Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

3D Modeling and Scanning

This week, we explored 3D modeling and made our first 3D print. I had some experience with TinkerCAD modeling, but I had never printed before, so I was excited to see the process of going from model to physical object. Fortunately, the printing software is automatically able to add supports to any design; I would emphasize this point to any classmate going through the process so that they don’t waste time adding supports to their model. 

Geometric process (TinkerCAD):

I addressed prompt #2, creative flatware design. My point of view was aesthetic-based; I was inspired by a set of flatware designed by Salvador Dali that combined metallic leaves, petals, and stems to create a gorgeous, organic-looking set. I wanted my flatware to be a conversation piece and aesthetically pleasing above all else. My storyboard below depicts someone dreaming up creative decorations for an upcoming party, and choosing my utensils as an accent to the party theme. 

In my storyboard, I was able to communicate my design much more clearly than in TinkerCAD, due to the limited amount of shapes in the modeling program. The design I settled on in TinkerCAD was two pieces: a flower-shaped spoon and a hybrid fork/knife with tree branches as the fork, and an arrowhead as the knife on the opposite end. 

In addition to operating the software, I learned about material options. The Fab Lab uses PLA and ABS, each with different useful properties, such as sticking to itself well while printing. I also learned about the scale of prints; even if objects looks far apart enough in the 3D model, the printer nozzle may merge two thin lines together due to its limited size. This is what happened to my printed fork/knife, pictured below. If I were to design another version, I would make the fork have fewer, thicker branches, and the entire object would be thicker and more durable. 



Organic process photos:

Of the three softwares we explored in class, I definitely found Sculptris to be the most challenging. Over time, I learned that a stronger, wider brush was best suited to molding specific shapes, while narrower brushes were more suited to fine detail work. I again followed prompt #2, opting for dishware this time. My vision was a triple fondue bowl that would sit above a common flame holder, but adding rectangular shapes proved very difficult in Sculptris. The process photo below features only the triple-bowl aspect, but if I were to 3D print this, I would add structural supports and a flame holder in TinkerCAD, which is better suited to geometric models. 


Scan process photos:

Since I found TinkerCAD to be the easiest software to work with, I imported my scanned model into a new workspace for editing, and decided to add a flower crown. One pitfall of the KINECT scans is the hole in the head. It seems like there is a trade-off between capturing the model’s head or chin due to the nature of the scanning technology. 


The final model is pictured below.


I really enjoyed our 3D printing unit. While it’s fun to make aesthetically pleasing objects just for fun, modeling and scanning seems extremely versatile and useful for making custom parts, inventions, and even prosthetics. Of the class projects we’ve done so far, I feel that I have the most room for improvement in this unit. All 3 of my design methods could be improved significantly with another iteration, whether by making the object larger, performing a more thorough scan, or increasing my comfort level with the Sculptris software. As always, I had a lot of help from Duncan and the other Fab Lab staff members who walked me through the steps of getting my model printed.