I have looked into a variety of digital modeling and fabrication technologies
for use in the Utiles project.
In the latter category, I am most interested
in 3D printing, embossing, laser engraving, and vacuum forming.
This page comments on these approaches and leads to some breakout pages.
Most conventional 3D printers lay down successive layers of plastic,
using the heat of the extruded plastic to weld it to the preceding layers.
The Innovation Station
at UT Austin
uses this sort of device (e.g., Makerbot
However, there are other approaches.
For example, the folks at LightHouse
use a 3D printer
that can write on flexible plastic media.
There are devices (e.g., braille embossers
that emboss paper or plastic media under computer control.
These tend to be raster devices, printing a single line of dots at a time.
The resolution of the dots is fairly low (less than 100 dpi).
) vaporize a tiny dot
at the surface of some material.
Holding the beam in one place for longer produces a deeper hole;
aggregating dots can produce arbitrary lines, patterns, etc.
Laser engravers can have very high resolution (e.g., 1200 dpi).
Machines such as end mills are also capable of high-precision engraving.
However, in order to achieve reasonable speed,
they would probably need to switch bits during the fabrication process.
Once created, a physical model can be used as the master
for vacuum forming
of thin plastic sheets.
Although there is an inevitable loss of resolution in this process,
economy and speed may be more important in some cases.
- Laser Engraving - cutting and engraving
- Background - objectives and approach
- Create Template - create a SketchUp template
- Import Data - e.g., floor plan, map image
- Merge Content - Braille, walls, notes, etc.
- Export PDF - gather layers in PDF files
- Merge PDF Files - prepare PDF for "printing"
- Engrave and Cut - set up and run the engraver
- Action Items - alligators, ponies, etc.
- Backing Page - printing, attachment, etc.
- Data Paths - programs, files, etc.
- Engraving Jig - holding the plastic in place
- Export SVG -
- Matter - materials (e.g., plastic)
This wiki page is maintained by Rich Morin
an independent consultant specializing in software design, development, and documentation.
Please feel free to email
comments, inquiries, suggestions, etc!