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Enhancement Week 2016: ArtLab session – 17th February

Laser cut letters

In this session Nic and Kate led an introduction to LittleBits as well as 3D scanning and printing. All that attended learnt about these emerging and increasingly domesticated products through experimentation and play.

The 3D scanner and printer are of particular interest to me as they present new sculpting possibilities. After some previous experimentation with the printing and scanning process I made a small sculpture to scan with the aid of a specially brought turntable. The turntable rotates the object being scanned very slowly while the scanner is statically mounted around 30-50cm away from the object. Once scanned the digital 3D scan is loaded into the computer to create a digital model which can then be edited in a basic way to make sure it is a sound model to be printed by the 3D printer.

Before finalising the design the correct plastic material must be chosen in accordance with the colour(s) being used to print the model. In this case we had chosen gold which is an ABS based plastic. Cartridge change is also very simple and easy: cleaner and less fiddly than an inkjet printer. Loading the digital model onto the printer is very simple and done using a memory stick with some basic instructions to follow on the printer menu screen. Once the model is loaded and the print bed adequately primed with special water soluble glue, all that can be done now is to press PRINT!

And here is the result. After 9 hours of printing we ended up with a miniature of my sculpture. Unfortunately a lot of the textures I had included (hessian/paper towel/cling-film/corrugated cardboard) did not pick up on the scan which has resulted in a very smooth, curvy print. Although considering this is the first scan and print that I have done from start to finish (obviously with a little help from Nic, Kate and the other students) it has gone reasonably well and the print itself is fairly flawless. What needs to be worked on is the scanning process itself and perhaps a more angular, decisive object to sculpt.

Image of model during capturing it with the scanner
Scanned Image
3D print of scanned model
Original model and 3D printed model

I did also have a quick go at using the laser cutter with ply wood. The digital design interface on the computer is basic but could be effectively utilised.

Laser cut letters
Laser cut letters

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