Showing posts with label 2D to 3D. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2D to 3D. Show all posts

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cubify Capture Announced - Image to 3D

I almost missed this one in a timely fashion because I have been focused on the Cubify Blog.  But, it was released on the 3D Systems news page.  The press release is titled...

While I hate simply cutting an pasting any press release, I have to at least post some snippets of the release because it contains some very intriging information about a process that is similar to something I have used before.  I'll explain after cutting and pasting...
"ROCK HILL, South Carolina –January 9, 2013 – 3D Systems  (NYSE:DDD) announced today that Cubify Capture, a new portal service that allows users to upload photos and videos from their digital, smartphone or tablet camera to its destination and automatically transform the images into 3D models, will be demoed at CES, January 8th – January 11th, 2013, in the Las Vegas Convention Center in the Main Hall, booth 15447."
Ok.  So far, this seems to be a service similar to 123D Catch, which I wrote about earlier this year. The idea is to take a series of pictures, while moving around an object.  Then you upload those pictures to a cloud service and it produces a 3D object from those images.  But, as the press release goes on, it appears that there is one HUGE difference for Cube and other 3D printer owners.
"The company plans to expand the services of its Cubify Capture portal to include a full suite of thematic scan-to-print web and mobile apps. Users can capture on the go and upload pictures or video to where a 3D model is generated automatically and saved in the user’s Cubify account. These 3D models can be used for further modeling, customizing or fusing with other elements and readied for printing at home or through Cubify cloud printing, in monochrome, durable plastic or full color."
Here where I believe the two apps go their separate ways.  While I have managed to eventually get a 123D Catch object to print, the surfaces that it produced were very poor for 3D printing and required a LOT of patching to produce anything close to useful.  It appears that Cubify Capture is designed from the ground up to produce printable 3D objects!  I talk about the laborious process I had to go through to print a 123D Catch object on this blog entry titled "From point & shoot camera to cube printer,"

If you can get past the creepy disembodied plastic head, which I used to refine my portrait lighting skills, you'll see that it took a bit of effort to go from 2D images to 3D print.  Even so, the fact that I could do it at all was amazing to me.  Cubify Capture sounds like icing on the cake!

I can hardly wait to see the results when it's finally up and running for all of us.  And, in this regard it looks like they will be releasing a beta of the initial app in a suite of apps, according to these two paragraphs. 
"The company plans to develop a series of Cubify Capture apps starting with Cubify Capture: Faces, designed specifically to capture facial features and seamlessly turn them into customized 3D printable memorabilia. Cubify Capture: Faces for mobile will also be demoed at CES.
'We’re thrilled to invite users and educators to explore and experiment with the beta release of Cubify Capture, the first true real-world-to-print capture tool,” said Cathy Lewis, CMO, 3D Systems. “We are excited to see what our growing Cubify community will capture and print.' "
You can bet that I will be watching for that beta to be released.  And, the minute I spot it I will let you know.  The more of us that pound on that app, the better it will be.  Being able to simply capture something with a simple camera and then having it be able to be printed out on our own Cube's or in color on Cubify's Cloud printers is an awesomely useful idea!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2D to 3D Print - Sparky the Fire Dog

I thought it would be helpful to show a second 3D print that originated as a series of standard photographic images.  This time I printed out Sparky the Fire Dog.

Sparky is a large remote control vehicle that fire departments use at events to help them teach children fire safety.  Here is one of the images that I took at the Montgomery County Fair (Maryland).

Sparky The Fire Dog R/C Vehicle

There are some interesting things about this subject.  For instance, aside from Sparky, himself, most of the features are relatively shallow.  Also, the crowd passing by means that the background scene changes, at least to some extent, in every image.  I was pleased that the 123D Catch engine seemed to be able to sort this out and find points with which to stitch the images together.  Finally, the light on the top of the car is semi-transparent and that DID give the 123D Catch engine a bit of trouble.

Here is the video that shows the resulting 3D object rotating in space of my first attempt to capture Sparky.  Only 6 images were successfully stitched in my first attempt.

Fortunately, I was able to go back to the fair and take another series of images.  This is the result of the second attempt.

As you can see, this one was MUCH better than the first.  And, it is this "Catch" that I used in my 3D Printer test.  Notice, however, that the light on the top still gave the engine some problems, creating some holes in the mesh.

Here is the final print done on my RapMan 3.2.  The Cube would produce a smoother outcome.  But, this is good enough to show you that it is possible to create and print a 3D model of real objects without having to draw a thing!

Sparky The Fire Dog - 3D Print
Considering the shallow features, the issues raised by the semi-transparent lights and the issues my current 3D printer has with the "Y" axis slipping, the result is quite remarkable.  And, it can only get better as the 123D Catch engine is improved, my expertise with clean-up improves and I get to use the Cube to create the final print.

Monday, May 14, 2012

From Point & Shoot Camera to Cube Printer

Some time ago, long before I knew about the Cube, I became interested in a program by Autodesk that purported to turn a series of 2D images into a 3D object.  When I began using it, the program was called PhotoFly.  They later folded the PhotoFly project into their 123D initiative, which is a suite of 3D programs designed to be easy for users.  It's now called 123D Catch.  Right now it can be downloaded as a beta.

In experiments, while the technology was a lot of fun, it turned out that the mesh that it created wasn't absolutely clean.  So, there was some question as to how useful it would be for the real application that I'd hoped to use it for... 3D printing.

Last week, the topic came up in the Bits From Bytes forums and I decided to give 123D Catch an opportunity to see if I could come up with a way to use it with a 3D printer.  This post is about that experiment. 

First, let me show you 123D Catch in action and explain how it works.  It starts with a series of photographs like this one...

And then we bring all of the photographs into 123D Catch.

123D Catch Application
At the bottom of the 123D Catch application you see the series of photos.  At the risk of further confirming to my neighbors that the guy next door is more than a little nuts, I set up a hairstyling manikin head on the rail of the porch of the back yard studio and shot a series of images while walking around the head.  (I know what you are thinking.  But, it's all innocent enough.  I used the head to perfect studio lighting techniques many years ago. LOL!)

Bringing the series of images into 123D Catch, the program calculated the position of the camera for each shot and then stitched together the images to create a 3D model.  From the front it looks like it did an excellent job.  But, that is only partly right.  As seen from this rotated view.

Holes in the 123D Catch Mesh
The problem is that 123D Catch has issues with dealing with hair.  It cannot seem to find stitching points because hair just does not give it enough differentiation.  This is a problem.  Here is a side view that shows the confusion.

The hair has confused 123D Catch so much that it maps grass onto the head!  Obviously, this is NOT going to do all that well in a 3D printer.  A 3D Printer needs a "Watertight" mesh to print well.

Fortunately. we have a solution.  We export the 123D Object into a format that can be read by a wonderful free program called NetFabb Studio Basic.  NetFabb's job is to find and fix problems with mesh and to export a clean STL file for printing.  When we bring it in, the offending holes are clearly visible.

NetFabb on Entry

A huge warning sign tells us that we have a problem that needs to be fixed.  Clicking on the "+" sign brings up a dialog that allows us some options for fixing the mesh.  Here is the resultant fix.

NetFabb Fix
As you can see, the hole in the back of the head has been filled.  It's not perfect.  But, at least it allows us to export an STL that we can print.  And, that is pretty remarkable considering how big those holes were!

So, how did it print?  Take a look.

Original Photo
RapMan 3.2 Print of 123D Catch Object
Frankly, I was skeptical so I first printed it very small to see if it was even usable.  I was astounded by the fact that it so closely resembled the original!  So, I printed it out much bigger and was even more impressed.

Frankly, I'm astounded by the result.  It even got the hair flip!  The nose probably could be a bit better.  But, who's complaining.

What this means is that we will be able to create 3D prints on our Cube 3D printers of our loved ones!  I plan to capture my grandchildren this weekend.  Because the 123D Catch engine has issues with hair, I will try to add something that gives the engine something to lock onto like a colorful hat or ribbons.  This is no small deal and it is capabilities like this that will go a long way to winning over the 3D printing skeptics!

I'm certainly a believer.  :)

NOTE:  I expect the Cube print to be noticeably cleaner than what you see in these images.