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

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.

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!  :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Creating a Handle with Insert in Moment of Inspiration

Most of the items I will be uploading to the Cubify store have more than one purpose.  Of course, the primary purpose is to offer a useful item for Cube owners to download.  But, a very important secondary purpose is to provide an opportunity to introduce applications and techniques that are useful for those Cube owners that want to create their own objects.

The Nail Holder is no exception.  It is very useful to learn how a handle with a matching insert can be designed.  Well fitted inserts are going to be an important part of our design toolbox.

In this case, I've created a video that demonstrates the principles and techniques that were used to create the Nail Holder handle with the matching pentagonal insert.  I hope you find it useful.

Of course, other CAD and 3D applications can perform similarly.  So, we won't always just demonstrate using Moment of Inspiration.  There will be opportunities to introduce 3D programs for students, like TinkerCAD and Open Source 3D applications like Art of Illusion.

But, I have to tell you.  When it comes to easy and productive, I find Moment of Inspiration truly amazing.