Monday, November 2, 2015

3D Scanning for VFX

We've been 3D scanning airplanes for twenty years but last fall we were able to use our two decades of experience for a slightly different deliverable: to help create incredibly realistic airplane vfx for the new Steven Spielberg film, Bridge of Spies. Direct Dimensions' team scanned a plane, props, costume and actor for the production.

You can see some vfx shots in the below trailer or in the theaters:


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

3D "House of Dreams"

Baltimore Arts Realty Corp. broke ground this week on a new maker-space for the city, Open Works.

MD Rep Elijah Cummings celebrated the ground breaking of this "House of Dreams" with a speech that included a hat tip to our very own Michael Raphael. We are thankful and lucky to be part of this amazing maker/tech community in Baltimore.  Incredible organizations and spaces, like Open Works, are happening all the time in Charm City and we hope to continue to take part.

Direct Dimensions' President Michael Raphael shows 3D printed scan data to Representative Cummings.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Virtual Shipwreck Reconstruction

3D data of ship timbers
When repairing a bridge over the Nanticoke River, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) discovered what appeared to be a remarkably intact 18th century shipwreck in the water.

From the Maryland Department of Transportation: “The inadvertent discovery of this shipwreck is an amazing opportunity to study early maritime history. It reminds us how Marylanders used to move goods and people across the region. It’s not every day we get to touch a shipwreck built more than 200 years ago,” said Dr. Julie Schablitsky, SHA Chief Archaeologist.  

But how best to document such fragile, and historically important materials? 3D scanning of the timbers will allow archaeologists from the SHA to digitally reconstruct this important discovery.

Direct Dimensions' scanner documenting large timber
 You can learn more about 3D documentation of cultural heritage sites here


Friday, August 21, 2015

3D Animation of Pterosaur Entertains and Educates at Toledo Zoo

In 2009 Julia Molnar, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University brought us a set of bone castings from a well preserved pterosaur skeleton. For her masters thesis project, Ms. Molnar was studying the way in which pterosaurs would have taken flight. Very little is known about their launch sequence, and how such an enormous creature could vault into the sky without dragging its giant wings along the ground.

To discern how this might be possible, Ms. Molnar needed the following: to digitize the cast pieces, assemble correctly into a complete skeleton, and help formulate the 3D motion sequence for the ancient creature within the computer.The final result was a 3D animation showing the proposed sequence.

We often say that you should scan everything because you never know when you'll need the 3D data and the pterosaur skeleton animation is a perfect example of that.

Several years after we completed the project the Toledo Zoo added a pterosaur section to their reptile exhibit and they were looking for some way to show how the giant creatures would have flown. The launch sequence video was a perfect fit for their exhibit and the video is now being shown to the nearly million visitors that the zoo has each year.


Monday, July 27, 2015

USIBD Digital Reality Symposium 2015

We've been using 3D laser scanning to document as-built conditions for AEC for a long time and think that this technology is a perfect fit for AEC.

Applications for 3D scanning include mechanical documentation of an existing MEP conditions - regardless of how crowded the existing space, models compatible with REVIT and Navisworks, comprehensive 3D documentation of As-Builts into BIM-ready CAD for Pre-Construction Job assessment, structural analysis, spatial relationships, facility layout,virtual fly-throughs and 3D prints.

We are encouraging interested folks to attend the USIBD Digital Reality Symposium 2015 this fall in Las Vegas to learn more about 3D Scanning and 3D printing for AEC.

We'll be there speaking about 3D printing. Learn more about the symposium here.


Monday, July 20, 2015

The Rosetta Stone: Creating a Digital Replica

In 1798 Napoleon sent a large corps of scientists and scholars to accompany his troops in Egypt. Intended to establish his Enlightenment cred, these scholars sent back various reports to France. On July 19, 1799, one of those experts sent a letter detailing an ancient stone that contained writing in three languages:  undecipherable Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Demotic, and ancient Greek. That find, the Rosetta Stone, was the key to understanding ancient Egyptian writing and an entire civilization.

In an early 19th century form of competitive crowdsourcing, many casts and lithographs of the stone were made and a diverse field of scholars used them to spend the next twenty years deciphering the unknown Egyptian languages.

Direct Dimensions joined that community of scholars, lithographers and cast makers when we 3D scanned one of the original casts of the Rosetta Stone to make a digital replica (without touching the precious original artifact).

The final 3D model is a 21st century digital copy that is 3d printable and will allow scholars and Egyptophiles to continue to analyze (or even own) an exact copy of the original.

Read more about the 3D scanning of the Rosetta Stone on our website.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

How to Print a Brain

When the creators of the "Your Brain" exhibit at The Franklin Institute tried to make a 3D print of a brain model they were turned away by every 3D printing company they approached. The companies all said the intricate 3D model would be impossible to print.

Then they came to Direct Dimensions.

Having been in business for twenty years, we are always excited to solve "impossible" problems. As experts of 3D model creation we went back to the beginning and approached the problem from a data perspective.

According to Direct Dimensions' Art Director, Harry Abramson: "Fortunately Dr. Voss provided an amazing data set for us to start with. In order to print this at large scale, each of the thousands of strand models would have to be fused to create a single brain model that could then be sliced into printable parts that fit in the build envelope. The whole model would then need engineering and design modifications to ensure that it could be assembled precisely and support itself on its custom mount.
To collaborate on the printing we contacted our friends at American Precision Prototyping. “We went over the size constraints of the build envelope, the volume of the object and our lead time, and very quickly I had a price and APP's guarantee that they could build the brain as long as we could prepare the files,” said Abramson. “What we lacked in budget, we made up with having a long lead time, so the project was a go!” 
The final, giant brain print is the centerpiece of the exhibit.
From APP's story on the project: "It has really become one of the iconic pieces of the exhibit. Its sheer aesthetic beauty takes your breath away and transforms the exhibit space," said Dr. Das. "The fact that it comes from real data adds a level of authenticity to the science that we are presenting. But even if you don't quite understand what it shows, it captures a sense of delicate complexity that evokes a sense of wonder about the brain."
You can read more about this incredible example of 3D printing on the Weill Cornell site or on American Precision Prototyping's page.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Scanning at the Movies: Terminator: Genisys

See some of our latest 3D scanning on the big screen this week when Terminator: Genisys arrives in the theaters.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Project Snapshot: Turbines in India

Turbine measurements in the middle of the night, in India, during monsoon season? No problem!


Monday, May 25, 2015

Project Snapshot: Memorial Day

3D scanning and modeling Tomb of the Unknowns to facilitate eventual repair or replacement of crack.
3D face scan for the Wounded Warrior sculpture project, Spirit of Survival
Using 3D printing to create a prototype "Battlefield Cross" memorial sculpture.

3D Scanning the Marine Corps War Memorial


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What's Been Happening at Direct Dimensions?

April brings many things: showers, taxes, and even fools  - but at Direct Dimensions April seems to bring major events and exciting projects. We've gone the entire month without having a chance to update our blog. So what has kept us so busy?

1. Our 20th Anniversary!
On April 7th we celebrated 20 years of business. To commemorate this major milestone we created an anniversary website that highlights some of our most incredible projects.

2. Conferences
DDI President Michael Raphael leads a workshop on scanning at the Inside 3D Printing conference
This month found us traveling all over to attend events like SPAR2015, the Inside 3D Printing Conference and, closer to home, Maryland Day at the University of Maryland. 

3. Helping Create a One-of-a-Kind Time Capsule
Last year we volunteered to scan the monumental George Washington sculpture at the top of Baltimore's Washington Monument.  This month the data was used to create 3D prints for a special time capsule that will be embedded in the newly renovated monument. Check back soon for a longer post on this first-of-its-kind project.

4. Projects, Projects, and More Great Projects
We had folks out in Colorado scanning buildings, in Pittsburgh at a manufacturing facility, crews on-site for multiple movies and a crew scanning a historic plantation as well as major artists visiting our facility. We are certainly never bored! 

We're looking forward to sharing more 3D scanning in May!


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

20th Anniversary: 1998-2003

Last week we began tweeting an image/year a day (@dirdim, #DDI20) in honor of our upcoming 20th anniversary. You can revisit the first few days here or on twitter.  As promised, we're recapping on our blog for those who don't tweet. So without further ado - Direct Dimensions 1998-2003.

1998 - we scanned an original Wright Brothers Propeller for an episode of NOVA. You can read more about the Wright Brothers Scan on our website.

1999 - We began using 3D scanners to help create custom prostheses. For more click here.

2000 - Our 5th year, we were already 3D scanning complex castings for CAD-based dimensional inspection.
2001 - The National Park Service asked Direct Dimensions to demonstrate how 3D scanning can help preserve our nation's monuments and important sites. We scanned the Lincoln Memorial as an example.
2002 - We 3D scanned a unique life-size sculpture inspired by Renoir to make a monumental scaled version.
2003 - Direct Dimensions digitally captured Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis to help make a lifesized bust for a charity auction.

Check back this weekend for 2004-2010 or follow us on twitter to see #DDI20 images daily!


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Promoting 3D Scanning: 98Rock and SPAR 2015

We've been in the 3D scanning business for twenty years but it never gets any less exciting to us. We love opportunities to educate new comers to the world of reality computing and 3D printing.

Last week our very own Michael Raphael and Harry Abramson had the chance to introduce 3D scanning to  Baltimore commuters when they appeared on the 98Rock Morning Show and shared incredible (and funny) stories about our favorite disruptive technology. Check out the video below to see a short segment of the show.

This week we are attending SPAR 2015 where Michael will be giving a presentation on using 3D scanning for film vfx: Scanning the Stars: Making Digital Assets for Hollywood VFX.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Counting Down to Our 20th Anniversary

If you don't follow our twitter feed (@dirdim) you might have missed our announcement that we're just weeks away from Direct Dimensions' 20th anniversary.

On the 19th we tweeted a picture from 1995 of founder and president Michael Raphael using one of the very first FaroArms. We'll continue posting a picture/project per year until our anniversary. It should be a fun look, not just into the history of Direct Dimensions, but at the history of 3D scanning. If you aren't on twitter we'll recap here every week.

Here's what we covered this week:

Michael Raphael using one of the first arms from Faro.

Year 1: 1995. One of our very first projects was to help create a monumental sized sculpture for the Olympic Games in Atlanta. You can read more about the project here.

Year 2: 1996. Here is Michael our 2nd year, using a FaroArm to inspect trimmed edges to 3D CAD in real time.
Year 3: 1997 We 3D digitized a serious collector car called a Cunningham C-4R.

Follow us on twitter or check back here to see 1998-2003 next week!


Monday, March 9, 2015

REAL2015 Recap for LiDAR News

Direct Dimensions Founder and President Michael Raphael is a regular contributor to LiDAR News where he discusses interesting trends and stories from our world of 3D Laser Scanning. He recently attended AutoDesk's REAL2015 event and recapped it for those who could not attend.

Last week Autodesk quite successfully staged the “REAL2015” conference in San Francisco focused on how we are increasingly using 3D to Capture (scan), Compute (design), and Create (fabricate).  The event was definitely different in many ways from the more traditional industry conferences many of us regularly attend, such as SPAR, Autodesk University, RAPID, or the Hexagon, FARO, ESRI, and Trimble user events.  The line-up of speakers, for example, was not your usual industry faces.  Most of the speakers presented on aspects of 3D, such as 3D scanning, 3D design, or 3D printing.  Although many were not necessarily expert or even hard core 3D users per se - most really had compelling stories about how they leverage 3D to create incredible products, artwork, designs, structures, exhibitions, visualizations, or something else that was likely pretty interesting to hear and see.

Staged at Fort Mason, a former Army base now managed by the National Park Service near Fisherman’s Wharf, in long barrack-like building on a pier over the water, the event clearly had flavors of a “TED” conference.  Design elements even included large, in this case blue, block letters on stage forming the word “REAL”, a very large presentation screen, a set of cushy lounge chairs, and even the trademark carpet circle with no podium.  In all the venue seemed about perfect for this inaugural event.  It never felt too small or too large, the exhibition space was perfectly sized also, and it also seemed by most that the event logistics ran nearly flawless.  Hats off to Autodesk and especially to the REAL2015 co-organizers:  Robert Shear, Autodesk’s Senior Director and GM of the Reality Solutions group, and Alonzo Addison, former Cyra VP, UNESCO advisor, professor, and entrepreneur brought on specifically for this project.

The conference started off with several fantastic international speakers including Eythor Bender of UNYQ about the design and fabrication of artistic custom prosthetic leg fairings, Stuart Brown talking about how they use 3D to reproduce exotic classic cars, and Tim Zaman of the Delft University reproducing famous master paintings with incredible 3D scanning including works by Rembrandt.  The highlight of this first session was Sarah Kenderdine of the University of New South Wales in Australia showing example after example of absolutely amazing implementations of interactive visualizations for various museum exhibitions.  This kickoff session, aptly entitled “REAL Stories,” lived up to its name with each providing thoughtful contemplation of how 3D can if not change lives, certainly improve lives.

You can read the rest of the REAL2015 summary over at LiDAR News.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Project Snapshot: Drone Scan of Francis Scott Key Memorial

Direct Dimensions partnered with Elevated Element to use a drone in conjunction with 3D scanning to digitally document the Francis Scott Key Memorial in Baltimore, MD. 


Monday, February 16, 2015

Presidents Day Round Up

In honor of Presidents Day, here is a sampling of presidential sites we've 3D scanned at Direct Dimensions.

Last Friday Direct Dimensions was on-site at George Washington's Mount Vernon to fully digital document this historical home. The 3D scans will help preservationists determine the age of building components, from nails to floor planks, allowing them to decipher what parts of the home date back to Washington himself, and what parts are more "modern" repairs or additions. You can read more about the 3D documentation of Mount Vernon here.

Over 200 feet in the air, a monumental sculpture of George Washington sits atop the first Washington Monument in Baltimore's Mount Vernon neighborhood. As part of an extensive renovation project the sculpture was digitized for documentation and restoration purposes. Two different scanning technologies were employed, the Faro Focus and a handheld Artec EVA scanner.

Perhaps the most well known presidential monument is the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.  This image is from an actual 3D laser scan of the Memorial and was performed in Dec. 2001 as a demonstration of lidar technology. You can visit our Sketchfab page and download the model for 3D printing for free!
Happy Presidents Day!


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Prosthetic Limbs Created With 3D Scanning and Printing

While there are many medical applications for 3D scanning, some of the more significant projects we’ve seen use the technology to promote healing, dignity, and even a sense of community.  The creation of prosthetic limbs is an incredible example of how 3D scanning and 3D printing are enriching lives. On one end of the spectrum we see new limbs that can be incredibly detailed and realistic, at the other end is an amazing crowd sourcing movement that helps create simple, futuristic, robotic prostheses for those who can't afford them otherwise.

An example of the first type of prosthetic was a patient who came to our facility that had lost a hand in a tragic accident. The goal was to create a new life-like hand including the fine details of skin texture. His doctor was interested in how 3D laser scanning might augment his typical methods. The doctor came to Direct Dimensions’ lab with a plaster casting he had taken of his patient’s intact hand. We scanned this casting two different ways to ensure the highest quality of data possible: first with a laser line scanner mounted on a Faro Arm and second with a laser line scanner mounted on a motorized precision coordinate measuring machine, or CMM.The resulting data from the scans was incredibly detailed, containing millions of 3D polygons. During the modeling process, utilizing PolyWorks software, the model was also flipped to create a mirror of the plaster casting and a faithful re-creation of the clients lost hand.

The high resolution 3D digital model was used to create a 3D print at an incredibly high resolution. The prototype prosthetic hand which we delivered was so lifelike that you could even see pores and hair follicles. Using the prototype hand a finalized prosthetic in silicone was created with no loss of detail - truly an exceptional achievement,

Another example of innovative prosthetic creation is the amazing hand project powered by a community of makers with desktop 3D printers.  A group called e-NABLE facilitates the effort by crowdsourcing the design and fabrication of 3D printed ‘robot’ hands.  These plastic hands give function to those in need, particularly children, missing hands for various reasons, and usually unsuited for expensive prosthetics.  We are proud to have contributed over a dozen 3D printed hands to the project as well as authoring an illustrated instruction manual for assembly for the international e-NABLE community.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Project Snapshot: Rodin's The Thinker

In 2014 we scanned Auguste Rodin's The Thinker sculpture at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The BMA used the data for promotion at Baltimore's annual Artscape festival. The 3D model can also be used for archival purposes, research, or even the create mini "Thinkers" for the BMA's giftshop.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Making Reality Digital, Making the Digital into the Physical

 Direct Dimensions founder and President, Michael Raphael, was asked to present on the possibilities of 3D Scanning and Printing at Faro's 3D Documentation conference.

Through compelling visual case studies you can learn how 3D scanning helps make the physical into digital, and how that data in turn can be used to 3D print new objects. Case studies include national monuments, buildings, historic artifacts, consumer and medical applications and face and figure scanning. You can watch the presentation below.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial: The Table of Brotherhood

In 2011 Chevrolet released a short in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., entitled "The Table of Brotherhood." The spot's release coincided with the newly dedicated Memorial to Dr. King in Washington DC.

To have the short filmed and edited in time for the dedication of the memorial, however, it needed to be completed before the monument was finished. To help create the filmed memorial, a small scale maquette of the monumental sculptre was scanned and 3D modeled. The digital version of the memorial was edited into the video. Below are images from the scanning and modeling process, as well as the final video for "The Table of Brotherhood."