A Brief Introduction to 3D Printing and Scanning
Who better than Jay Leno to demonstrate the phenomenal capabilities of 3D printing and scanning? Check out the 7-minute video below and watch your jaw hit the floor:
For those that don’t have that kind of time, here’s a teaser in three easy steps and $20,000 dollars:
STEP 1: SELECT AN OBJECT
STEP 2: SCAN THE IMAGE WITH A 3D SCANNER
For the [comparatively] low price of $2,995 usd, you can purchase the #1 selling 3D scanner on the market from NextEngine. The scanner uses lights and lasers and to record the colour, size and shape of an object with accuracy to 0.005 of an inch. NextEngine claims their scanner rivals the quality of their competitors which sell at 10x the cost.
The finished scans are transferred to your computer in a variety of useful formats (STL, OBJ, VRML, XYZ) for other 3D applications from animation to printing. The sample videos below show the NextEngine 3D scanner in action:
STEP 3: USE A 3D PRINTER TO MAKE YOUR WILDEST FANTASIES COME TRUE
Like NextEngine, Dimension-brand 3D printers by Stratasys are the #1 seller in the category. With an introductory model (uPrint) now available for $14,990 usd, 3D printing is slowly entering the consumer market. Dimension 3D printers use an additive process where an object is created from nothing, layer by layer, as opposed to a subtractive process where an object is ‘carved’ from a block or larger piece, with layers being progressively removed.
Here’s our little wrench being ‘printed’ in time-lapse awesomeness, and YES, moving parts and gears can be printed all at once:
How does the 3D Printer work?
Dimension builds functional 3D models from the bottom up, one layer at a time with tough, durable acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic. STL files from a 3D scanner are imported into Catalyst EX Software which automatically slices and orients the parts and creates any necessary support structures. The software automatically plots a precise deposition path for Dimension to follow. ABS plastic (in filament form within auto-loading cartridges in a variety of colours) is fed into an extrusion head, heated to a semi-liquid state and accurately deposited in layers as fine as 0.007-inch (0.178 mm) thick. After completion of the build, support structures are simply removed.
The Future is Now
The possibilities these two machines provide are certainly impressive. Not only can you recreate old parts from vintage automobiles and machines with incredible accuracy, but you can test out new designs and products to see how well they work and function. This method of prototyping will surely assist smaller designers and builders compete with the larger players. Again, we find technology helping individuals and small companies continue to innovate on smaller budgets and fewer resources. We have already witnessed the impact affordable technology has had on the music and film industry, it will be fantastic if this kind of 3D printing and scanning can do the same for industrial design and fabrication.
If you enjoyed this article, the Sifter highly recommends: yellowBird’s Fully Interactive 3D Video Technology