Student Post: Replicating Real Life

Another awesome thing about 3D printing is that you can replicate things that already exist without having to rebuild them from scratch. Using 3D scanning technology it is possible to digitize existing objects and then bring them back in to the physical world with a 3D printer. This is one of they things I am attempting to do this semester with a Duke Dog statuette. For the JMU Centennial 10 years ago, a number of statuettes were created (see here), one of which now goes out to various events throughout the year. This statuette is getting quite old and beat up, and would be very expensive to recreate with traditional means since the original molds are gone. So using 3D scanning and printing we are hoping to be able to create something that may be able to replace this Duke Dog.

At the beginning of the semester we did a few 3D scans with a Structure Sensor scanner on an iPad. These scans turned out surprisingly well and I have been slowly trying to clean them up and make the model look alright (but I’m not an artist so…). The original statuette is quite large and certainly too big to print in one piece on any printer we have, and even Shapeways cannot print it at full size. So the goal is to come up with a good way to cut the model into parts so that each part can be printed at larger scale and then assembled into a full-scale model that is larger than a single print volume.

My initial cut method did not use flat planes and the pieces did not join very good along the seams so there are quite large gaps. However, it did work for creating a model larger than a single print volume. It also allows for the parts to be printed in different orientations that do not need as much support material and don’t mar the surface of the model as much as a single piece print. The issue of supports and poor surface quality is not a big deal if we were using something like Shapeways, but for the purposes of prototypes it is more important to consider.

Here are pictures of the first pieced together print that I did from my initial cut method. I am working on finding a better method for cutting that will not create such bad seams and will allow the parts to fit together better. Having flat interface surfaces between parts will also allow me to hopefully create alignment pins so that orientation when assembling is not an issue. Being able to cleanly hollow the parts is also a goal so that we can reduce the cost of printing with a service like Shapeways.

Until next time… — Quincy Mast

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