Showing posts with label 3D Printing and Creativity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 3D Printing and Creativity. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pinhole Camera - 3D Printing & Creatively Recreating Classic Film Fun

I love blogging because it puts me into contact with passionately creative people.

Last night was a case in point.

A young man named Paul emailed me about his step-father's 3D printing project on Kickstarter.

It wasn't a new 3D printer.  It wasn't a new highly technological marvel of never-before-conceived innovation.  It wasn't even a $10 breakthrough in scanning technology.  But, it still got me excited at seeing what 3D printing can do.

Now, this post is not specifically about something created on a Cube 3D printer.   But, I still think it is entirely appropriate to be discussed on these pages.  That is because this project perfectly illustrates that 3D printing can permeate every level of our existence in ways that bring satisfaction even in simplicity.

The Kickstarter project is a 3D printed pinhole camera... revitalizing old technology through new technology!

Clint O'Connor's Kickstarter campaign set modest goals and exceeded them in short order.  There is a reason for that.  Not only is the concept creative; but, the entire Pinhole Kickstarter presentation demonstrates a level of understanding of the search for emotional and intellectual satisfaction that drives creative people.

He not only presents the object that he has designed and prints.  He digs deeply into the emotional and aesthetic  benefits of his own passion... pinhole photography.  To me, this is exactly what the entire 3D printing experience is all about, finally being able to bring into reality tools that benefit our psyche.  One only has to see the image of the Queen Mary to understand why Clint is so taken with pinhole photography.  Very cool.

I plan to use Clint's Kickstarter page in my classes with "At-Risk" students because he presents one of the most powerful lessons that 3D printing can teach us.  Failures are not final.  They can be  simply steps on the way to final success.  Clint's picture of his 35 iterations makes the point loud and clear.

Clint O'Connor's Pinhole Camera Design Iterations

Until they are exposed to 3D printing, most of the former high school dropouts that I now teach through YouthQuest Foundation's 3D ThinkLink Innitiative have felt that failures define us in entirely negative ways. It really is remarkable to see them realize that if their initial design is less than perfect, they can easily do a redesign and print a better one.  I am thankful to Clint for communicating this on his Kickstarter page.

I don't yet know if his design can be printed in the Cube's 5"x5" print platform.  But, I do know that I want to try one of his pinhole cameras.  It's the kind of thing that keeps those nearing 70 feeling young again!  I plan to have some fun reliving my youth... a time when pinhole cameras were very popular.  Sounds like fun! :)

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. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

3D Printing is about Growing Creative Brains

Anyone that thinks 3D printing is simply about printing plastic things, is so off target that it makes you believe that if anyone needs one, it's them!  LOL!

Ask ANYONE that has a 3D printer and you will quickly learn that what 3D printing is really all about is unleashing the creative potential that lies in every single human being's brain.

Yes, this blog is about the hardware and the tricks to designing and printing better pieces of plastic.  But, my major goal, for talking about a consumer 3D printer that is easy to use by both parents and children, is to enlighten parents and children on the benefits of having a 3D printer as a facilitator of creativity and discovery.

While I am not an expert on creativity, I am a student of the brain and the creative process.  And, I'm constantly looking for excellent books on the subject.  I just finished the one I will be telling you about today and am in the middle of another that I will mention at the end of this post.

Secrets to a Creative Mind by David Judd Nutting

Putting aside the rather scary looking cover, this is an excellent book by a man that I greatly admire.

Secrets to a Creative Mind

I have been very fortunate in my career to have worked with amazingly creative people.  And, at the very top of that list is not only Dave Nutting; but, the team he put together.  It takes a brilliant person to attract the kind of people that Dave inspired and mentored.

I worked with Dave when I was with Astrocade, which made and marketed the Bally Professional Arcade in the early 1980s.  Dave and his team had originally created the Bally home game system and remained the core design house for both hardware and software after Astrocade it over.

By the way, before that Dave designed the very first SUV, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer...

Jeep Grand Wagoneer Design by Dave Nutting
The Enstrom  Helicopter....

Enstrom Helicopter Design by Dave Nutting

And, perhaps most famously, the very first electronic pin ball game... Flicker...

Flicker - The First Electronic Pin Ball machine design by Dave Nutting

Working closely with Nutting Associates, I got to see and experience, first hand, just how creative Dave and his team were.  Though I know and have worked with people like Nolan Bushnell of Atari fame and incredibly creative  teams at Hasbro, Time-Life software and my current "day job", none eclipsed Dave Nutting and his team for sheer brilliance.

So, when he talks, I listen.

This is a book that can be read in a few hours.  And, in fact, he suggests that this is the best way to digest what he is trying to convey to help us tap into the creative potential in ALL of us.

Yes.  You CAN make yourself smarter.  Yes.  You CAN raise your IQ.

Dave's first book "Language of Nature" was about understanding the Quantum World that includes the wonderful randomness of nature that makes each of us unique individuals. 

This second book applies the principles of Quantum Physics to the creative process.  Where other self-help books might talk about the power of positive thoughts, this book tells us WHY and HOW to talk to and guide your sub-conscious with your rational mind to seek answers to complex problems.

Now, don't let the "Quantum Physics"  buzzword drive you away.  Dave explains everything in very simple, easy to understand terms.

I won't go into detail about the rest of the contents of this book, except to say that it fits the way I solved the problems that I face in creating the new designs that I post on this site.  Designing to avoid rafts and supports is not always easy.

But, where does the 3D printer come into all this.  Why am I SO convinced that combining Dave's technique with 3D printing has a multiplying effect?

It's because 3D printing helps us cycle our design mistakes faster.  Our mind conceives an idea and we can instantly test it and re-evaluate that idea in a tangible way.  Our mistakes become building blocks and not stumbling blocks. The results, good and bad, are re-fed to our incredible brain for more processing and design refinement.  With each iteration the brain is exercised both at the conscious and unconscious levels... combining new learning with old thoughts.  The result is a brain that has grown and connections that have expanded.  We become smarter.  

I am convinced that with encouragement and understanding HOW the brain works to grow itself, that parents that bring a 3D printer into their homes are making one of the best investments they could ever make in the futures of their children.

In a future post, I will talk about "How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day" by Michael Gelb.   I will be meeting him on Tuesday as part of a creativity boosting initiative at my day job.  I'm REALLY looking forward to it!

Last year, if you were following this blog back then, I briefly wrote about Alan Gregerman, who I met as part of that same annual creative process initiative.  Alan. wrote the wonderful book, "Surrounded by Geniuses".

And, THAT is where I want to be... and where I am the happiest!  Which, of course, is why I enjoy writing this blog which brings people like yourself into my life!  After all, you wouldn't be interested in 3D printing if you were not on that very same path.   :)