Tuesday, 5 January 2010
Adventures in Rapid Prototyping
Happy New Year! A slight change from our usual subject matter here. I had a bit of free time over the holidays, so I decided to try out this 3D printing technology all the cool kids are talking about. I had visited the Shapeways booth at Siggraph, and was impressed with their sample models, so I decided to try out their service (they're based in the Netherlands, so they're pretty convenient for here in the U.K.). Not having a huge amount of modelling skills, I chose to try and recreate Kay Bojesen's classic monkey sculpture, which has the advantage of being mainly constructed out of geometric cylinders and spheres! The trickiest part is that you have to provide them with a polygon mesh which is completely water-tight and manifold, which is easier said than done in Maya. Anyway, the results can be seen above. It turned out amazingly well, you can see a bit of stair-stepping (physical aliasing?) but every tiny detail is visible (I kind of wish I'd smoothed the mesh more). The material is surprisingly hard and has a rough finish. I would recommend Shapeways' service, although it's a little expensive - this little guy was $15. They also have an amazing new stainless steel material which would be fun to try out with a smaller model.