new products, students and hobbyists have been creating (and sharing) do-it-yourself versions of 3D scanning and rapid manufacturing products. Soon we could see 3D scanners and printers in home offices!

Coming in the near future – to a home workshop near you!

Commercial Desktop and Handheld Scanners

There are a few digitizers and scanners out there that are sized and priced for the small business. The price points are not yet for your everyday consumer, but it is getting closer all of the time.

* One of our favorite desktop digitizer/scanners is the Microscribe. It is a miniature articulating arm that is easily portable, is compatible with most popular reverse engineering and metrology packages, and offers near metrology level accuracy in a small package. Obviously you are not going to digitize an airplane with this – but we consider it the first major desktop digitizer (an attachable scanner is also available).
* 3D metrology has also entered the realm of handheld and wireless. eMicroscibe also now offer the MobiGage, the first handheld 3D metrology app. You don’t even need a computer, just a Microscribe and an iPhone or iPod Touch, to take measurements.
* Next Engine also offers a desk top 3D laser scanner. Its compact size, ease of use, customer support and price point are quickly making it a popular choice for small businesses and individuals.

Open Source, Consumer and Up-Coming Scanning Technologies:

While they don’t come close to offering the same kind of accuracy as current available scanning systems, there is a burgeoning community of small businesses, hobbyists and students who are working to bring 3D scanners into the home. New products are rapidly developing.

* Qi Pan, a student at Cambridge University has created ProFORMA, which uses a web cam to collect data and create a color 3D model.
* David Laser Scanner offers a kit to build your own basic scanning system using every day objects like a web cam and hand held laser pointer.
* Perhaps the ultimate in DIY scanners, Friederich Kirschner used Legos, a webcam and some milk to create 3D models.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this chapter- Desktop Manufacturing. If you have any questions about desktop scanning equipment, like the Microscribe, feel free to contact Direct Dimensions. We're happy to answer any questions.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Call for Papers - CMSC

The Coordinate Metrology Society (CMS), the eminent membership association for measurement professionals, proudly announces the "Call for Papers" for their 2011 Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference (CMSC).

The 27th annual event will be held in Phoenix, AZ from July 25-29, 2011. Metrology professionals from leading manufacturers and science laboratories are invited to submit abstracts for technical papers and presentations covering industry best practices, scientific research and developments, and successful applications of 3D coordinate measurement systems. Abstract submissions will be peer reviewed by the CMS Executive Committee and considered for presentation at CMSC 2011.

Click here for more information.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Case Study: 3D Scanning for Historical Preservation

Quality Magazine recently ran a story about our 3D scan project for the Maryland Statehouse. You can read the story below.

Archiving the Past

Restoring the original architectural design of The Maryland State House – a Georgian style building built during the Revolutionary War – was made easier with 3-D imaging technology.

In summer 2008, Direct Dimensions Inc. (DDI), a 3-D laser scanning services firm, performed digital archival work at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, MD. The Maryland Statehouse functions today as the oldest continuously used State House in the nation. It was in the room known as the “Old Senate Chamber” within the Maryland State House that George Washington submitted his resignation as the Commander of the Continental Army on December 23, 1783.

A major renovation planned for the Old Senate Chamber, which included removing the plaster walls to show the original brick surface, created a unique opportunity to document the initial structure of this historically important space. With the brick uncovered for only a short period, the archivists wanted to find a way to quickly and accurately document the chamber.

Given the significance of this structure, DDI was quite willing to demonstrate the 3-D digital capabilities that can be used to not only document but also help analyze the existing structure, site plan and even restore the building.

“The archivists had employed a fairly high-tech program, so we were excited to show them our 3-D imaging technologies to help them stay ahead of the curve,” DDI Business Development Manager Harry Abramson explained.

With only one day on-site in Annapolis to document the entire chamber, the DDI engineering team chose the Surphaser HSX medium-range laser for the project. The Surphaser scanner works by sweeping a laser over a specified area. This then returns a high-definition data map of the surfaces touched by the laser. The resulting data can be up to half a billion of points on the surface map, which is shown as a point cloud. This point cloud is used to model an exact digital replica of the scanned structure.

The Surphaser laser scanner was a perfect tool for this project because it was easily portable and able to quickly laser scan the entire Old Senate Chamber room, which included its exposed original brick walls, plaster ceiling, wood plank flooring, a small second story balcony and the architectural ornamental elements. The scanner, mounted on a tripod like a camera, collected raw data in the form of a dense 3-D point cloud of millions of coordinates of the elements within the chamber. In the end, these 3-D laser images formed a high-definition survey of the entire space, a process that could take weeks using conventional measurement tools.

With the scanning complete, the team returned to DDI, where the raw data scans were loaded into PolyWorks software and then coordinated and aligned together to form a single point cloud of the entire space. The point cloud was processed into a digital mesh and surfaced.

The 3-D model of the Old Senate Chamber was provided for the Historical Structure Archive for the State. The model represents a complete digital duplication of this important space. Due to its resolution and accuracy it could also be used to replicate historical elements in exact detail, should the need arise. The same data can also be used to create architectural elevation drawings, 3-D animations and walkthroughs, or even a miniature physical representation.