The next innovations in CG

Can you predict the future? Have a say in the CG Society forum discussion.

Around here at Ponoko, there is often much talk about how Digital Manufacturing is our Next Big Thing. As a part of this conversation, it can also be interesting to see what else is happening in related fields. Often the developments and advances in neighbouring industries can have quite an influence on what happens in our own back yard.

Enter CG Society. An online community where many of the world’s leading digital artists get together to knock each others’ socks off. Aside from portfolios, galleries and competitions, CGS also boasts an active forum in which I recently spotted a thread asking what the next innovations in computer generated artwork will be. Not sci-fi dreamings of the distant future… but what is just around the corner.

Responses include the usual suspects of greater computing power and faster speed. But things get interesting when people talk about specific technological advances like specular lighting and motion capture that were the stuff of pipe dreams only a few years ago, yet are everyday fare for digital artists today.

Also popping up in the discussion are the more Ponoko-familiar modeling, scanning and 3D printing technologies and how to best make use of them.

The colourful conversation continues, with amateurs and experts alike sharing their thoughts on just where these technologies will be in a few short years.

via CGSociety.org

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Solid modeling with the new ImplicitCAD

Open source modeling tool written in Haskell, or, “Clobbering programming problems with gigantic mathematical hammers”

ImplicitCAD is a new, open source, programmatic modeling tool that is similar to projects like OpenSCAD and OpenJsCAD. The author, Christopher Olah, first told me about it at a party last year and now it’s ready for people to start using it!

I asked Chris some questions about his efforts: (more…)

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Free 3D Software from DAZ

Digital Art Zone now offering free downloads

It can be pretty costly to set yourself up with 3d modelling software, particularly when you’re after the good stuff.

So you can imagine the buzz that’s followed DAZ 3D’s recent release of three of their major titles as free downloads for all to enjoy.

Modelling human figures? DAZ Studio Pro will sort you out.
Landscapes and environmental animations? Bryce 7 Pro has it covered.
And the one that has us talking here at Ponoko… 3D models both for rendering/animation and ready to export as .stl files? Hexagon does this and more.

To purchase this software suite from the Digital Art Zone would once have left you on the nasty side of $800, but for a limited time full version downloads are completely free.

Now all that’s left is to fire up your imagination…

Digital Art Zone

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Ponoko + Arduino = DIY MIDI controller framework

Fantastic tutorial on how to build your own custom designs

Digital music production tools are so powerful these days that it seems you can compose and perform just about any kind of music entirely on a laptop. One of the weak points of digital production though is the physical interface: it’s hard to be expressive when you’re pushing your finger around a trackpad. You can have a lot more control if you have a few physical knobs and sliders and buttons. Enter the generic MIDI controller. (more…)

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OpenVSP: parametric aircraft modelling tool

NASA embraces the open-source philosophy

NASA kicked off this year by greatly expanding their commitment to open source, launching their new site code.nasa.gov:

Ultimately, our goal is to create a highly visible community hub that will imbue open concepts into the formulation stages of new hardware and software projects, and help existing projects transition to open modes of development and operation

Some of the projects they’ve opened up are way over my head, but the one that caught my eye is OpenVSP:

OpenVSP is a parametric aircraft geometry tool. OpenVSP allows the user to create a 3D model of an aircraft defined by common engineering parameters. This model can be processed into formats suitable for engineering analysis.

How cool is that? Maybe you don’t have access to an aerospace facility, but with this tool you can invent your own far-out aircraft designs and print out the models in 3D from your Personal Factory.

[Someone should make an app for that...]

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A new OpenSCAD script for personalizing objects

Making custom text a cinch

One of the best parts of 3D printing is that everything you make can be a unique, personalized object. But it’s not always an easy thing to do, especially compared with how easy it is to download objects.

That’s where tools like Write.scad come in. Custom 3D text can be added to your OpenSCAD project with only a few lines of code, and it’s much faster and simpler than a similar project I covered last year. (more…)

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Making an intricate laser cut bowl from a 3D model

See the process from the initial 3D model to laser cutting the parts.

Instructables recently posted a step-by-step explanation of how they produced the digital files for their new Wooden Hand Bowl Kit. The explanation is not quite detailed enough to be a tutorial, but it does provide an excellent overview of how to use a combination of programs — including Poser, Blender, and Autodesk 123D Make — to make interlocking laser-cut parts based on a complex 3D model.

Autodesk 123D is powered by Ponoko Personal Factory and is the software that slices the 3D models into pieces for the laser-cutter.

(more…)

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2011: a massive year for personal fabrication software

The Best of the Blog 2011: Software

2011 was a year of big developments in mobile apps, web apps and cloud computing. Again in no particular order, here are some of the highlights of 2011 in software…

1. Autodesk 123D

123d

123D is notable here because of software giant Autodesk’s recognition of the maker community. Autodesk has developed software for use in industry and high volume production environments. The development and releases of 123D, 123D Make, 123D Create and 123D Sculpt show how serious major software publishers view the on-coming tide of personal fabrication and mass customisation. 123D Beta 8 is currently available for free download.

2. Ponoko API Version 2

app gateway

Created for developers to make Apps that use Personal Factory’s features. The API will allow people to customise products.

At the moment, the flagship app that utilises the API is as mentioned above – Autodesk 123D. I’m hoping 2012 will see many additions to the App Gateway!

3. Grasshopper for Rhino

Grasshopper

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Rhino. I’m also very pleased with the generative modeling plug-in for it – Grasshopper. Admittedly Grasshopper has been in development for about four years, but was recently badged as stable.  Taylor covered an article about how Nikolas Weinstein Studios were using Grasshopper in their practice.

4. EagleUp

EagleUp is a plugin that takes your PCB design files and converts them into SketchUp. This is a really important and useful link in the work flow for any product with electrical components, enabling people to visualise their projects’ components  accurately.


5. Tinkercad

The cloud and cloud based software is slowly making inroads into how we use the web. Tinkercad is one of the first solid modelers to really tackle how to do web based 3D modeling. Tinkercad is an excellent introduction for people who are interested in 3D modeling, but haven’t yet been able to learn other free modelers such as Blender or SketchUp.


David is an industrial designer from New Zealand. He contributes a weekly article on personal fabrication for Ponoko. Follow him on Twitter!

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Visualizing Gcode in Windows

No more rebooting into OSX!

Screenshot by Thingiverse user aubenc

If you do a lot of hobbyist 3D printing, you’ve probably run into this issue before: a cool new tool for generating 3D models comes out, but it only outputs Gcode and you’ve got no way to see what it looks like before printing. (For example, the Voice Extruder.) (more…)

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Upverter: online hardware design tool

‘Github for electronics’

Upverter is a new cloud-based electronics engineering design platform. It aims to make it easier for open hardware designers to collaborate and share their projects. It includes an HTML5-based schematic editor and crowd-sourced parts library. Integration with Github takes care of versioning, and their open-source schematic conversion tool hopes to standardise interoperability between all common file formats.

It is still in ‘beta’ status, so I will reserve judgement, but this platform looks very promising and could prove to be a real boon to the maker community.

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