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3D Printing + 3D Scanning

edited October 2013 in Technology
Recently started working at a company that specialises in 3D printing, 3D scanning and a lot of other things 3D. I'm studying Engineering Product Design (sometimes called Industrial design), 3D printing on it's own is a deviation from product design but it excites me all the same.

After 2 weeks of work the fun and joy is no more. For one reason, 'Architects'.

However there's still loads of fun for everyone to enjoy, everyone should definitely have a 3D printer in their home.

Based on my knowledge and experience I can make some recommendations on how to get into 3D printing/ scanning for whatever means.

So why 3D print?

A good stupid answer would be, because you can. There are loads of cheap plastic objects that you use around the home that often gets manufactured in China or another Asian country, that then has to be shipped across the world before you pay the pennies for them. You can eliminate the environmental impact but simply making stuff yourself. It's not hard to do, if you know how.

3D applications are making it easier for the average person to do. Autodesk 123D Make Apps are the best place to start and it's freeeeee.

However these tools are quite dumbed down for those reasons, so you're limited to the amount of control of the input/ output of 3D data. So that might mean that anything you scan/ print might be low resolution.

It's good if you don't have a 3D printer of your own, and you might just want to share 3d objects/ models/ scans of anything really to anyone. Or small desk toys that are just fun to have.

If you want products/ assets that you actually want real use out of, that's when you have to start spending some monies.

Without going into the different types of 3D printing, since google/ wiki can tell you that stuff anyway, know that like anything there's advantages + disadvantages to each process.

For getting into 3D printing, FDM is all the rage. Makerbot is leading the way, it's pricey but for good reason.

They offer a nice variety of plastics to print with, including translucent and glow in the dark plastics. The software is excellent for not wasting material and still creating 'strong' objects.

Other FDM 3D printers are behind Makerbot, but they're more less all the same. Just differences in software, print quality, , price and usability.

The UP Plus 2 3D printer is excellent in terms of reliability and ease of use, however limited to a smaller build area.

Could go more into each printer but later, maybe.

Ok let's say you have a 3D printer, now you need something to print. So you need a model of something.

You could download free models from websites GrabCad or make your own. For that you need software. 123D make can do the job to an extent, but really you need software like Inventor, 3DsMax, Solidworks, Rhino. A 3D application that lets you generate 3D geometry.

Then youtube some tutorials, it's not hard. Unless you're doing something so complex, that you probably should be paying someone to make for you, or really learn how to model yourself.

If it's art over function, you might want to use a sculpting program like Mudbox/ Zbrush and have a tablet. Nice cheap bamboo would do mostly.

Or forget modelling altogether and start scanning.

Scanning is great for replicating/ modifying something already made, but the scanning procedure require more calibration the more accurate you want you model to be. Really that just means, better setups like having a photography studio, depending on what you scanning, or more expensive equipment, Depending on how accurate you want it.

But really, with programs like 123d Catch, Microsoft photosynth you can generate point clouds/ meshes that you can then use to model over or directly print from. Using any old digital camera.

If you want better accuracy you're going to need something with abit more parity like a Kinect sensor, Gotcha 3D scanner, Makerbot Digitizer.


Test Bunny!!
Post edited by Dazzle369 on


  • I was a relative yearly adopter on the Replicator 2, and for all the stupid problems it has and all the times I have sworn, hissed, and wasted entire nights of sleep; I love having and using the thing, love being forced to learn new things about machines, electronics, software, and manufacture... and it does amazing stuff for my own Industrial Design practice.

    I have put time and money into upgrades, to the point a Rep2x would have been a better buy... If it was available when I was buying.

    In a few years I think the stuff we can do with printing and 'maker' equipment is going to be mind-blasting.
  • Had a play on Formlabs, FORM 1. The prints come out very slick. Though the hardware isn't reliable, power cuts out, motors not driving the various parts so the internet tells me. We've lost the power on ours, so needs to be sent back. Looks good outside, but the manufacturing quality for the internal bits isn't quite there yet.

    The prints are awesome when it works though. You get very good 'high' tolerant prints. Great for actually making detailed prints that you might want to use for prototyping, or just for art.

    The software is very intuitive, but there's also counter intuitive bits that could really do with some work. Knowing how long the print will take and how much material it's consume before pressing print is a key feature that needs to be implemented.
  • That's something not even the Makerbot people have been able to implement properly: tho the stratysis printers I used before had all of those features in the software like it wasn't even a problem. Maybe the Makerbot partnership there will bear fruit in terms of better software down the road.

    Working on installing my heated build plate today, among other chores. I think it's gonna make the bot a mean little unit. Next will be aluminum everything upgrades so that nothing structural is plastic. People who have done so point to prints that are surpassing even some high-end industrial units in terms of precision.

    I was holding out hopes that the FORM 1 would be nice. Seems it's a good first attempt?

    I think in 2-3 years anyone serious about prototyping will have an SLS machine in their office.
  • For the price you pay for it I would hold out till they start making more reliable units. literally our Form1 printer died on the first print. It was 90% done then you just couldn't get it to turn on. The finish on the print was pretty good. Printed a bit hastily though, still need to get some isopropyl alcohol to remove the support material.

    The most reliable desktop printer we have is the Up Plus. The accuracy isn't as good, but it's very consistent and easy to maintain. Also the software is good at building support material that's easy to breakaway. It also calculates the material and print time, before you print.

    I do hope Formlabs solve these very small manufacturing issues, because the potential of the prints are great.

    It's actually pretty fast too.
  • After upgrading the Makerbot, the only appropriate way to describe it is with the following:


    Was at the awards ceremony last night, met some really cool people. The show floor is even better. Go see if you get the chance. Coming to Paris and New York too.
  • Form1 back in action WOOP. Got it connected to a surge protector, just in case.
  • All I know is I'm very happy to have sunk some cash into 3D printing stocks a year ago (even given some nice pullback the past 2 days)
  • On the plus side, looks like I will have unlimited access to a 3D printer very soon. There is a library less than a half mile from my house, which is getting a $10k makerspace grant. I responded to their call for volunteers and they want me help them pick out what to buy and run a soldering class. In return I'd get free reign with all the equipment they buy, and a stipend to cover consumables, to be renenewed/expanded if I wind up doing more for them.
  • I was just talking with some webcomic artists I know about 3D printing garage kits of their characters for artist alley. While the Makerbot figures still need a lot of finessing, there are companies like Shapeways in my neck of the woods that do super high resolution prints. Definitely something to think about for the future.
  • Oh, seeing as this thread is now here, I have ordered a PrintrBot Plus V2.1! I can't wait for it to get here so I can start printing.

    I will also be offering print services to the engineering students at my school since most of them don't have access to the 3d printer. Also, the art students. I feel monies in my future.
  • The Ormerod is a relatively new 3D printer. Affordable! Medium size build volume.

    Here's my first real world use of a (Up) 3D printer. Replacing a shower head holder. Measure with a vernier caliper, modeled in Solidworks.


    The plastic chrome finish part is the original that had broken, the black one is the printed version.


    It fits. It works. I can shower again, handsfree.

  • In case you've missed the CES 2014 news from 3DSystems.
  • Oh, seeing as this thread is now here, I have ordered a PrintrBot Plus V2.1! I can't wait for it to get here so I can start printing.

    I will also be offering print services to the engineering students at my school since most of them don't have access to the 3d printer. Also, the art students. I feel monies in my future.

  • When I spoke to my dad yesterday, he told me that the local public library where he lives has a 3D printer now, and they offer a 45 minute class on how to use it.

    How awesome is that??!!
  • I just took apart my Reprappro Mendel to rebuild it and try to find why my bed or x-axis isn't level.
  • Oh, seeing as this thread is now here, I have ordered a PrintrBot Plus V2.1! I can't wait for it to get here so I can start printing.

    I will also be offering print services to the engineering students at my school since most of them don't have access to the 3d printer. Also, the art students. I feel monies in my future.

    3D print me a 3D printer please.

  • It's great to see this tech spread so. I hope the machines continue to improve at a good clip all around and that the commercial nature of it doesn't overshadow what the maker community had done and continues to do to, to push the envelope of what these bots can do in the value space.

    Make no mistake I was not among them, and I'm still not much of a maker; but if you look at what was accomplished brining this technology to some kind of mainstream... It wasn't the big companies. It was the people doing what some of you are doing fabricating bots, taking them apart, figuring out how they work and why things aren't perfect. Half the experience of using any 3D printer is learning the inner details an quirks in your machine. It's like being a car owner in the early 20th century. This technology, one that will go on to shape a globe, and you're at the frontier making it work and dealing with the particulars.

    Now cars bleep-bloop and park themselves and tell you when your kids are sleeping or whatever, a family minivan can do 142mph on the Jersry Turnpike, and if you wanna do anything more than fill up the tank you need a certified mechanic to bill you $120 an hour to make sure it's a model they cover...

    Before us, is some uncertainty as to what will come of this technology, and, it probably will be a few years before things start to really shake out. I like it being simple. But let's make sure people take the classes, build their own, and tinker. We are the Makers, the tinkerers and the designers, the type of people who made the early work possible. The programmers and solder-kings, the queens of the extruders, or laser alignment as it goes. Let's make sure that we the user are not mindless consumers and have a say in how these machines shape the very future. Of everything.

    One day, in however many decades it will be a replicator, and not a Makerbot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer, but an honest to God Damed make you hot coffee or make you a pair of glasses or make you a loaded hand-Nerf-gun Gnee Roddenberry replicator. And that day either we'll all be part of that discussion or, we won't; and it'll be Xerox, Sony, Apple, Google, and/or whatever takes their places.

    But yeah. These are cool bots, even now. Think, today we make toys, maybe test some ideas or, whatever. It amazes me to no end to draw something up on paper, model it, and see it there on my bot's build plate that night... All details spot on I mean it's legit totes cray-cray amazeballs... Seriously. Anyway soon it'll be a lot more.
  • edited January 2014

    Did a small scan job the other day, got myself partially scanned afterwards. Using an Artec Eva. You won't get as good a result, as this, with a Kinect/ Primesense sensor bar.
    Post edited by Dazzle369 on
  • A friend of mine is the owner and technical wizard behind a new 3D printing shop in Berlin called Botspot. He's made an instant scan "booth" that takes 64 photos at the same time:


    It's pretty cool! They then print out little figure of you. Apparently two-person naked figurines are surprisingly popular.


    I think I'm going to get a little figure of me, so I can take photos of myself around the world.
  • I want one of those...
  • Frontrowcrew action figures. Hell yes.
  • edited February 2014
    @Luke_Burrage Those photogammetry setups are the best 3D scan setups to have!!!

    But they require so much hardware, you have to really make it you're number one thing.

    Like these amazing guys!! Infinite Realities.

    Combination of structured light projection and photogammetry they can produce real high quality scans. See their work!

    These guys specialise in scanning and printing figures, as kool as it is, it's not very profitable.

    Don't forget NEW YORK 2014: 12—15 FEBRUARY 3D print show.
    Post edited by Dazzle369 on
  • We got a Makerbot at work. Prepare for 3D printed things all over the place!
  • Oooooh! Hey, can you make some Guns of Icarus model files available?
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