The Immortalization of Gatoflores

3D Scanning & Printing

This week we learned about 3D printing and scanning.


En route to my 3D scanner training, I found a beautiful pine cone. As John was telling us about the limitations on the machine, he said it does best with objects that are somewhat uniform, light, not too reflective, and that don't have too many surfaces.

And then he said, "Just whatever you do don't bring in a pine cone." Oops. I showed it to him and he encouraged me to try it anyways and see what happens.

The poor digital pine cone never had a chance. It had a billion holes and each one was a crazy complicated line that totally confused the software and crashed the computer. Goodbye digital pine cone!

I decided to scan my sons' favorite toy whose name is "Gatoflores." She's a soft hand puppet so I was thinking maybe I could 3D print her a finger puppet sister.
The scanning itself was quite fast - I did 8 scans and it took about 20 minutes.

Using GeoMagic I filled the holes and tried to clean things up. Everything was looking pretty good, but when I sent the file to Tom there were places that the software had normalized incorrectly. Which is to say that the machine was confused between the inside and the outside of the object and wouldn't be able to print her well.

I tried a number of ways to fix this but the only thing that seemed to erase the poorly normalized areas were two commands: Thicken and Scale.

Both Thicken and Scale seemed to work by bulking up the outer surface of the object, so she looked a lot fatter in the digital model. But each time I thickened I had to decimate the polygons because it would create too much information and crash Tom's printing program. Finally, it looked like I had a file that would work.

NOPE! Unfortunately the file actually wasn't ok and the printed object looked somewhat ok from the front but had all sorts of problems on the back, including missing her entire tail.

Round 2: SUCCESS!
I went back to the lab and John helped me fix my file. It turns out doing Thicken and Shell are NOT a good idea - I needed to fix the file before those poorly normalized bits came into play.

Now Gatoflores has some new friends to play with.