Cheap “fabbers” and easy-to-use photo-conversion software make 3d art, medical models of organs, even a working plane. Is 3d fabrication finally taking off?
Since Photofly, a service that turns uploaded photos into three-dimensional models, was introduced in May, it has received an average of 80 uploads an hour, for a total of 70,000 images, according to Autodesk, the service’s creator….
Among the dozens of videos of 3-D models on the site are representations of stuffed animals (like Eeyore), battleships, Lego men, kitchen tables, fruit dishes, remote controls, vacation souvenirs, crab arms, Nerf guns, sneakers and remote controls. If anything, it’s notable how mundane the objects are, an indication of how easy this modeling process — once mainly the purview of laser scanners — has become.
Like Microsoft’s Photosynth service, Photofly stitches together images using stereo photogrammetry, using visual cues to reverse-engineer the geometric properties of objects. But Photofly also creates 3-D object files in various formats that can be imported into computer-aided design programs. Thus the images can be printed, reproduced, manipulated and mixed with other 3-D models. In other words, the scene from Mission Impossible 3 where surreptitiously snapped photos of a villain are transformed into a mask of his face seems less remote….
Photofly’s 3-D models can be made with as few as five photos, though the service recommends that users take at least one photo for every 10 degrees of perspective they want to cover….
Originally, the Photofly researchers thought professionals would be the main users, said Brian Mathews, a vice president at Autodesk who oversees Photofly, as there are already 150 or so industries that Autodesk works with. They saw it being used for things like architecture and the preservation of aging artifacts.
But users have come up with an ever-expanding set of applications. One forensic investigator is testing to see if the technology can be used for crime-scene investigations (here is a model of a footprint in the snow). Another designer imported computer models he had created and combined them with ones scanned by Photofly to create a hybrid reality scene.
Now made easier thanks to cheaper printers:
3-D Plastic Art for the Masses: Ready to Print
A Brooklyn company sells consumer-grade 3-D printers and preaches an open-source mantra, empowering artists and creative aspirants.
A new economy?
Already, 3D printing has been used to make tools and artworks, custom-fitted prosthetics for amputees, components for aviation and medical instruments, solid medical models of bones and organs based on MRI scans, paper-based photovoltaic cells, and the body panels for a lightweight hybrid automobile.
oh, and a plane:
“It was printed on an EOS EOSINT P730 nylon laser sintering machine, which fabricates plastic or metal objects, building up the item layer by layer. No fasteners were used and all equipment was attached using ‘snap fit’ techniques so that the entire aircraft can be put together without tools in minutes. The electric-powered aircraft, with a 2-meter wingspan, has a top speed of nearly 100 miles per hour, but when in cruise mode is almost silent.