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3D Surface Printing

When you think about research, fun and exciting aren’t words someone would typically use in describing their investigations. Every once in a while though, you stumble across something that’s so fascinating you have to share it. In my research of stereolithographic 3D printers, I came across a link that sent me to Computational Hydrograhic Printing, quite a mouthful of syllables! At this time, in post processing of stereolithographic produced models, the current method is to paint your figures by hand or to electropaint. Here is a presentation of CHP as introduced in a paper, and demonstration, by university students of Zhejiang University in China and in collaboration with Columbia University last year. The team uses a Microsoft Kinect that maps the location of the object before immersion; the object orientation and dipping location are then both positioned by a 3D scanning system.

CHP could take a 2D picture of someone, scan a single color 3D model of the same subject, combine the plot points of the two with the algorithm, develop the film print and align it for application to the model. As yet, no information is available on any commercial system that uses this method of printing on 3D surfaces. Someone will develop one in the very near future and I can see that it would be indispensable for the 3D printing community. Hydrograhic printing, or water transfer printing, is a common method of printing and has been in use since 1982. Patterns in use today are conventional pre-printed sheets, for example camouflage or woodgrain that are common to specific industries like outdoor sports equipment or automobile manufacturing.

Here is a demonstration of the current method of home application using a pre-printed pattern sheet. It seems quite easy to develop and apply, using available and simple conventional materials.

Hydrographic design for 3D printing from le FabShop on Vimeo

Maybe if I’m lucky, a CHP app system will be on the market by the time I open my doors for business.

Quote of the week:

“Practice safe design: Use a concept”. — Petrula Vrontikis

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Lost Wax Casting

Lost wax casting is fast becoming an interesting and satisfying outlet for my imagination. I think it’s indispensable in combination with 3D extruded models and I can hardly wait to test run my first attempts at combining the two disciplines.

For those not familiar with casting, I’ll explain in as layman like fashion as possible. Before we began, our instructor showed us a design from another class that took twenty hours to develop. It resembled a flowering bud with leaves designed as latticework and about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. The artist sculpted each wax leaf by hand, arrayed them circularly at an angle and then arrayed and layered successively smaller versions above. I remarked to the instructor that 3D modeling software could accomplish the same task in about 5 minutes. Extruding the design with a good 3D printer would take about 15 minutes.

For the first class, we were given an overview of the steps involved, and the equipment that would be used to complete the design of our choosing. My first wax design is a medallion, which admittedly could have used more detail, but I’ll be extruding my waxes by 3D software design and extrusion by 3D printer where I’ll have greater control of an intricate pattern, so at this time I’m more interested in the development of casting technique than detail. Still, it’s a satisfying effort to understand how to cut, design and manipulate both the wax and the tools needed to develop a good design. I can see where many hours could be spent on just this first step, depending on the detail and intricacy of your design.

The second class gave us the method to attach our wax model to a synthetic base which is attached to a circular metal casing or “cup”. We attached our wax to the base with a “sprue”, a branch-like stem of wax that provide a path for the molten casting material to flow and for air to escape. The base is then attached to the cup and a slurry of silica “plaster” is poured into the cup and allowed to harden. The base is removed, exposing the end of the sprue. This casing is then placed in a kiln for the burnout process, which melts out the wax and leaves the void of the design in the plaster cast.

Our next class will show us how to measure out the casting material by weight and melt the metal in a crucible, then pour into our casting. See you then.

Quote of the week:
“If anybody here has trouble with the concept of design humility, reflect on this: It took us 5,000 years to put wheels on our luggage”. — William McDonough

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Reading and Writing

I highly recommend The Art of the Start 2.0. I’m halfway through this book and I’ve learned a lot about the pitfalls and stumbling blocks of starting a new business. It’s also an invaluable primer on how to succeed in starting a business, by eliminating much of the directions that my small business administration classes of starting, managing and operating a small business instructed me to do.

The market continues to drive where my business will go. I still intend to offer custom 3D models available for shipment anywhere, but I’ve found interesting opportunities that I can add to enhance my output locally. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I’ll scan people and offer 3D prints similar to the format you see in the following video. This video was developed in 2014 by someone forming a company to be launched in April of that year, print3dpeople.com. The company has yet to materialize, and I can find no evidence of it in searches on the internet although I did find a reference to print3dpeople.com.au. Clicking on that site link gives only the message ‘Not found’. Here is the video:

Further, my research has led me to agonize over the type of 3D printer I’ll use. Rather than laying down successive layers of extruded filament, Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) another method uses Stereolithography (SLA) that “pulls” the print out of a liquid bath. Here is one of several companies offering this product.


MoonRay – World’s Best UV DLP Desktop 3D Printer from SprintRay on Vimeo

Both printers require post-production finishing. Full color 3D printers are available but at this time are marketed to large businesses and cost $40,000 to $100,000. Desktop full color printers were estimated to be available to the home enthusiast and small business in April of this year, but so far none have made it to the marketplace, or have been bought out by larger companies not wishing to share their piece of the pie.

Quote of the week:
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus”.
-Mark Twain

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The Crew

This blog often uses “we” or “I” interchangeably when writing about this business. At the moment, “we” are a crew of three. I am the proprietor, responsible for the departmental activities and overall management of advanc3Design. I’m also the chief designer, but I couldn’t do this without the help of two most trusted “partners”.

My deepest thanks and gratitude must be given to my social networking partner, without whose contribution of time and editing of these blogs, and social networking sites, would not allow much of my own time to be directed to the more detailed matters of research and financing the many aspects of this business. This person is in the beginning phase of her career, as an accomplished writer and author of her own Gothic, horror and fantasy novels or short stories and has some recent small success with her own published works.

We must also give credit to another “partner” whose research and forwards of many brilliant ideas, websites and craftwork from around the world are the basis of the many projects in our library. Her masters university studies required development of teaching skills in a multitude of art genres, to students of primary grades to university-level preparation.

It should be noted that each of us reside in different countries. The U.S., Germany and Ukraine respectively.

I also have a stable of contract designers here, all former coworkers, with expert skills in 3D design and 3D design software. As designers, we are all skilled in structural, mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, piping, and robotics, in land, offshore and deepsea design to name a few disciplines. With our current stable of contributors, I feel we have the woman/ man power to tackle a job of any size, limited only by the output of our equipment and imagination.

To all, I give my deep gratitude and thanks.

Quote of the week:

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination”.
-Henry David Thoreau