Using free design software to customize a design file
For the second instalment of Ponoko’s back-to-basics tutorials, we walk through the process of customizing a design file using freely available design software. The recommended software is called Inkscape, an open-source vector drawing program that offers powerful features in an easy-to-learn format.
Making use of the same free design file introduced in part 1 of the Laser Cutting Tutorial series, this time we walk through the process of adding your own text to the laser cut coaster.
Follow through as the process is explained from downloading Inkscape through to preparing the custom file for uploading to your Personal Factory.
In just under six minutes, you will know how to:
• Download Inkscape (available for Mac or PC)
• Open a design file in Inkscape
• Customize the design file with your own text
• Prepare the file for laser cutting
Now we’re just about ready to generate custom designs from scratch using Inkscape, so stay tuned for our Laser Cutting Tutorial Part 3.
Here at Ponoko, we are very serious about bringing laser cutting to the masses. So you can well imagine that our fingers are twitching with excitement at the potential of Sketch It Make It.
Developed by Blank Slate Systems, this clever little iPad app is all about quickly and easily generating files for digital manufacturing – particularly CNC, laser cutting and 3D printing. All it takes is an iPad, a finger to poke at the screen and an idea that is bursting to get out.
As is shown in the teaser clip above, your wobbly scribbles are magically transposed into neat geometric forms almost instantaneously. There are also a number of clever ways that the accuracy can be further refined down to a precision that will have a file ready for the laser cutter in no time.
Sketch It Make It hasn’t been made available to the public yet, but if you like what you see, sign up at the source to be notified when the app is released.
The future is looking solid for rejuvenated browser-based modeler
Fans of the 3D modelling app Tinkercad are turning their frowns upside-down with the big announcement that the company is back in action, and we’re certainly getting excited… because Tinkercad has been acquired by Autodesk.
What exactly does this mean? Well, not only is it great to see Tinkercad back in action; but with the might of this industry juggernaut behind it, Tinkercad looks to be locked into a secure future as elements are slated to filter through into the innovative suite of 123D apps and more.
Tinkercad’s revolutionary Gen6 geometry kernel played a significant role in sealing the deal with Autodesk. The strength of this browser-based solid modelling utility has already proven to be a hit within the Ponoko community. One of the notable success stories of the Ponoko API, Tinkercad makes generating SVG outputs that are ready for laser cutting or 3D printing so easy, it is literally child’s play.
With Autocad at the helm, the Tinkercad free account now has unlimited designs and full import/export functionality, making it that much more appealing to new makers and educators.
“..we have supercharged the free plan. You can now create unlimited designs, all import and export functionality is enabled and ShapeScripts are turned on for free accounts.”
Click through to see the full press release from Tinkercad. (more…)
The Blender 2.67 release includes a feature packed 3D printing toolbox
Blender has long supported the .STL file format used to export for 3D print and it is very welcome news that there will be additional support within the software to help modelers. As a popular, free and open source 3D modeling software package, these new features will greatly help save users’ time in finding issues with their models.
The new toolbox looks set to have features useful for printing models both with online services such as Ponoko, and also with RepRap or Makerbot kitset 3D printers. Models for 3D printing need to be perfectly watertight, so all their edges need to meet to enclose a volume. For most users this can cause issues from time to time, trying to find where a tiny hole might exist. (more…)
At long last, the newest version of the popular 3D modeling software hits the market.
If you are one of the many people who use Rhino, the popular NURBS-based 3D modeling software, you’ve probably noticed that the latest version, Rhino 5, has been in development for, let’s say, awhile. A very long while. Over five years, to be specific. It’s one of those things you might check on occasionally, see the “in development” label, wistfully sigh, and think about all the cool things your children will make with it.
The wait is over. Rhino 5 has been officially released with more than 2000 enhancements, apparently. From what I can see from the new features, it looks like most of those enhancements focus on making Rhino faster, smoother, and able to handle more complex models. I don’t think anyone will complain about that. There are also, of course, a variety new tools to be played with.
For those unfamiliar with Rhino, it’s notable for being extremely versatile with numerous, powerful plugins as well as support for scripting (Python). It may also be the least expensive professional-grade 3D modeling program at $995 ($195 educational). It’s still a bit steep for the hobbyist, but it could be a good investment for a maker trying to turn their passion into a profession.
123D Design is now available for OSX, PC, iPad and on the Web.
Autodesk’s free 3D modeling app 123D has been relaunched as 123D Design, available for OSX, PC, iPad, and as a web app. It’s rare, if not unheard of, for a 3D modeling program to be so widely available, but what’s more remarkable is that the four versions are interoperable. This means that you can start a model with one, finish with another, and then send it to someone else who uses a third. It’s 3D modeling, for free, anywhere.
Solid 3D modelling on Mac, Windows, iPad and on the web!
Last week Autodesk released 123D Design, a free 3D modelling application aimed towards digital fabrication for makers.
The beta version of 123D has been available for Windows PC for some time. The surprise announcement to me was that Autodesk 123D Design not only works on Windows and Mac, but also iPad and a web app! The web app version is still limited to MacOS 10.6.8+ and Windows 7 users, however. (more…)
Purpose built 3D modelling software for designing 3D models for printing
MeshUp is a purpose built 3D modelling application for 3D printing. At first glance, MeshUp appears to have similar mesh mixing capabilities as Autodesk meshmixer. However it includes much more powerful and 3D printing specific features. Developed by a company called Uformia, they claim – “MeshUp is the first real volume modeler for meshes. We want to make life easier for 3D printing and for creators. At Uformia we envision a very different experience for users, where without effort, a creator can be sure that their models are always ready for 3D printing.” (more…)
Formlabs announced today the release of the Form 1, their “prosumer” desktop printer that uses stereolithograpy to produce highly detailed models.
“The Form 1 marries high-end stereolithography (SL) technology and a seamless user experience at a price affordable to the professional designer, engineer and maker.”
A common complaint of current desktop printers like Makerbot, Ultimaker, and RepRap that use FDM extrusion technology, is that the print quality is too low. The Form 1 tackles this head on and the high quality results speak for themselves. Another printer in the “at home” printing market is great news for consumers too. The Form 1 promises to be “An end-to-end package. Printer, software, and post-processing kit that just works. Right out of the box.”
The price is affordable though the regular retail price has not been announced. At $2499 it is comparable to the price of the Replicator 2.
They have a kickstarter campaign to manage pre-sales and generate funds to ramp up production. The machines are selling fast! They have reached their goal of 100K in 2.5 hours.
Formlabs is a Boston-based start-up founded by a trio of MIT grads with impressive backers like Eric Schmidt and Mitch Kapor. They’ve also enlisted Dragon Innovation, a manufacturing consultancy, to assist with the production of the printers and hopefully avoid the kinds of hurdles we’ve seen other successful kickstarter campaigns face.
BotQueue is an online platform for distributing print jobs to multiple 3D printers for production. As the name suggests, it allows you to create a print queue which contains jobs. Your connected bots will grab jobs and produce them. As each job is competed, the operator is prompted to remove and verify the output. Upon successful completion, the bot will grab the next job and start producing it. This continues until the queue is empty. If a bot fails, it is taken offline for repairs.