@CLMcDade: Makerbot is definitely an important player in the low-cost 3D printer revolution. Originally it was more of a hobbyist/put together yourself kit, but now they're offering preassembled units as well. Definitely worth putting on the radar screen so thanks for singling them out!
CLMcDade: If I'm not mistaken, I think what you're referring to in Creo is more direct modeling capabilities, not necessarily the ability to create a 3D model from a scanned image. While Creo is certainly ushering in a host of cool and high-utility capabilities, I'm not sure this is one of them.
I know this is about 2d pics to 3d, but I wanted to add this. They can 3d scan parts now in just minutes and have accurate models. I know some uses of that now, but I can think of many many more. I think I need to somehow get into this new wave.
Remember how I said you could start with just a clay mold of a given set of inchesxinches? Well, I love the idea of actually starting with a mold of a product you actually have, but just need to modify it. I mean they are doing it with pictures now and 3d, but in my idea it would be more than that. You could remove pieces of an assembly and fit on a new part....ahh..I give too much away as is...lol
The minimal dimension parameters was always my problem with some of the early versions of free form design applications. It always seemed like you ended up with a random size that had to be scaled up or down in percentages.
The example in Creo showed a marker rendering that was done on an overlay of an existing assembly. So the scale was set up by the surrounding reference material.
On the rapid prototyping side of the article, here is a link to another 3D printer that extrudes plastic layers to build up a form. I don't think I've seen this one covered yet in Design News Online.
While this is a desktop unit, the extrusion buildup is similar to the approach of the gentleman who jury-rigged the Chinese robot to do the same on a large scale. http://www.makerbot.com/
The interesting thing that I noticed is that the finished bunny rabbit doesn't show any telltale signs of the layering process.
Of all the "home" systems that I have been reading about in Design News posts, this one seems to be the most inviting and accessible. And the bank of 3D shapes contributed by users is great - it helps those who have no CAD background get started immediately!
One of those Iron Man helmets might be in my future...
A form of this 2D to 3D function has made it into the new release of Creo (Creo 2 formerly Pro Engineer). I haven't had a chance to play with it yet, but the tutorials and webinars show an almost Play-Doh approach to creating a 3D parametric model referencing a 2D sketch that has been imported.
The utility of this type of function has been increased from previous attempts because this method is scaleable to existing assemblies. Dimensions usually matter unless you are purely ideating, and Creo 2 allows you to scale the freeform easily.
Linear guides are one of the most important components required for the development of automated or computer-controlled equipment. Aluminum profile extrusions, used for these guides in machine design, can enable designed-in functional features.
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