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It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about 3D printing news!

Formlabs just posted a blog post yesterday about how they 3D printed a lens for a monocle.

Formlabs Monocle

Monocle frame and lens printed on Form 1+ 3D Printer. Photo by Formlabs.

I’m really curious about its optical resolution. We might be really close to being able to print lenses for glasses!

Time to get back on my 3D Print Your Own Glasses project.

So Shapeways recently introduced Full Colored Plastic as a new printable material. I was super excited to try it out.

Compared to Full Color Sandstone, Full Color Plastic is stronger. The colors don’t fade with exposure to water.

We have tested this by submerging the FCP models in water for 2 months and the colors stayed the same. No color bleeding. ~Shapeways Customer Support

However, it also cost about twice as much per cubic cm, which comes out to a lot.

I printed a smaller version of my ArcheAge figurine. Here’s the result!full color plastic

Overall I’m a little disappointed. The resolution wasn’t super great and a lot of the colors didn’t come out.

You can really see the stripes and spots on the arms and legs. There was also a white graininess to the whole figurine.

full color plastic

Full Color Plastic

Full Color Sandstone

Full Color Sandstone

To be fair, my Full Color Sandstone version is about 4 times bigger than Full Color Plastic version. My hunch is that even if I scale the plastic version up, the white graininess won’t go away, and the colors will still be a lot lighter.

Due to the price, the sandstone version still cost less than the plastic version, despite the size increase.

Summary:

Pros:

  • Can print smaller / thinner models than Full Color Sandstone
  • Colors won’t fade with exposure to water
  • Stronger; thin parts are flexible

Cons:

  • More expensive than Full Color Sandstone
  • Have a white grainiess
  • Colors are a lot lighter / less saturated
  • May not have as great resolution

For future prints, I’d probably limit gradients and shading, and stick to sharp contrasting colors.

Here’s my 3D print of a Firran from the video game ArcheAge.

I was super lucky to be in the Closed Beta 3 and decided to use this gorgeous game to continue my experiment on 3D scanning virtual worlds.

Instead of using the in-game models for 3D printing, I took a lot of screenshots and reconstructed a model using photogrammetry.

screenshot from ArcheAge

screenshot from ArcheAge

3D scanned reconstruction

3D scanned reconstruction

Above shows one of screenshots I took and the 3D scanned reconstruction. As you can see, there’s some detail loss, but overall, it’s pretty good.

I made the Firran sit as to lessen the idle animation, so I could get a consistent pose.

I used Autodesk 123D Catch instead of VisualFSM and Meshlab (like in last 3D scan) because the surface reconstruction was a bit better. My intuition tells me the point could generation (turning photos into point clouds) is the same as VisualFSM, but the surface reconstruction (turning point clouds into 3D models with surfaces) is a lot better. Though, that’s a gut feeling without proof.

My initial impression of 123D Catch it is very easy to use and gives you nice renderings. However, it’s slow. There’s also no point in using the desktop version since it requires you to sign in through the Internet, just like the web app.

3D scanned world

To create the 3D scan, I uploaded 35 screenshots of the scene to 123D Catch. Here’s an overview of the result. Since I focused on the Firran in my screenshots, the environment reconstruction is not as great. Also, since I wasn’t able to capture a complete 360° view, some parts are lacking details.

3D print model

For 3D printing, I cropped the model and thickened the thin parts (like the hilt of the sword).

It came out great!

ArcheAge

ArcheAge

This 3D print success proves 3D scanning and photogrammetry techniques can be applied to virtual worlds.

[Updates on the project here]

3D Print Your Own Glassesglasses shot

I wrote a little script to 3D print your own glasses. You don’t need much modeling skills. Just load up the script in Blender and load up your SVG (scalable vector graphics, like JPG except vector format). It’s going to do the 2D to 3D conversion for you (complete with nose pads) in just a few clicks!

You can play around with all sorts of designs!

Algorithm

*The algorithm has been updated based on actual glasses specs. I’ll write about that later. Below is the original algorithm.

Seth Taylor glasses

I started with the black SVG you see above (made by Seth Taylor).

algorithm

Since I don’t have any specs, I estimated (based off of my own glasses) that the bridge is about 16% of the entire length of the frame and protrudes out a little bit.

The nosepad area I estimated to be 16% around the bridge, and the midpoint between the bottom of the bridge to the bottom of the frame would be where the bump of the nosepad was.

The entire frame also has a slight blend.

Results

more glasses picsresults!

I think it came out pretty well!

I would probably lessen the bend in the bridge and increase the protrusion of the nosepads.

Directions

Download the script from my Github and download Blender. I’m using version 2.70 but any future version should work fine.

If you’re already familiar with Blender, then just load up the script, select your imported SVG, and run!

If you’re not, here are more detailed steps.

opening screen

When you open up Blender, hit Scripting to open up the scripting windows.

scripting windows

Press X on the cube to delete it.

delete cube

Press Open to open up the downloaded script.

open up the script

Load your glasses SVG.

load your SVG

Your SVG might be very small so you’ll have to zoom in a lot to see it (scroll up to zoom).

tiny SVG

With the SVG selected, hit Run.

run run run

Viola! Export your glasses as an STL to print.

print those frames!

Design Notes

The 3D glasses might not be the right size, so you might have to scale it. Also, this script might not work great for thick frames, or really weirdly shaped frames, since I assume symmetry and based the parameters around the thin frame above.

There’s some small tweaks I still gotta do.

Try it out! Let me know.

Software Notes

If you’re code savy, feel free to make pull requests. The project is free/open source under GPLv3+.

So, I’m probably waay late to the party, but I recently discovered MeshMixer.

It’s a neat little software that has tons of features. It’s not a full modeling suite like Blender, but instead focuses on a few 3D printing related tasks.

I tested Meshmixer out by loading up Rakdos (a high polygon mesh), and it loads super fast!

One features it has is the ability to digitally sculpt, much like ZBrush or Sculptris.

Sculpt

Another is mesh repair.

Repair

I tried repairing Rakdos, but the result didn’t fix the inverted vertices. I suspect it works fine for simpler meshes, since Rakdos is a known problematic mesh.

Meshmixer also supplies an array of neat analytics.

Strength

It can also generate supports.

Supports

Based on the settings, I suspect it uses an angle based approach to generate the supports (like, give a support if face is less than 25 degrees off of the X plane.

This may also have been MakerBot’s algorithm in the early days. However, there are more sophisticated support generation algorithms out there, so I’m not overly impressed (FormLabs does a physics simulation in their generation!)

Mixing

However, I am impressed by its mesh mixing ability. You can very easily combine two meshes together and it joins very smoothly.

It also supposedly has way better boolean combines than Blender.

Overall, I like Meshmixer. It does some things ok, and other things really well. I really wish it was open source though… then again, if it was, it might’ve not been bought by Autodesk.