Showing posts with label 3D Design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 3D Design. Show all posts

Monday, June 1, 2015

The rocking Horse - Video 7 of 3D Coat Experience

Hello again

3D Coat just released Version 4.5. It is no longer in beta. And, I have to tell you it is astounding.

The new PBR Shaders make finishing the completed objects so much easier to do. I have played with most of the major players in 3D software and they all seem to make things difficult unless you spend years learning their way. 3D coat designers seem to be very intuitive as to how to make things work in simplicity.

Okay.  Enough of that.  Lets talk about our current tutorial.

Rocking Horse - 3D Coat (No Texture)

The Rocking Horse.   

We all grew up with one.  And, many of us have one passed down by family.   Just as I've done in previous videos, I'll make our 3D rocking horse from a clip art base. The concentration of this video is in developing a discipline to your modeling structure. Order is always beneficial to the workflow. Coming back to a project, that perhaps had been set aside, it's easy to lose the inspirational momentum. But, it is easier if we understand the order of our modeling and use that progression to continue to move forward.

I'll deal with some common issues that I believe you will encounter, just as I have, in an attempt to relieve frustrations. I took my time in this so you may want to speed it up as you go through it and then watch it as you try to replicate your rocking horse. Feel free to use the clip art I have shared at the bottom of the post to work with the exact parts I did in this video.

The above picture is the end result from this tutorial. After the tutorial ends I go onto finish some of the detailing. And the image below is that result. I plan to add to this lesson how to apply the textures as seen in the video.

Rocking Horse - 3D Coat (With Texture)

So enjoy and we will be posting the next lesson very soon.

Thanks for the comments.  Keep them coming. 

feel free to use this clip art to go through the tutorial.

Clip Art used in the video

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Consider Moment of Inspiration to Create Objects for Your New Cube3

At YouthQuest Foundation, we like to use the phrase "Turn On YOUR Brain..." to describe our goals in introducing 3D design & printing to the "at-risk" students we strive to motivate.

Most new technology has worked to turn OFF our brains!

When we stop to think about it, most new technologies in the last 100 years have helped turn OFF our childrens brains as they mindlessly sit in front of TVs, listen to their iPods or sit through meals playing video games ignoring their environment.  And, yes, I know I was a part of encouraging very young children to play video games in the early 1980s.  Who knew where it would lead.  I feel a pang of regret every time I see a child entirely engrossed in their Game Boy while eating out with their family... sigh.

But, 3D printing is entirely different.  

It empowers our creative side in a remarkable way and encourages children and adults to come up with new ideas and solutions by providing an immediate way to turn those ideas into physical reality.  It truly does, "Turn on our brains!"

To do this most effectively, we need a link between our brains and our 3D printers.  There are many 3D  design application choices available today and the number is growing.  Some are very low in cost, such as Cubify Invent and others completely free.  But, a hidden factor in choosing a 3D design package is the long term level of frustration at being able to design what your mind envisions.  For a person new to 3D printing, just getting acquainted with a 3D package is work enough.  Going beyond the start up to consider the ultimate limitations of that package is next to impossible.

What Makes a Great Video Game Makes a Great 3D Design Package

Consumer Reports puts a lot of weight on cost when rating products.  In 1981, the Bally Professional Arcade, the game system with which I worked, cost more than double the chief competition, Atari.  Yet, the Bally Professional Arcade was rated  #1 by Consumer Reports in 1981.

The reason was that our games were designed by a team that understood that challenges were good; but, frustration was bad.  Challenging levels were a must.  But, when a player failed at a given level they had to feel they had learned from that failure and could improve on their next attempt.  If the failure was caused by the game's slow response or inability let the player do what was necessary to win it was totally frustrating.  To me, the Atari and Mattel game versions were totally frustrating due to poor response.  And, Consumer Reports agreed.

The same is true if a 3D design application is to become a joy instead of a hindrance to our brains being turned on by frustrating our efforts to turn our ideas into printable designs.  The 3D application must not stand in the way of our creative achievement.  It must not leave us frustrated by its limitations and quirks.

Why We Chose Moment of Inspiration for Our "At-Risk" students. 

There are many reasons why a student drops out of school.  But, a major reason is simply a low tolerance for frustration.  Dropouts tend to quit easily.  So, it was extremely important for us to introduce 3D design with a software package that didn't stand in the way of what they wee trying to accomplish.  It goes well beyond simply being easy to learn.  It must be reliable to use and provide a very low frustration experience for the user. 

That is why we chose Moment of Inspiration  not only for our high school level cadets; but, for our upcoming introductory short courses for low-income elementary children in Girls & Boys Club programs.  At the basic level it is very easy to learn, using our "Verb & Noun" approach.  Yet, students can progress very rapidly into being able to create quite complex designs using more advanced 3D CAD concepts.

We only have our Youth ChalleNGe cadets for about 34 hours over a 3 month period.  And, remember, these aren't the advanced placement students that one normally finds in 3D clubs in traditional high schools.  These cadets are lucky to be able to pass their GED!

Yet, they can and do achieve some beautiful and complex designs because Moment of Inspiration not only allows them to do so; but, doesn't get in their way!   These sample images represent what they could do, on their own, mid-way through the most recent 34 hour class session. 

Cadet Ornament 01

Cadet Ornament 02

And this sample was created by a cadet in one of last year's sessions.  Note how the cadet was not only able to create a working set of gears; but, to add their individualized unique features.  While all the students were given the same specification (tooth count, radius, etc) in the design challenge, they were encouraged to make theirs a unique creation.  Moment of Inspiration's Circle Array function really captures the student's attention as is evident in all of the samples.

Cadet Ornamental Operating Gears

This year, the big project was a custom clock.  The cadets were given the clock works and they were challenged to design a custom clock face that would both fit the constraints of the clock works dimensions and expressed their individuality.  The results were impressive. They made this one for the director of YouthQuest

Clock Face Created by DC Challenge Academy Cadets

Finally, while this particular sample was not created by a student, it represents similar objects that were created during the class.  Unfortunately, again, I don't have an image of any of the cadets objects.  But, theirs appeared equally complex.  Yet, it only took minutes to do in Moment of Inspiration.

MOI Sweep/Circle Array Sample

I decided to see exactly how long it takes to create a similar object from scratch in Moment of Inspiration.  This design took just 12 minutes to create.  I then assigned the colors.  Actual two color assignment would be done in the Cubify Client based on the color of the filament you are using.

12 minute Sweep / Circle Array / Loft & Revolve Object
The basic center was created by LOFTing through 4 circles. The ornamental rings were created with Revolve and Circles.  And, the outside 'ribbon' was created using a SWEEPing a 2D shape and then repeating it using CIRCLE ARRAY.

The VERBS (commands) and NOUNS (2D drawing tools) in Moment of Inspiration form a powerful combination that is able to quickly turn most of our ideas into 3D printable objects with minimal frustration and time.  It's well worth considering.

The above were created using Version 2.  Version 3 is even MORE powerful.

A free trial of the new Version 3 can be downloaded on the Moment of Inspiration site.  They offer educational discounts.  I have some introductory tutorials on YouTube and the links can be found on my 3D Moment of Inspiration Users blog.  I know you re going to love it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Suggested Methodology for Learning a 3D Application

I've been silent for a while because I've been creating a curriculum for teaching 3D printing for YouthQuest's 3DThinkLink Initiative.  Creating tutorials is moderately time consuming.  Creating a full curriculum is MASSIVELY time consuming.

While the new curriculum is focused on Moment of Inspiration, the methodology that came from creating it is useful when it comes to learning any new 3D application.

The technique is to treat 3D design applications as if we were learning a new language such as  English, Spanish or Latin and break down the interface into NOUNS and VERBS.  We then proceed, in steps, to introduce at least one new NOUN and one new VERB in each step of learning the application.

Nouns are THINGS, like circles, rectangles and ellipses.  Verbs are ACTIONS that we use to modify THINGS.

In our materials, we sometimes identify nouns and verbs by color code.  Nouns are red and Verbs are blue.

In general. sentences make sense when they have both nouns and verbs.  For instance, we "Wash the car", "Walk the dog" or "Extrude the circle."

The problem is that manuals generally present the 3D application's features in the order in which the interface presents it. Let's take Cubify Invent as an example.  The opening screen, in context of our assigning nouns and verbs, consists of only verbs!

It presents a series of operations or verbs like "Extrude", "Revolve" and "Sweep" without the benefit of a single noun (thing) on which these verbs can be applied.  The only nouns in the menu ribbon are reference objects like "Plane" and "Axis".

A person facing this interface without any experience can be excused for being very confused as to what to do to get started.  The key, of course, is to find out how we can create some nouns to use with the verbs.  In the case of Cubify Invent, we click on the "Activate 2D Sketch" button.

When we do this, the menu ribbon changes and one of the sections on the ribbon presents us with the NOUNS upon which the verbs on the first menu ribbon can be used.

While these nouns are presented in symbolic form, the icon buttons allow us to create real THINGS.  In the upper left we see the button that allows us to create the LINE noun.  The icon below the line allows us to create another noun, the CIRCLE.

We can begin exploring the application by determining that we will explore the application by learning a new noun (Circle) and then immediately apply a verb (Extrude) to it.   In this way, we learn the 3D application just as we learn any new language, by putting nouns and verbs together to create sentences that make sense.

In this case we create a CIRCLE (noun)...

and then we complete the 3D sentence by applying EXTRUDE (verb) to it.

If we were to write a sentence to remember what we have done we would see the noun/verb applicability.  "We have EXTRUDED a CIRCLE, creating a new Cylinder!"

We can then move on to either exploring applying other verbs to form new sentences or creating new noun/verb combinations.  This provides much needed feedback that let's us know early on that we CAN learn the 3D application.  Not only do we proceed in small steps; but, those steps demonstrate success early.

Learning by using a Noun/Verb methodology will also let us find those combinations that do NOT make sense.  For instance, it makes little sense to couple the single line noun with the extrude verb.  But, the best way to learn that is to try it and see what happens. 

It may seem like a quirky approach to learning a drawing program.  But, I'm convinced that it is an effective approach to learning any 3D application.  I hope you also find it useful.

With the experience of creating the curriculum for Moment of Inspiration nearly complete, I'm hoping to be able to turn my attention back to expanding our exploration of one of the Cubify 3D applications.  If that becomes possible, the noun/verb approach is the one I intend to pursue.

Let me know what you think.  Thanks.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Animating Cubify Sculpt Objects Just for the Fun of it.

I have a very old copy of COOL3D that at one time was marketed by Ulead.  Ulead ended up selling all their products to Corel, which appears to have abandoned COOL3D.  Too, bad, because while it is admittedly buggy and tempermental, it was also the easiest way to create animations and motion titles.

In fact, all the openings for the videos that I create for this and other blogs are created in COOL3D.

As I played around with Cubify Sculpt, I began to have some fun creating fantasy creatures and objects that really weren't as suitable for 3D printing as they are for useless; but, fun animations.

So, I decided to throw a few of them into COOL3D and see what would happen.  Here's the result.

Cubify Sculpt's DRAW CURVE and PIPE work together in a very powerful way to create unlimited ornamentation and/or appendages.  ALL of the characters and objects in the above video were made possible due to DRAW CURVE and PIPE.

The whole process was enormously enjoyable.  Expect to see more Cubify Sculpt creations finding their way into future titles or independent animations.  It's just too much fun not to do it!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sculpt Tutorial #7: Mashup - Unlocking the Power of Cubify Sculpt

OK, so we're getting things a little out of order here.  Tutorial #6 was suppose to go over the usefulness of changing the shapes of the primitives (Cube, Sphere, Cylinder & Cone).  But, I became so excited about extending that concept to creating NEW primitives that I just had to show you that first.  We'll get to #6 as soon as possible.  :)

First, a side topic that you may find interesting.

Before trying Cubify Sculpt, I tried any number of sculpting applications.  Each of them were decent.  And, among the best is Sculptress... IF you are a true artist!!!  I tried it again just to see if I'd learned something since trying Sculptris that had made it easier to learn Sculpt.  The answer is, "No!"

I was no better at Sculptris this time around.  It is DEFINITELY an artist's tool and not for me.  There is nothing wrong with the product.  I just get lost in it.

What that means...

It means that there is something fundamentally different about Cubify Sculpt that is making it easy for me to accomplish more than I have with any other sculpting program.

But, there is more!

I already understood that I was able to get more done and better with Cubify Sculpt.  But, then something dawned on me that blew the doors wide open.  And, that is that I do NOT have to create everything about an object from one single primitive.  I can save the basic primitives in multiple forms and bring them back into my working environment multiple times if needed.  And, THAT little realization boosted my ability to create with Sculpt exponentially!

It made it possible for me to create, in a reasonably short period of time, these Hippo models.  My granddaughter LOVES Hippos and I have been trying for YEARS to create a 3D Model of a Hippo that even remotely looked like one.  The proportions aren't perfect.  But, as you can see by this very short video that I made for her, they at least don't look like fat cows!  LOL!

The Breakthrough

The breakthrough for me was the realization that I do NOT have to create a form from a single primitive that is stretched and pushed into submission.  I can create PARTS as standalone pieces and then assemble those parts together as a MASHUP, or mixture of parts.

I could never, in a million years, have created the above hippos from a single shape.  But, by using different primitives for the body, head, ears and legs, the process was not only doable; but, relatively quick.

So, here is the process that I am talking about.... Tutorial #7, Mashup!

By the way, there is WAY more to cover when it comes to creating new primitives, like the Torus in this video.  I'm really excited to show you what that is all about in Tutorial #6... even if the order is a bit disconcerting!  :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cubify Sculpt - Yes, We CAN Do It!

It's a given that those with true artistic talent can use Cubify Sculpt to create art.  But, what about us.  What about NON-ARTISTS.  Will we be able to create items that even come close to creating anything even resembling art?

I have to tell you.  That was one of my biggest questions as I downloaded and installed Sculpt.

After all, over more than a few attempts at various sculpting applications, I had struck out on all counts.  I loved Cosmic Blobs and CB Model Pro.  But, try as I might, I never even came close to creating anything that remotely resembled a human head.

This short video answers the question in the affirmative in a huge way for me.  No, the head I was able to sculpt is NOT great.  But, it CAN be recognized as an attempt at creating a human head.  And, believe me that is a huge leap forward from all of my previous experiences.

Two factors, I think, helped me feel more confident about my ability to effectively use Cubify Sculpt.  The first is that the designers have come up with just about the perfect set of controls for non-artists.  There are not too few.  Nor are there too many.  And, each of the controls seems to complement the others.  It's not perfect.  But, it certainly is useful and relatively easy to learn.

The second factor is that I ordered and received the 3DConnexion SpaceNavigator.  Being able to quickly position the working piece is an enormous help.  Again, we cover that in this video.

If you, like me, are a non-artist trying to do artistic things, I hope that this video is an encouragement to you.

The results of our artistic pursuit does not have to be great to be rewarding and fun.  And, I had a LOT of fun trying to create my "Bearded Rustler" character from the default sphere.  He's rough, just like my rendition.  But, that's OK.  He's better than the last guy I tried to sculpt.  A WHOLE lot better.  And, that is why he was a rewarding project.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Cubify Sculpt and the SpaceNavigator

Good News!

The SpaceNavigator 3D Mouse device from 3DConnexion works well with Cubify Sculpt!!!

I had noticed that the Options Dialog had a tab for "SpaceBall Device".   Since I knew that the original SpaceBall had been discontinued, I asked Sculpt Support if that feature would work with the SpaceNavigator that seems to have replaced the original Spaceball.  They indicated that it would.

So, yesterday, I ordered the SpaceNavigator from B&H Photo and it arrived today!!!  That was a big surprise since I expected it no sooner than next Tuesday.  B&H Photo must have UPS trucks lined up at their loading dock because that was amazingly fast shipping from New York to Kensington, MD!''

I will include a short demonstration of the control that the SpaceNavigator provides in an upcoming tutorial.  It's going to take some practice to isolate just the motion I want without affecting other motions.  But, I can already see that it is a great investment and works quite well.  The speed with which it works can easily be controlled either from Sculpt or in the SpaceNavigator control form.

Control Includes...
  • Pan Up and Down
  • Pan Left and Right
  • Zoom In and Out
  • Spin
  • Tilt
  • Roll

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cubify Sculpt Tutorial #3: The Beauty of Emboss Area and Texture Maps

I mentioned Emboss Area and Text Maps in a previous post.  I expect to explore these two features in many more tutorials.  They are SO powerful and make adding ornamentation SO easy that it truly makes designing in Sculpt child's play!

When I first heard that the president of 3D Systems was committed to the democratization of 3D printing and design, it was difficult to know if it was a sales slogan or a fundamental core value.  With the introduction of Cubify Sculpt, I now know that it is definitely a fundamental core value and a true commitment.  Cubify Sculpt has the potential to bring 3D design to just about every age group and just about every level of technical competence.

As an educator that taught from 1st grade to high school students, I always hoped that someone would create a product that could be used at the elementary level as well as the higher grades.  While younger students might not be able to create great works of 3D art with Cubify Sculpt, I am convinced that the feature set WILL allow them to successful create nice objects to be printed on a 3D printer.

Cubify Sculpt has the potential to be a major tool for school projects in STEM, Art, Geography and other disciplines.  In this video we show how a simple 2D STENCIL and TOPOGRAPHIC MAP are easily turned into Texture Maps to create reasonably complex 3D features. 

As you can see, a simple paint program can be used to create a tool to be used with EMBOSS AREA to complement any shape.  The fact that Texture Maps WRAP make them particularly powerful.

Cubify Sculpt has exceeded my expectations in a HUGE way.

Cubify Sculpt Tutorial #2 - Setup and Potter's Wheel Simulation

I'm simply amazed that I have been able to actually complete some demonstration projects so quickly in Cubify Sculpt.  I can assure you that this would not have been possible in any of the other sculpting applications I've tried to learn in the past.

One of the first upgrade features that I asked for when I first opened Cubify Sculpt was the ability to manipulate the clay in the fashion of a Potter's Wheel.  Well, it turns out that we can do just that using some hot keys or, I hope, by using a Spaceball type of device.  I've been told that the SpaceNavigator device can be used to spin objects with one hand as the other is used to sculpt.  But, we don't have to wait until a SpaceNavigator arrives to test the concept.

It turns out that the ARROW KEYS can be used to spin the object a specified number of degrees and by holding down the ARROW KEY we can do so continuously.

Here is a video that shows the concept!

The image used for the video preview is the SpaceNavigator.  I have ordered one and should have it by next week.  I was under $100 and I am looking forward to seeing how well it works!

The combination of being able to start with an STL, like the chalice, which is VERY easy to create in a CAD program; but, slow to create in a sculpting application and the having the ability to quickly add features while spinning the piece is a VERY powerful capability.  The ARROWS and other Hot-Keys are good things to explore.

I love it!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cubify Sculpt - Emboss/Texture Maps: A Power Tool Combination

One of the problems I've had with previous sculpting tools I've tried is just how long it takes to make something useful in an educational setting.  If all we had were Push/Pull style tools, that would be true of Cubify Sculpt.  But, it's worth taking a look at the EMBOSS AREA tool and particularly the CUSTOM (with TEXTURE MAPS) option.

In fact, a good number are included with the Cubify Sculpt install, in the PATTERNS directory under the directory where Cubify Sculpt is installed.

Any black & white bitmap image having various levels of gray can be used with the Emboss Area tool.  The lighter the area, the higher the embossing action.  White areas will emboss the highest and black will not be raised at all.  The shades in between will be raised higher as the color moves to white and lower as the color moves toward black.


My main reason for exploring this feature so early is that a number of people have asked me about using the Cube / 3D Printing in an elementary school setting where the time allotted to teaching a 3D creation is limited.  At first, I was skeptical that Cubify Sculpt would meet that requirement,

But, the more I have explored the concepts of "TEMPLATES" (pre-designed basic shapes to be modified) and "Texture Maps" (pre-designed embossing stamps), the more I'm convinced that Sculpt would allow teachers to integrate 3D printing in just about any classroom.


From my high school days, one of my most consistent hobbies has been protozoology.  Some people watch birds, I watch protozoa.  In the late 1970's I taught Junior High Science and so it was natural for me to begin the exploration into how EMBOSS AREA could be used to provide a jumpstart for a student to design their own protozoa models.  For a future article, I will create a tutorial showing how the Texture Map was created and used.  But, for now here are images that show the Texture Map on the left and the final model on the right.

Amoeba Texture Map (Bitmap)

The above image was created in a 3D paint program.  Any, paint program can be used.  The important thing is that lighter areas will result in higher embossing and the black areas will not emboss at all.

Here is the above picture side-by-side with the resulting 3D object.

3D Amoeba Created From Texture Map

Here is another view that demonstrates the embossing a bit better. 

Amoeba Model at an Angle

The bumps in the surface were added after the emboss created the basic shape.  The embossing was done on the surface of a cube and then the cube was cut away using the REMOVE CLAY WITH BOX tool.  While the Texture Map was used like a stamp on the surface of the cube, there was still plenty of design modifications, such as lumps, bumps and indentations to the surface that the student could add.  Older students could have even created the Texture Map itself.  In fact, the Texture Map could even be created using a microscope image of a real creature!  Just convert the color image to black & white.

Finished Amoeba

The beauty in the fact that we can use gray scale images to create 3D features is that the images can be created in a variety of ways, including mathematically   Again, this isn't great art.  But, it DOES demonstrate the usefulness of Cubify Sculpt in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) program. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The NOT AN ARTIST Cubify Sculpt Tutorial!

It's a good thing that I don't embarrass easily.  Because, when people see what I'm able to achieve in Cubify Sculpt some are going to fall on the floor and laugh their heads off.   Yikes!

But, let's put things in perspective.

A LOT of us that are interested in 3D printing are not great artists.  We simply want to be able to have some fun and create some objects that we can print on our 3D printers.  My gift, if I have one when it comes to most 3D applications, is that I am tireless when it comes to trying to figure out how they work so that I can help others, with more artistic talent, become more productive faster.  I get the technical aspects if not the artistic aspects.  :)

As you may already know, the whole reason that I became interested in 3D printing was because my oldest daughter IS a very talented clay sculptor and it was frustrating to watch some of her best work crack in the kiln after weeks and months of work.  So, it was natural for me to explore 3D printing and 3D early sculpting applications... beginning with MudBox.

Now, there was nothing wrong with Mudbox.  But, it simply was not easy enough for either of us to be comfortable with it.   While we abandoned Mudbox, we clung to hope that we WOULD eventually find a virtual clay program that we COULD grasp.

I think we have found it.  And, that is Cubify Sculpt.  So, Cubify Sculpt is very important to me on a personal level.  I may not make great art with it.  But, I know some people who just might.

Admittedly my first samples are going to be crude.  But, they are nonetheless important in demonstrating to me just how important it is to pursue Cubify Sculpt as far as possible.  I've only had it a few days and am happy with where I am in the process of scoping it out.  Of course, I'm aiming a bit lower than I hope many of you are aiming.  And, I am looking forward to what YOU will be able to achieve in Sculpt.  But, here is my first attempts at creating with a goal in mind.

Potato Man

I knew that my best bet was to aim at creating something with big features.  Having consulted to Hasbro, I knew the perfect subject.  I love Mr. Potato Head!

Potato Man Created with Cubify Sculpt

Green Monster

I spend about a year working with a wonderful program for children called Cosmic Blobs.  While not a true Virtual Clay Sculpting program, it was wonderful at creating mythical beasts and funny monsters.  So, it was natural for me to see what I could do with Sculpt when it came to weird monsters!  Green ones, in fact.

Green Monster Created with Cubify Sculpt

Perhaps the reason I liked Cosmic Blobs and Cubify Sculpt is that I THINK like a seven year old!

Again, these don't put me up there with the best 3D artists in the world.  But, they do tell me that I can have a LOT of fun with Cubify Sculpt and, perhaps, eventually do some very nice things.

In the meantime, I will be exploring the tools in Cubify Sculpt and inviting any and all to come along for the ride.  So, here is Tutorial #1, Introduction.

P.S. I was very flattered to see that someone already gave this video FIVE STARS between the time it was uploaded a little while ago and just now as I selected it for this blog.  I hope that means that everyone interested in Sculpt will find it helpful!

I urge you to give Sculpt a try.  Be sure to look for the FREE STL files link on the Sculpt Download page.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Care and Feeding of the Cube 3D Printer (Video)

I've been wanting to create some better videos about the Cube 3D printer, itself.  This is the first attempt in that direction.

I have received a number of emails from users that have described this or that issue they've had with their Cube printer.  Some have had clogged heads and others have asked about the using the CubeStick glue to best effect.  This video covers the following topics...

Setting the Head Gap

Nothing will clog a 3D printer faster than when the print jet is hitting the print bed.  Yet, we need a very small gap to ensure that the first layer of filament is properly laid down on the print bed.  A TWO STEP process for setting the gap is demonstrated along with the paper I've found that works the best for me.

Applying CubeStick

One of the most challenging thing for me, when going to the new 2nd Generation Cube from the 1st Generation Cube was the different behaviors of the two different glues.  The first generation Cube used a heat activated glue and, frankly, was a LOT easier to use both before, during and after the print job.

I found that I was having a LOT of trouble getting parts to stick immediately after I'd cleaned the print bed.  And, I didn't realize that by trying to solve the problem by applying thicker coats of glue only resulted in transferring glue to the little rubber cap over the print jet... essentially gluing the flowing filament to the cap and not the bed.

Finding the proper gap helped.  But, finding a more reliable system for applying the CubeStick was the real solution.

A Tip When Changing Cartridges

For a long time, I created some problems for myself because I did not understand the correct timing for pulling on the filament when removing it to change cartridges.  When the Cube team explained the steps of the process that the Cube takes when removing filament, I came up with a visual clue for myself that allowed me to more easily go with the flow when removing filament.  The result is no more instances of broken filament inside the print jet!

The Correct Way to Insert the Cartridge

While teaching a 3D printing class at Freestate Challenge Academy, we had two different instances where the little metal contacts in the cartridge slot were broken as the student loaded cartridges.  From this experience, we learned two things.  (1) The correct process for inserting the cartridge and (2) how to solder in replacement contacts.  We will show the latter later.  But, for now, this video demonstrates the SAFE way to insert new cartridges to avoid the potential for breaking the contacts.

The Video...

This is the first of the videos that I hope to bring you regarding the Cube 3D Printer, itself.  As will be clear, I do not write a script.  So, you will hear some obvious errors... such as when I talk about lowering the head when I really mean the bed.  But, I'm trusting that the information is useful enough that you will forgive my slips here and there.  I have to do these videos and tutorials in the limited time that I have to do them.  So, perfection is NOT an option.  :)

I have made the difficult decision to use the YouTube "Monetize" option to help offset the costs of the investment required to bring a higher quality of videos to you.  I know that it's annoying. But, hopefully you will find some of the products and services advertised useful enough to click on at least some the ads.

That investment, by the way, included a new Panasonic HC-X920 video camera and new LED 100WA-56 / LED 200WA-56 lights.  I mention this because these products have only recently been introduced and some of my fellow members of the DPReview forums have expressed an interest in seeing how well they perform. 

If you have the bandwidth, try viewing the video in HD 1080p, to see why I feel that investment was well worth it.  I love this combination!

Well... with that said... here is my first 2nd Generation Cube video!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cubify Invent - Tutorial #10: Bolt with Helix Cut

Before attempting to learn how to create a bolt using the Helix Cut tool, I scoured the Internet to see what it takes in other bigger name CAD packages.  I also scoured the Internet for information about bolts and thread specifications.  So,  others unwittingly helped me as I tacked learning Cubify Invent's techniques for creating a bolt using actual specifications.

What I learned is that designing a bolt in Cubify Invent is actually EASIER than in many well-know CAD packages.  That's probably because they have a legacy interface.  I was surprised how easy it was to not only cut threads; but, to do so with precision.

Of course, the drawing is going to be a lot more precise than any extrusion printer can currently deliver.  But, that's OK.  3D technology that is expensive today will, one day, be affordable to home users.  So, all that precision will NOT go to waste.

Creating the bolt took place in steps.

STEP #1:  Create the Bolt Shaft

The first step in creating a bolt is to precisely create a blank shaft at the OUTSIDE specification for the bolt size you want.  In this case, the OUTSIDE of the threads would be .427".  Since we wanted a bolt having 1" length for the threads, we created a cylinder that was 1.276", allowing for the head depth.

Step #1: Bolt Shaft Extrusion

STEP #2:  Create the Bolt Head

The bolt that I measured as the model for the tutorial had a head that was .609" across and was .276" deep.  The MAKE DIMENSION option makes getting the sizing precise very easy.

Step #2: Bolt head Extrusion

STEP #3:  Chamfer the tip

Chamfering is the process of cutting an angle along an edge,  By, putting an angled edge on a bolt, it makes it easier to start.  In this case, we picked a random measurement of .075".

Step #3: Chamfering the Bolt Tip

STEP #4: Use REVOLVE CUT to shape the head.

This was actually the toughest process to design and implement.  The process involves designing a cutting tool that trims the top and bottom of the head as it is REVOLVED around the head.  The depth of this cutting tool had to be great enough to clear the pointed edges.  The great thing about Invent is that you can EDIT the cutter after you try it, so that corrections can be made with automatic updates to the result.  Nice!

Step #4: Forming the Head with Revolve Cut

STEP # 5:  Create the Thread Cutting Tool  Shape and Reference Line

Thread specifications include DEPTH and PITCH.  The depth is controlled by the size and shape of the tool used to cut the threads.  In this case we used a triangle that was .040" deep.  This number came from one of the many specification sheets that can be found on the Internet.

At the same time, we created the reference line around which the Helix will revolve. Creating a Helix, either BOSS or CUT, always involves a shape and a reference line.  The distance between the reference line and the cutting object determines the circumference of the Helix sweep.

Step #5: Create Thread Cutting Triangle & Reference line

STEP #6:  Cut the Threads using HELIX CUT.

Cutting the threads turns out to be extremely easy.  When Helix Cut is selected, a dialog asked for a number of parameters.  In this tutorial, all we needed to enter was the length of the Helix (1") and the PITCH of the cut.  The bolt modeled had a pitch of .060".

Step #6: Use Helix Cut to create the Threads

 STEP #7:  Finished Bolt.

Here is a picture of the finished result.

Finished Bolt


I hope this tutorial video shows that using HELIX CUT is relatively easy if we remember we need and object AND a reference line.  It was actually quite interesting to see how much easier this process was in Cubify Invent as compared to some other, more famous, CAD programs.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cubify Invent - Tutorial #5: Just Plane Fun With Planes

OK.  That is NOT a misspelled word.   I couldn't resist.  That play on words was just T-O-O-O good to pass up!

So, we are going to use planes to create a plane.  And, I think you will be quite surprised at how simple it is!

In the video I do something a little bit different.  I begin by using a different plane than my usual starting point.  That is because a REVOLVE ends up creating the very same object no matter which plane I used for the sketch.  So, by avoiding using the XY plane, it made it easier to see the features that we use to create the swept wing.

Also, I left in an aborted attempt at creating the tip of the wing.  It was the result of FAILING to click "OK" when creating the new plane.  

As I mention in the video, we have heard, over and over, the phrase, "Failure is NOT an option."  But, that is anything but true when it comes to learning a new software application.  Failures are not only common; but, an important and  necessary part of the learning process.  If one is afraid of failure, then learning is next to impossible. Thomas Edison is famous for embracing the positive aspects of failure when asked about his thousands of aborted attempts to find a material that could be used in his light bulb. 

Cubify Invent is not the first product, 3D and otherwise, for which I have created tutorials on the web.  And, every single tutorial was preceded by one or more failed attempts.  In fact, every Cubify Invent tutorial, so far, has been the result of multiple recording attempts aborted for any number of reasons.  Recovery from failure is what is important.

Perhaps I learned this from my high school participation in drama.  There was always someone missing a line that caused the other actors to ad-lib to bring us back on script.  And, that was reinforced in the years spent creating training, documentary and news videos where take after take is the norm.

Be patient with yourself as you try to learn Cubify Invent.  It is as if inertia must be overcome where things roll slowly at first and then rapidly pick up speed.  The trick is embracing the failures as the one sure path to successfully becoming a Cubify Invent expert.  :)

Now for the fun.  I hope you enjoy seeing what can be done with a few simple sketches on multiple planes.

Pretty cool, isn't it?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Cubify Invent - Tutorial #4: Planar Surfaces and Tangent Planes

One of the problems that we face when creating tutorials as we learn a product is that we can miss some things resulting in misleading information.  I'm guilty of doing just that.

I had previous thought that we were limited to creating our 2D sketches on planes.  Happily, that turns out not to be the case.  We can also create 2D sketches on any flat surface of a 3D object.  These flat surfaces are called PLANAR SURFACES.

In this tutorial we continue exploring the surfaces on which we can sketch by looking at planar surfaces and TANGENT PLANES.  A tangent plane is one that is created tangent to the surface of a curved surface.  Typically, this would be the wall of a cylinder.

As you may have seen in the video, once we select a plane, planar surface or tangent plane on which to sketch, we can begin sketching beyond the visible boundaries that we see,  For instance, we might chose a very tiny planar surface.  Yet, we can draw well outside the boundaries of that selected planar surface.  And, the same is true of a tangent plane.  We are not limited to simply drawing within the limits of the curved surface with which that surface was created.

The more I work with Cubify Invent, the more I see its potential.  I'm beginning to see that once the learning curve has been put behind us, this is not only going to be a powerful tool; but, an easy and quick tool.  That is a good feeling to have to anyone interested in 3D printing moving into the mainstream.  Nice.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Another User Review

DEELIP.COM has posted an excellent step-by-step article about their "Opening Experience" and a follow-up article about printing a shark that was downloaded from

Opening the Cube Package

The images are especially good at showing not only the contents that come with the Cube.  But, the LCD screen used to control it.  It's a MUST READ if you are interested in the Cube or afraid 3D printing is too complicated.  Here is a sample image from the article...

Test the Limits of the Cube - Printing the Shark

The first article was followed up by a second covering the printing of a hammerhead shark that was downloaded from  What is impressive about this test is the both the orientation and thinness of the fins.  Again, a MUST READ.


I have no idea if Deelip Menezes owns the company in India that is responsible for the programming and designing the Cubify site or simply works for them.  But, that relationship is stated right up front along with their complete lack of experience actually using a 3D printer.

And, it is success of printing in the face of Deelip's lack of experience with a 3D printer that is going to be indicative, I think, of all first time users.  The other common experience, for those of us with children or grandchildren, is enjoying how excited they are at being able to print their own objects.

Deelip captures this very nicely in a third article called The Joy of Creation.

I love Deelip's writing style and will provide a permanent link to their blog.

Nice job!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cubify Client Software - Introduction & Tutorial

My primary business for the past 30+ years has been as a software designer.  I've designed video games, children's activities, the first professional desktop video application for the PC and business applications.  So, I'm pretty hard to please when it comes to control structures in software applications.

Both the art and the work flow of the Cubify Client pass the test.  It's nearly perfect for it's intended audience and intended application.  They've done a nice job.

The Cubify Client, which can be downloaded from the Cubify web site, converts an STL file into code that the Cube 3D printer uses to print a 3D object.  There is a work flow that makes this job complete and the Cubify Client presents this work flow in an extremely clean and easy to use manner.

So, let's see what that work flow looks like.

As you can see, it's pretty hard to get lost with this software.  The one improvement I'd like to see is a feature that alerts us that the object we just imported is too large and offers to automatically fix it.  It's easy to see if the X or Y axis is too wide.  But, not so easy to see if the Z (Vertical Height) axis is out of bounds.  But, that is easily checked manually using the Object Information button.

Nice job!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Second "Included Print File" Printed - Shoe

Here is the completed Macedonia Shoe that was printed in Delaware over the weekend,  The top view does an excellent job of showing how smoothly the Cube prints contours.

Macedonia Shoe Printed on Cube - Top

From the side, we see how it deals with large areas and holes.

Macedonia Shoe Printed on Cube -Side

Notice that there was no raft and no support required to print this very complex object.  There was not sign of warping and the only hint of anything but SMOOTH can be seen in one tiny flaw best seen in this view.

Full side view

This little extra extrusion material was easily flicked off.  In a design this demanding, this kind of performance is astounding to me.

But, there is something else that should be mentioned.  To simply print out the included free creations as novelties would be a big mistake.  They are excellent opportunities for learning.  Freedom of Creation is a company having designers that are masters at designing for 3D printing.  It is highly informative to check on the progress of the print in an object created by them.  It will reveal some helpful hints at how to design so that rafts and support are not needed.

Opposite side view

In this shoe, there are some interesting INTERNAL features at the part where the ball of the foot would be and also where the top connects to the back end of the shoe.  It's worth studying these.

Internal Support designed into Shoe #1
The pad in the sole of the shoe (above) seems to be one of the keys to the lack of a need for support.  But, the most interesting thing for me was the upper internal support design.

Cantilevered Support Structure
Kudos to Freedom of Design for coming up with these innovative solutions to reducing the need for external support structures.  And, kudos for the Cube in being able to pull it off.

Click on any of these images to see a 21mpx image that is more than capable of revealing every flaw.  NOTHING stands out as even worthy of notice over 99.9% of the print. 

To See all of the images of the finished show go to..

The Cube Print Longwood Gardens Field Trip Slide  Show

I continue to be impressed.  Very impressed.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fume Question Settled for Me

Some legitimate question has been raised about ABS fumes and the Cube.

This is not a definitive answer.  But, it's the one that counts for me.

I did not mention a thing about smell or irritation to my family as I set up the Cube in my daughter's home.  I wanted to see what my family would say without any influence from me.

The Cube printed for well over 8 hours and not one of my family mentioned anything at all about any smell or fumes.

After we left for home, I directly asked my wife if she noticed any smell.  And, her answer was, "No."

I can't speak for everyone.  But, I do know that my wife and daughter have what I would consider very sensitive senses of smell.   If there was even a HINT of something obnoxious they would have noticed it.

It passed the test that counts for me.  And, while I know that is a completely subjective observation, it's the only measure that I can offer.

I hopes this helps those that might be concerned.  :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Can the Scope be Helpful in Other Ways?

I know that some of you are saying, "Come on Tom.  Things can't be as rosy as you've shown so far!"

And, you are right.  They can't.

The Cube, like any other 3D printer is laying down a series of layers of melted plastic that must adhere to the previous previous layer of plastic that may or may not be positioned directly under it.  Moreover,  that cooling layer is sandwiched between a hotter layer above it and a cooler layer below it.  There can be hundreds of such layers.  I've not seen ANY 3D printer that lays down layers that are perfect at all wall thickness or angles 100% of the time.

ABS is tough, has a feel to it that is a LOT more pleasing than PLA and just plain looks nicer.  But, it has a tendency to warp.  I've already mentioned that I would prefer to use ABS plastic in my other 3D printer.  But, I can't.  Without a heated bed, it warps so badly that I just can't use it.

I love the fact that the Cube has a heated bed.  But, that does not mean that in some circumstances a little warping might not occur.  When that happens, we will see a line that is different in the sides of our printed objects.

One of the reasons I designed my torture test with differing wall thickness and shapes is to see how the Cube/ABS combination performs under completely different circumstances in the same print run.  And, to learn from what I find to design things that avoid potential issues.

A finding is not "Good" or "Bad".  It's "What".

And, the "What" that shows up in my torture test is that wall thickness makes a difference.  That's not surprising to me.  But, if you are a new 3D printer owner, it might be a BIG surprise to you.  Let's take the "surprise" out of it by seeing what it is up close.

I have to apologize for this picture.  All I have here right now is an old Sony Bloggie with absolutely no control over the exposure.  Here is the part that has a wall thickness of 1mm, the thickest of the objects in the torture test.  (I'll replace this picture later with a clearer one)

Part with 1mm walls

As you can see, there is a layer that is not absolutely perfect.  And, that imperfection extends around the part from the sphere to the extruded triangle.  That is what warping looks like.  None of the thinner pieces showed this characteristic.

There is something else that is not so easy to see in this particular photo.  But, CAN be seen under the microscope.  This is the wall of the box from the top.  Notice that it is not solid.

Top of 1mm box

This is a behavior that I have seen over and over in my first 3D printer and in countless images in 3D discussion forums.  Certain thicknesses are more difficult for 3D printers than others.  The trick to avoid this is to know what thickness are optimal and which are not.  Obviously this has repercussions to the overall integrity of the object.

We know we can avoid this by designing our wall at .5mm or .75mm.  We can probably also avoid this by making our wall 1.25mm.  Remember, I said our findings aren't "Good" or "Bad".  They are "What" and the "What" in this case let's me know that I probably am better off avoiding 1mm walls in square boxes.

So, how might this have affected the overal piece?  The clue is to the bottom left and out of focus.  That is a single piece of filament that broke ranks and missed the corner.  And, it's right at the layer that shows evidence of warping.

Seen from the microscope's perspective, it's plain that this errant strand, probably allowed by the hollow wall, started the warping snowball.

Corner of warped layer

This is the picture of the corner and layer where that filament took a shortcut.  As I said, wall thickness DOES seem to make a difference.

But, here is something else that is interesting.  NONE of the prints of the twisted star show any signs of weakness or warping.  The wall is just a little thicker than 1mm.  And, a close look reveals another interesting bit of information that we can use to our advantage.  Not only wall thickness; but, wall orientation seems to make a difference.

Here we see the same wall in two different orientations.  Notice that the bottom orientation shows a different inner characteristic than that of the top orientation.  One seems more solid than the other.  I find that fascinating.

What this seems to suggest that if we have a part that seems prone to warping, etc.  We might just want to try it at a different orientation on the print bed.  I don't know for sure that this will cure the problem.  But, it certainly suggests that rotating the part in the software that we use to convert STLs to Cube files might help.

 In my case, it prompts me to go back into my 3D software and design an STL having several copies of this part with 1mm walls oriented in different ways to see if a different behaviour emerges.

This is a printer/plastic behavior.  Not  a printer/plastic problem.  It's a DESIGN problem.  

I consider that it's my job to use up filament chasing down design problems so that you don't have to!  :)