I found a cool online tool called Zebratrace - 'ZebraTrace is a simple tool to trace bitmap images into a pattern of curves with a variable width. You can control amount of curves, resolution, min and max width, functions for plotting the curves. The application was created primarily for Guilloché pattern design and all kinds of creative engraving.'
I've used a photograph of the Eiffel Tower I snapped during winter when it was covered in snow. I think the results are very interesting. It was a good test for the 3D printer and the process. However I prefer a less photorealistic look. I believe the Guilloché effect is similar to that used to render images in the design of banknotes.
Cherry blossom season is a pretty cool spectacle. Unfortunately I remember this 2019 one because of the viral stories about tourists shaking trees to artificially create a bed of petals around their feet to get a better selfie for Instagram. Outrageous.
Despite this, I was inspired to reproduce Hokusai's 'Mount Fuji Behind Cherry Blossoms'. I could only find a half decent example online which would have to do. There are many small details on this one so I has to make sure they were large enough for the printer to print each tiny island, which were only around 1mm wide. This define the overall size of the painting which ended up being 900mm wide x 300mm tall.
I won't go on about why I wanted to become an artist at 45, my reasons and everyone's reasons will be different. I'm willing to bet that something that we do share is this thought - Is it too late? I certainly asked myself that. I've been an industrial designer all my working life and now this? What in the world do I hope to achieve?
Short on ideas in the beginning, hoping to quickly develop my non existent style, I happened upon Dr.Ishihara's colour-blindness tests online and thought to myself 'wow these are designed to test if someone has a certain type of inability to see colour'. What a great way to illustrate my predicament.
The three paintings I eventually made says 'it's not too late' but myself and other viewers, colourblind or not, have to work hard at seeing the word 'not'. I hope my painting keeps reminding me to never stop squinting and always believe, It's not too late. Because it never is.
It's time to think about new things that 3D printing can do. So far its been model aircraft, lampshades and sculpture projects. I'm not interested in trawling the internet for generic 3D printed toys. Sure, it can be used for very small batch production but it's far from an efficient way to do things. The SUNBIRD would actually be really great at producing super complex one-off parts as prototypes but even as a designer I don't get prototyping work very much.
So if the superpower of 3D printing is being able to print whatever can be generated on a computer, I should figure out the most interesting and original things to draw on my computer first. I want to get creative and love art, so I'm thinking along these lines.
I'm Malaysian so I thought about the handmade stamps for making Batik. With the right CAD modeling and settings, a 3D printer could easily knock these out. These are currently made by skilled craftsmen out of metal. However when thy are used the are dipped into molten wax. I worried about the temperature of molten wax - 5- to 60 centigrade melting PLA. With the right choice or filament - Nylon or PET, a 3D printed stamp would work fine.
There would probably not be much of a demand for 3D printed batik stamps though. In the meantime I thought of other applications. Of course I chose an ancient Japanese printing technique that's slowly being lost to the world, woodblock printing.
There was a really great exhibition in Paris of woodblock print artwork by the famous Japanese artist from the 18th century, named Hokusai. It was a fantastic collection of his work but I found out later he had done so much in his near 70 year career, that there was only half of it on show. Despite being hundreds of years old, reproductions of his art have been used in mainstream media and are very recognizable, like this one below.
The method used to produce these amazing images is called woodblock printing and the art is called Ukiyo-e. It's essentially an early form of offset printing which is how many books, posters and newspapers are printed today. In Ukiyo-e, the artist uses hand carved wooden blocks to transfer ink to paper in a very precise way.
Can a 3D printer be used to make Japanese style woodblocks? Carving these blocks is really really hard to do and takes a long time, so I wondered if 3D printing could be used to make some sort of more accessible alternative for the budding artist. I doubt that a 3D printed version could ever match the beauty of a traditional woodblock print but it would certainly be fun.
I decided to convert a famous print of Mount Fuji by Hokusai into 3D data and started printing test samples to see what kind of print I could get. I'm running a slightly wider nozzle, 0.6mm so maybe the standard 0.4mm nozzle would be better to get the smaller details but take a lot longer. I am sticking 0.6mm.
I tried a few different Grasshopper algorithms with Rhino to perform an edge-detect function on jpegs that let me generate the lines I need to extrude and turn a photo into a 3D printable model. Here is a link to get the Grasshopper definition. Rooster - www.food4rhino.com/app/rooster
At first the numerous tiny details in the artwork caused print failures and I needed to really tweak the slicer settings. On the whole it was quite challenging to get all the details in like the trees at the foot of the mountain but so far they look pretty good. See below.
Looking forward to actually printing a proof of concept. I do foresee many issues with how the ink or paint will stick to the plastic but there is a type of 3D printing filament called Woodfill, which contains wood powder so... maybe this 'wood' be the best option:)
After doing a few successful 3D prints, it struck me that this process could be used to convert artwork into a medium to let blind people feel and see a piece of artwork too. But that is for another post.
They say getting 80% of the work done takes just 20% effort, but the last 20% takes 80% more effort.
I disagree, it actually feels more like another thousand percent! I've been printing all sorts of test parts in order to tune firmware settings.
This is a pic taken of a print, the first time I've maxed out the Z axis, printing a sample model downloaded from the British Museum. Maxing out Z means 382mm. I hope to get this number to a nice 400mm. This was also quality test after all my tweaks and it is stunning.
So after all, Chinese parts turned out to be great and very worth the 3 week delivery time.
After dozens of test prints, I have a good understanding of what's lacking in the MK 1 printhead, but first the good points. The first iteration had the minimum requirements to produce a decent print. It had a sturdy mount for the clone Titan and E3D V6 hotend. It also has a 50mm cooling fan blowing into a cone that directed it just blow the nozzle tip, although after swapping to a clone Volcano heatblock which puts the nozzle 8.5mm lower, I had to use some gaffer tape to redirect the airflow down a little. Will have to figure out new dimensions to suit the longer dimensions.
Starting with Mk2, I wanted to address the part cooling issue and also add a mount for an original Antclabs BL Touch bed leveling sensor that just arrived in the post. I chose a mechanical sensor instead of a filed proximity type because up until now I haven't finalised what print bed material will go into the future production version of the Mission 3D printer yet. In my opinion a high quality mechanical sensor is the best choice for glass or any of the new print surfaces now on the market.
I also wanted to experiment and hopefully develop a tool-less hot-swappable printhead module for maximum convenience going from a 0.4mm nozzle to a 0.8mm one for example. With the low cost of clone parts, it was feasible to swap extruder, hotend, bed leveller and fan all in one. However, after awhile i realised the idea would be too costly and wasteful. Plus I found that the overall weight of everything was a mit much for even very strong neodynium magnets. Perhaps a magnetic system would work better if it was a lightweight Bowden system, maybe later... I also felt it was necessary to tidy up the whole printhead appearance for a better look.
So at the end of Mk2 development, the magnets are out but the part cooling fan setup and BL touch mount is looking good! On to version 3!
I have ordered almost all of the parts required to build my second 3D printer from Chinese suppliers. Aside from being much cheaper, I think they might be very low quality. But I am interested to learn if good design and software settings can make up and to see if the part are even as low quality as the prices seem to hint at. If this is possible in any significant way, then I could say there is a future in very cheap but fully functional 3D printers.
It may have quite a boring name for now but my latest prototype is taking shape. I am developing a large format 3D printer based on my proven SUNBIRD Mobile Computer Lab. As an enclosure, the SUNBIRD offers many advantages as a platform over conventional consumer 3D printers. Read all about it on my dedicated page - https://bramtan.weebly.com/
I was lucky enough to receive a set of declassified drawings of the Northrop YF23 stealth fighter from an aerospace enthusiast who happened to buy one of my SR71 Blackbird Models. I was immediately taken its curves and the challenge of modelling this prototype and optimising it as a 3D printed model.
It took me 11 attempts to model this aircraft from the drawings provided, I was never sure I could do it justice. I discovered eventually that the key to getting it right was reading up about the design intent behind the curves and angles and realising that not a single surface is the way it is, by accident. I finally suceeded in approximating this beauty buy staying absolutely true to the 2D profiles.
The finished model with more texture detail and optimisation to fit smaller printers will be available for download on Pinshape and Cults 3D very soon!
In 1967 the North American X15, an experimental aircraft used in test flights to gather information to aid aircraft and spacecraft design set the record for the world's the fastest manned powered aircraft reaching Mach 6.7. It was powered by a single rocket engine and regularly achieved altitudes above the 50 miles which qualified most of its pilots as astronauts. The North American X15 contributed hugely to advances found in modern air and spacecraft.
I was inspired to model this iconic plane after being contacted by a modelling enthusiast from the US who was interested in buying and printing one of my earlier 3D print models, the SR71 Blackbird. The X15 took me two days to model using 2D drawing from the internet. It's quite a simple shape but it did sharpen up my surface modelling skills nicely.
I have modeled one of the earliest versions, hence the oval windows and no wingtip pods. I think it looks badder lwith the oval windows. I also had to make a few small changes to the shape of the tail to make it printable without infill or supports. This also speeds up the build time and cuts down on material costs.
If you have a 3D printer with a build volume of at least 190mm x 190mm x 190mm, you can build my 1/35th scale model of this iconic plane. It's available for download here: https://pinshape.com/items/35442-3d-printed-north-american-x15
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© Siang Eu Tan 2021. All Rights Reserved.
© Siang Eu Tan 2021. All Rights Reserved.