Friday, 17 May 2013

3D Printer Explorations

Time to take another look at some of the fun things that have been going through our little MakerBot Replicator 2 in the last week or so. We finally used up the sample roll of filament that came with the machine and letting things cool down or just restarting alot seems to get us past the heat sensor errors long enough to print some really interesting stuff. Here are 3 specific explorations that are of note.

Saint-Pierra Firminy Church
One of the Architecture honors students (Ana Subotic) is doing something with respect to a church designed by Le Corbusier in Firminy, France here in Built Environment. She split apart her sketchup model to create 3 main STL files for printing. There were errors created by not having things firmly at 0 in Z that were easily enough fixed once we worked out that was the problem. We did get a little warping of the structure (which are the biggest prints we have done) at the corners and a few other artifacts that will take more experimenting to work out why (strange banding on the white roof print for example). Overhangs are a staple of Architecture and without support material we are seeing lots of spaghetti - sometimes unobtrusive, other times pretty annoying. We havent been using the MakerWare support as that is  even more painful to remove. Maybe the Replicator 2X with the water-soluble support is the next step for the Architects as far as a desktop solution goes. Note though that the print of the main floor has a large top that isnt supported at all, but somehow having walls on the outside allowed the print process to span all the way across with very little issue at all - insane!
I dont have pics yet of the cleaned up and assembled thing - but here are a few pics of the pieces. It has a very interesting quality and we are hoping that some paint in the right places and a light inside and the model will come alive.

Katrina's Experiment
Starting as a 'painting' then scanned and a displacement filter applied in 3D to generate a quite complex bed of spikes was the journey that led to this 3D print. Katrina Simon's little print took 3 hours on the machine at medium res which wasn't too bad given the amount of spikes being created. The clear sparkely plastic hid the detail almost completely, but Katrina used the material's strengths to good effect - lighting it from various angles to reveal all the detail in a very cool way.
I am looking forward to more experiments from her, in the meantime - enjoy these images of the piece in all its glory.

Lock Maiden Monsters
We are now testing the 'white' PLA from BilbyCNC, and it has a very different look. The form is revealed completely, in a less jewel-like way. with the white - I think this print in 'high' looks so so cool.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Martin Tamke from CITA talk

Interesting talk at UNSW BE tonight by Martin Tamke from CITA (Centre for IT and Architecture) a research centre at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture.

He talked through a suite of their projects undertaken by staff and PhD candidates around the interface between material and the digital. Their research is all about exploring techniques that can then be applied to the design of space and structures even if their product is more art or prototype. Their process often involves digital simulation and generation followed by a build that is then scanned or analysed to validate the original computer model. We all liked this feedback loop where the digital generates the physical which then informs the digital. There is a dedication to the material in their work, bringing a 'craft-like' aesthetic to highly complex digitally informed geometries.

This is the more thought through, if wordy and very academic sounding way that they describe the Centre right there on the front of their website:
CITA is an innovative research environment exploring the emergent intersections between architecture and digital technologies. Identifying core research questions into how space and technology can be probed, CITA seeks to investigate how the current forming of a digital culture impacts on architectural thinking and practice.
CITA examines how architecture is influenced by new digital design- and production tools as well as the digital practices that are informing our societies culturally, socially and technologically. Using design and practice based research methods; the aim is to explore the conceptualisation, design and realisation of working prototypes. CITA consolidates new collaborations with interdisciplinary partners from the fields of computer graphics, human computer interaction, robotics, artificial intelligence as well as the practice based fields of furniture design, fashion and textiles, industrial design, film, dance and interactive arts.
By examining technology transfers between high-innovative industries, that stand on front edge in the development of new digitalised designs- and production tools, it's our goal to create synergy between the subject's contemporary reality and its future perspective.
Martin ran through some of CITA's projects - here are a few pics to encourage you to swing over and check out their work. I hope they put up images of their new stuff soon, keep an eye on their FB page as well as it has some extra nice stuff.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

3D Printing longer Monsters and whole houses

The Replicator 2 wasnt so happy today, I havent managed to print out an honors student's model of the church at Firminy by Le Corbusier. She has split things up and added manual supports - but I have had several failures in the print - not sticking to the bed and other woes. I am determined to get it printed though.

In the meantime, in testing I now have even more Loch Dreagan monster pieces and they look very cool in long snakey lines. The pics below show one very long monster - that is the current length at the end of the game for each player (10 hump segments plus a tail and a head). The other pic shows a test for placing the pieces in front of cards (not these cards of course - they are from an old Ravenloft set). I like the look, it has an interesting mix of cardgame and boardgame at the moment.

Plus why stop at small models, it would be very cool to 3D print up structures. There are various approaches to this using glue, wood and types of concrete. The WikiHouse way is more like laser cutting than 3D printing, but I like the simplicity and hopefully complexity that can arise.

Monday, 13 May 2013

The early 3D Loch

Decided today was a good day to dive into CryEngine and mock-up a version of Loch Dreagan that might be able to form the setting for an army of cards and artwork for the game. So having not touched the Editor for a while now, I decided to give the new CryEngine tutes on Digital-Tutors a go (well the first handful that is) then dive in and see what I could generate.

I have stayed clear of vegetation so far as I try to get some good bones into the level - investing time into how the shoreline works, how the rock, pebble and various grass texture layers come together. The terrain modifier tools and the logic of painting havent changed too much since I played with them last, version seems pretty stable for this part of things at least.

Even though you dont get grass for free anymore, it comes fairly easily and with the fog things were looking very loch-like. It was interesting inserting enough realism mixes with a touch of style at this point - I am not sure yet if I should be ramping things up.

Anyhow, here are a few screengrabs as I went along.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Into Darkness

Yesterday we headed into the darkness armed with our 3D glasses and tickets to the Entertainment Quarter Hoyts IMAX screening of Star Trek Into Darkness. Because I love to have cool films on DVD/BluRay I just don't go and see much at the cinema to save cash. But I was so impressed - now I am a little torn as that $26 delivers a pretty epic experience. JJ delivered for us with an action romp through the perils of the Star Trek universe - was it a big commentary on American politics - who knows - but the plot was fun to see unfold with around characters we love. There were predictable pieces of course, but that works for Star Trek, and enough twists and surprises to keep us engaged.

The trailers before the film are an absolute treat for me as I have a soft spot for a good trailer. No question the Into Darkness trailer was one of the triggers for us gathering together for the film. The fact that we got together for lunch beforehand for pizza and a board game (team Flash Duel which was super fun) was another part of the lure.
The Man of Steel trailer gave me chills, can it really be that good. Other things like Pacific Rim, After Earth and such look like delivering for us.

As with the first film in this new rebooted Star Trek universe, things are different, but the cast we have for our principle characters who are all human apart from half a Spock and a few nameless extras is stellar. The 3D was wonderful, they showcased it a few times for effect, but for the most part was just part of the experience. Even the first part of the credits at the end were a 3D visual treat as we zoom around the galaxy to a host of weird and wonderful worlds. The sound in that cinema is big, loud and visceral, Giacchino's soundtrack and the wonderfully trekky sound effects are a treat. The CG effects were top shelf - fully integrated with the live action - there are no cardboard boulders here.

All up a pretty intense Star Trek experience that stays focused on these signature characters in the context of a violent and dangerous space opera.


While we are here, how good does Romeo and Juliet look: