Monday, September 17, 2012

3D Printed Woopa Monster

Inspired by The World of Magic game for the iPhone/Android by com2us. This little bugger wreaks havoc at the beach when your a nooby noob. I've run for my life and left others in the dust to be devoured by schools of these carnivorous finned nightmares.

Once you reach a level where they no longer pose a threat to you. You will find yourself looking back on them as a right of passage out of noobdom. Everyone worth their salt will face the hoards of woopas. The swarms of woopas. Spawing like rabbits. Just when you think you're safe, more are headed your way.

Now, they're spawning in 3D over at shapeways.
You can purchase them here

They will invade your home!

Check out my other items at

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dragonfly Prototype Has Arrived

Well, the prototype arrived, and it looks good. It just doesn't function. No fault of shapeways of course. This was round one, and there were bound to be design flaws with so many moving parts. I had high hopes, but it's not terribly surprising that it didn't work on the first print. Here's a few photos of the results.

Upon opening the box, I didn't see the problems that I had hoped to see. I saw a different set of problems. It was the set of problems that I pushed to the back of my mind and hoped I would not see.

It's form is currently at 100%, It's function is currently at 0%
So, if we do the math, that makes it about 50% complete.

In an older post, I mentioned that art can be a lot of experimentation. This was my first attempt at making my vision reality. It didn't work. So, now it's time to see what does work, what doesn't, and refine the design.

I'll try to hold onto my original vision as long as I can. But, that doesn't always work out. One of the hardest lessons I had to learn in art school was how to know when you're done. By that, I mean knowing the difference between what you want it to be, and what it want's to be. You can try and try and try to make it fit your vision and get it "just right". But, sometimes you have to let the art just be what it is. If it's 98% what you wanted it to be. Then it's a success. That last 2% will drive you mad if you let it. I still find this the hardest lesson. I have left so many things (mostly paintings) unfinished because I couldn't get them "just right" in my eyes..

Over the next few weeks. I'll be refining the design and keep posting my progress.
Starting with an evaluation of the failures.

I will note though, that the material is surprisingly strong for it's size and weight.
It's feather light, and in some places it's not  much thicker than a piece of card stock. But, it's pretty tough. I've handled it quite a bit, and none of the little pieces have broken.
It's a lot like handling a hamster or other tiny creature for the first time.
You feel like you're going to crush it's tiny body in your big clumsy hands. But, it's always comes out just fine.

Thanks for Reading!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Moving away from Cafepress

I recently found out that cafepress may not be the most ethical company to have produce custom Tees. Nor are they the cheapest or the fastest or have the best available print area. So, after a very brief stay with them I will be moving to
I was able to migrate my existing designs as well as add some new ones this evening.
The new store is located at

Here's the latest novelty tee's that I have added.
I hope you enjoy them.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

3D Printed Characters

I was thinking the other night.
Thinking about how I made a lot of friends, and have a lot of good memories of playing an MMORPG for the iphone, itouch, ipad.  It's called IMO The World of Magic. It's a fun Zelda like game of quests and monsters and PVP on the beach. I wish I still had time to play. But, things change, life happens.
So, here I am making a little homage to the game in my own way. I'm doing it by creating 3D interpretations of the little pixel sprites that you meet along the way. I made my first two this week.

~ Kooii ~ Level 1 Mob.
~ Dark Steel Sword ~ LVL 38 Weapon
As time goes on I would like to transform more of these 2D creatures and objects into 3D versions for the IMO community to scoop up and bring home if they like. These are rendered images.
The actual products would come in the colors and materials chosen when ordering. But, they can be hand painted once you receive them. These objects would be printed on 3D printer by a company called Shapeways. They offer a number of materials that you can have things printed in.
Check out my Shapeways store for these charms and more.

Before I go. I want to say that it was a tremendously fun game. It helped that I was in a great guild called Young on the Devilang server. Those guys were the best. It was a blast. The game is still being expanded today and is now available on the Android. Some of the people I played with over two years ago are still playing today and the guild still lives on. Look for a pro with a blue dragon mark. Tell them Rith says hi! :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Syd Barrett T's

It's rare that I find a shirt that I will wear that has printing on it.
I usually go for the standard white, gray or black T with nothing on it.
I thought that maybe I don't wear printed shirts because they're just not me. 
But, that's not the case. There's two shirts in my past that I wore to death. I loved them.
So, now I'm thinking I just have a hard time finding the right shirt for me. 
I'm just too picky I guess. So, with that in mind, I did up this shirt design today and put it on Skreened
I would absolutely wear this..

If you don't recognize the face. It's Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd.
I don't know if having this shirt printed violates any copyrights laws. 
I tried to do some searching, but everything I read had to do with images of people who were still alive.
In either case, if the image or Syd's likeness is copyrighted, I'll happily remove the shirt upon request.

A little history on Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett. He is best know as one of the founding members of Pink Floyd. Many credit him to be 'The' founding member, as he is credited with naming the band after two blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. If you know that already you probably also know he suffered from  mental illness which was believed to be worsened by excessive use of hallucinogens. Many view him as one of the first casualties of the hallucinogen culture of the time.
He was not only one of the founding members of Pink Floyd, but also a Painter, and produced a few solo albums. The solo albums are still available, and are worth a listen if you like Floyd's early work. As for the surviving paintings. There doesn't appear to be a single respository for them. But, google will certainly get you plenty of results if you're interested in searching.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Spiked Pendants

While trying to come up with some new ideas for things to make I was doing some fiddling and a couple of things popped out at me. A couple of pointy things. Both are now available in my shapeways shop.

And here they are...

The Ring of Spikes Pendant.
Circles or Rings typically represent eternity or the life cycle.
But, to me, this one appears to be holding something at it's center.
Something invisible, something tortured. Some poor trapped soul.
Could be part of a great Halloween cosume. Or, just wear it if that's your style.
It still looks cool. Even if I made it sound creepy.

Then there's The Inverted Half Mace pendant.
It appears normal from the front. But, when you take look at the back. There are more spikes inside.
They feel like they represent the internal struggle that is being human. As we hide ourselves from the world, this mace hides its spiked internals from the viewer. Only the wearer knows its true identity.

I hope you like them, and thank for reading!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Using reference parts in assemblies

Just a quick tip for anyone who uses Autodesk Inventor for Shapeways 3d printing.

In an earlier post. I showed how to set up your part or assembly templates to give you an estimated cost without having to upload your file to shapeways.

I recently worked on a project that required I include a part that I didn't want printed.
I needed to use as a reference in the assembly so that I could build around it.
By right clicking on the part in the browser and choosing "Reference" in the "BOM Structure" menu. The reference parts volume is excluded from the estimated cost! Very handy! Well, at least I thought so ;)

Be careful though. You will want to suppress the part or toggle visibility of those parts off before outputting your STL file for printing. Otherwise they will be printed, and that's not what you wanted.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dragonfly is ready to prototype.

I realize this has been a long and drawn out process. But, it's finally ready to prototype. Here's a video of the final model in motion.

I have two concerns about the final product.
1. Will the wings be heavy enough to fall back down on their own. Or, will the holes be too tight and hold the wings up?
2. Will the lip and snap fit prongs on the cover and the base be loose enough for it to fit, but also be tight enough to hold it closed? Only the prototype can tell me that.

Building a better dragonfly

After finding the worst possible way to get my dragonfly body from Sculptris to Autodesk Inventor,  and then finding a slightly better way. Inventor was still choking on the geometry. It could handle it, and it looked decent, but it was still causing performance issues on my weak sputtering old pc. I learned that if I made nurbs in 3ds Max. I could export them as an IGES file and inventor would take them in as if they were their own. It would love them and hold them and happily stitch them to a solid with no resistance, no long waits, no CPU spike, no whirring chewbacca fans blowing smoke out the back of my tower.
 The file size is only 200k, rather than the whopping 30-40mb of the previous methods..

Here's what it looks like now.

I first learned that exporting IGES files would preserve the smooth surfaces from inventor and import them into 3DS Max as solid bodies. So, I wagered that the opposite might be true as well. I decided to try it out, and it worked perfectly. With a small win under my belt, I set to find a way to salvage what I already had made in Sculptris. I made some attempts to find a free program that would convert the geometry to a nurbs surface and save it as an IGES. However I kept finding the same answers over and over. 100s of posts in dozens of forums, and the same advertisers saying... "Our product can do that! Come buy it!".
No free lunch today it would seem. Coincidentally, I skipped lunch today so I could write this.

With no free lunch, and nothing to make my sculpted body play nice with inventor. I decided, to scrap it. I started a brand new body made from actual nurbs inside 3ds Max. It wasn't as easy as sculpting. But, it wasn't horribly painful either. All in all, it wasn't a bad first experience in 3ds Max. The only down side I could see was that the nurb editor felt a lot like a plugin. Something that got tacked on afterwards.
That lead me to believe that maybe there was something else I should be using. So, I did a little digging again, and it was looking like Rhino or Maya were the nurb editors of choice. But, nothing free. Except blender. Once again I hear the murmers of the web telling me "blender can do that".

Now that the body is finally finished I can perhaps get onto wrapping up the wings, and the project in general. Here's a video of the project in its current state.

Everything is complete now except the wings.
They look a bit too much like butterfly wings, and not like dragonfly wings. I'd like to fix that.

Standard issue poly/quad meshes like the ones made in sculptris are perfectly good and are a more than acceptable method of producing geometry for 3D printing. But, unfortunately Inventor seems to hate them. Inventor specializes in designing "feature driven" models. Cutting and welding and folding, hole making, etc. So, when it comes to designing moving parts within the tolerances set forth in shapeways design guidelines I feel very comfortable in Inventor. But, for the organic stuff, it's less than ideal. If you plan on importing something into an inventor project that is organic in nature. It looks like designing it with nurbs and exporting as an IGES file is the best way to go.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sculpting and Inventor

So it's been over a week now and I've only begun to scratch the surface of interoperability between inventor and other non-native 3D formats.
I've found that there is a way to get objects from Sculptris into inventor. But, it is not the optimal way of doing things. The objects are very very facet heavy and inventor buckles under the weight of all those facets.
So, rather than posting a "how to" on placing memory hogging faceted objects into Inventor. Instead I will share what I learned that led me to finding another, better way of getting organic sculpted shapes into inventor. 

After a week of research i found myself feeling a bit foolish. The Autodesk Product Design Suite that i've been using has Mudbox as part of the package. So, I've been sitting on Mudbox this whole time. Sculptris is still great, but since Mudbox is part of the suite, i should probably be using it. Plus, it does have some pretty neat features. like sculpt layers.The workflow for moving the sculpted data between Mudbox and Inventor is totally ridiculous for a suite. Not much better than just using Sculptris and Inventor. Although, who in their right mind would be using Mudbox and Inventor at the same time? Just us Dr. Frankenstein types I guess. Anyway, let's get started.

There's 2 to 3 additional pieces of software needed to make a round trip from Inventor to Mudbox and back.At the bare minimum you will need
1) MeshLab,
2) AutoCad
If you have 3DS Max, there's some benefit to including it in the workflow. but for sake of simplicity we leave it out of the equation for now.

In the world of 3D there are a number of different types of objects.
The two we will be dealing with are Solids and Meshes.
Inventor creates and wants Solids.
Scluptris and Mudbox create Meshes.

I'm not going to pretend that I know a lot about 3D Meshes, because i don't. But, in their simplest form they are a series of points (vertexes) in a 3 dimensional space connected by lines (normals).
These vertexes and normals typically create a series of polygons or triangles that can be used to create a surface. In some cases the lines may be straight which creates facets (this is what inventor chokes on), but in other cases they may be curved to give smooth appearance to the model. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong but I believe the curved ones are called NURBS.

The second entity is the Solid. Solids are, or can be, a lot like meshes, with one important difference. The mesh that creates them is closed and filled with imaginary matter. Imagine the earth with the longitude and latitude lines painted on it. Those lines represent the mesh. The mesh is fully connected to itself. It doesn't detach at any point and drift off into space. It is a grid that is closed and connected to itself which creates a "water tight" surface. Beneath that surface is the soil, which makes the earth solid. Like the earth, any object that has a "water tight" mesh can be converted to a solid.

So, now that I've explained what we're dealing with here. Here is the workflow.
For additional detail, I've done video tutorials for both Part 1 and Part 2 of the workflow.

Please excuse the sound quality. I was using headphones for a mic, and I was a bit stuffed up from allergies.

Part 1: Inventor to Sculptris.
1) Export base mesh from inventor as an STL file.
2) Import STL into MeshLab
3) Export from MeshLab to OBJ.
4) Import OBJ into MudBox or Sculptris
After doing your sculpting in Sculptris or Mudbox  you can move on to getting it back into Inventor.

Part 2: Sculptris to Inventor
1) Export new OBJ file from Sculptrix / Mudbox
2) Open OBJ in MeshLab
3) Export from MeshLab as 3DS
4) Open AutoCAD, and set your environment to 3D Modeling
5) On the Insert Tab, choose Import and select your recently exported 3DS file.
6) Move to the Mesh Tab, and choose "Smooth Object" or type in CONVTOMESH
7) Again on the Mesh Tab, choose Convert to Surface or type CONVTOSURFACE
8) Save as DWG (2010 version).
9) Import DWG into Inventor.
10) Use the stich tool in Inventor to stitch the surfaces into a solid.

The videos are worth taking a look at, particularly for Part 2 of the workflow.
There are some choices to be made in the import and export dialogs which are explained in the video which may not be obvious at first glance.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tutorial coming soon...still

My journey over the last week or so since first stumbling upon Sculptris has been long. My original goal of writing a tutorial on how to get Sculptris objects into inventor turned out to be more challenging than I initially thought. Not because the software is bad, but instead because I lack basic knowledge of 3D object types and file formats. But, I am getting closer. The more I learn, the more I feel that I should be focusing on learning blender in the nearest future. It's beginning to seem more and more that blender is like the Swiss Army Knife of free modeling software. It's not a cannon that obliterates projects from miles away. But, with some know how, it will get you through the wilds. At least, That is the impression I get from people out there in the wilds. As I travel the web in search of all the mysteries that are 3D, I keep hearing "blender can do that".
I will post my tutorial soon but it may not be exactly as I had planned it. It may be something a little different.
In the mean time, seek inspiration!

Thanks for reading :)


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sculptris is SICK! and FREE :D

Note: Thanks to Mezmera for pointing out that this software is Mac/Windows only,
No Linux based version at this time..

So, the other day, I saw a post in the shapeways forum saying how easy this software was to use. I thought to myself...3D is never really easy. There's always navigation controls to learn, then a whole slew of primitive shape tools, then even more tools to manipulate those shapes...the list goes on and on. Boy was I wrong.

The software was called Sculptris from pixelogic It's not real stable on my old clunker of a pc. But, neither is flash player or even Firefox for that matter. A faulty surge protector and a few power outages will do that to a PC. Probably the coffee maker too (is that why it's been tasting burnt lately?)
But, that's besides the point.
It's a small download and it installs in a jiffy. The interface is minimalistic and intuitive. My initial reaction, is that this software is what most software should be. Fast, powerful and easy to use. Not to mention its free.

Without reading or watching a single tutorial. I was able to make this creatures head shown below in less than 10 minutes. NO EXAGERATION!!. That's just plain awesome. It was almost easier than if I was using real clay. I'm blown away. I can't believe this is free software.

It was almost as if it knew exactly what i wanted it to do.

You can even paint and texture it. (See the red eyes!)

Plus, you can export the 3D mesh as an obj file, along with the texture and uv maps for use in other applications. I couldn't ask for more. Except a better pc to run it on. I'm not worthy! (Wayne's World reference, anyone catch that?)
You must check this software out for yourself to experience its awesomeness.
Here's a link to the download page for it.

I'm still working on converting the resulting meshes/obj files for use with inventor. perhaps that will be another post for another day.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Back to Moving Forward

I had fun doing the ring designs.
I have quite a few models stocked up but nothing worth sharing at this time. Maybe later this week, but not today.  If you have no idea what i'm talking about, I'm talking about 3D printed objects. If you can design it, they can print it in 3D at There's some limitations of course, but you get the idea.
Something else has moved to the front of my priority list. That item, is the fact that I would like to get a few samples ordered from Shapeways soon. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures are something that my shapeways store is lacking. I need to show some actual finished products on there.
So, if I'm going to be placing an order. It seems like a good idea to wrap up one of my moving part projects so that I can get a prototype of one of those as well (save some $$ on shipping I hope).
Since I'm going back to one of my moving parts projects. I'll share it with you.

I wanted to make a dragonfly that flapped its wings. Seems simple enough, Right?

Here's a screenshot of the miniature as it stood this morning.
I didn't completely plan out the linkages that will move the wings yet.

I know that doesn't tell you much. So, Here's a screenshot that shows the internals of the base.
Two gears, with 8:1 gear ratio. The idea was that 1/4 turn of the main gear would give the dragonfly wings a good flapping or two. 

But, it's proving more complicated to model than I initially thought. I should really have planned out the linkages.But, that's what I get for jumping in head first. So, after half a days work, i find myself with what looks like a finished product.. But, doesn't function like one.

The wings will flap. But, not as I had intended them to.
So, it's back to the drawing board. This time I will plan the linkages first.
I believe some bevel gears are in the future of this project.

I also had the idea of making a small vehicle that ran off a wound up rubber band.
That seemed like it might be fun, and much easier to model. But, where's the fun in that?
You won't learn anything taking the easy way out. We only learn from our mistakes.
So, the lesson here... Plan your linkages!

When I have the final product ready i will share it.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

1 million polygons served...or less.

So, today I learned a little bit about the file size limits on shapeways.

As an Autodesk inventor user, typically to export for shapeways i would go to...
Print->Send to 3d print service.
I check the unit of measure to make sure i'm sending the right size, and set the resolution to "High".
Click "Okay", and save the resulting STL file.

Up until today, I had always done smaller single object files.
Today I wanted make a multipart STL that was a batch of objects connected with sprues so that it could be processed at one items. This is what sent my file over the limit, and this was new territory for me.

At my current employer, all our files sit happily on the server and they only get opened in inventor.
So, if I can make it in inventor, then everything is a-okay. I don't have to worry about file formats or size or resolution or anything at all really.

In the 2D world of printing, I'm very comfortable. So much so that I authored a new set of guidelines for my previous employer, who had as many as 20 designers pumping out files much larger than they needed to be. But, that's all in the past. Here in the future, in the world of 3D, I've heard of some formats and I've heard of some software, but I have little experience. So, it looked like it might be time to do some research.
Well, like a typical guy, i knew enough to be dangerous, so I opted to not read the instructions and just started trying things.
The results were good. I didn't have to stray far from my old ways to do what I needed. The 2d world taught me that I can reduce file size if I sacrifice quality. So, the first thing I tried was reducing the resolution of the STL from high to medium. Out of curiosity i decided to press the print preview button.
Which to my delight showed me a preview of the resulting mesh, the resulting file size, as well as the polygon count. It still looked great, the facets were well above the level of detail i needed, and my file size was below the minimum now too. So i'm good to go now. Right?

WRONG... I was over the maximum polygon count for shapeways. The max polygon count is 1 million triangles. Lucky for us, inventor tells us in the preview window exactly how many wer're using right there in the print preview window. So... i tried again. This time i chose a custom resolution and set the "surface deviation" to something slightly higher. My polygon count went down even more. One more tweak to the surface deviation and i was good to go. My file was under the max file size, had less than 1 million polygons and still was an acceptable looking mesh. Now, what i need to do is get a prototype made at this resolution.
I'd like to see how the printer interprets this new resolution when it breaks the mesh down into layers of printed material.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 30, 2012

More Mini-Tools

Added a couple of hammers and a chisel to the Mini-Tool section of my shapeways store.

Claw Hammer Pendant
5lb. Sledge Hammer

I'd like to get every standard trade in here. So, I'm thinking there should be a saw to go with these hammers. A trowel for the masons.
What else? Help me out here...
Paint brush and... Come on, what else.
Some wire cutters?... Pipe Wrench?...
I don't want to forget anyone. Speak up if I forgot your trade. Labor day is coming, and I want the collection to be near complete by then.

Happy August

I feel like I'm getting a little side tracked from the moving parts projects. If you haven't seen my last posts. One of the coolest things about 3D printing is the fact that you can print pre assembled devices that have moving parts.
I seem to have more ideas than I have time. I have a whole slew of mini-tools to model still. Plus the moving parts projects. Yet I find myself making a dozen or so rings Saturday morning. Just experimenting. Nothing worth putting up for sale really, except one. It's the simplest one of all in terms of design. But, the message is tops :)

It's the "I am happy" ring.
You see, August is "admit you're happy" month. I don't know who's idea that was. But I like it.
There's too many people in my generation that fell in love with being sad.
Life's not always easy, but its certainly better than the alternative!
So, when your having a good day or you've had even a small win, ADMIT IT!
There's nothing wrong with being happy. :)

Check out my shop for more cool 3D printed items.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mini-Tool Collection

I posted two new items in my Shapeways store.
They're part of the new mini-tools collection that i'm working on.

Remember, this isnt' just some junk that i'm reselling from a slave labor manufacturer. There's no billions of these sold all over the world everyday, or in Walmart.  What you find here you won't find in a store or on any other website. I'm actually designing these things myself, and they're made per order on a 3D printer.

Also, Since anything i put on Shapeways is made to order, there's the potential for customization.
These models are too small to have text added. But, if you wanted something else made just for you, let me know. Send me a sketch, and I'll let you know if i can model it, and how much it will cost from Shapeways.
It can't be too organic looking though. Models of flowers or a bust of yourself isn't going to work.The software i'm using just isn't made for that sort of thing.

The Mini-Wrench...

The Mini-Drafing Compass...

If you want to check out all my stuff, you can visit...
My Shapeways Store or
My CafePress Store

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Raspberry Pi? Omg!

If your like me, you like gadgets. But, not the endless stream of junk that gadgets can be.
100+ new cell phone models per year is too much for me. It's like the white noise of gadgetry.
Every now and then something cool comes along.

For example when the iPhone came out. It wasn't just a phone, and it wasn't just an ipod+a phone. But it wasn't exactly a computer either. It was that thing that bridged some kind of cultural gap were technology takes a step back and says why aren't we getting anywhere? A few years pass and what we have now is wifi everywhere, smartphones are everywhere, apps are everywhere and people actually using them without much difficulty.

This Raspberry Pi isn't exactly that. But, it feels similar in a way. Similar in the sense that it has the potential to change the availability of technology within global society. It could very well play a roll in advancing civilization...or bringing it to its knees. As Uncle Ben said to the would be Spiderman.. "with great power comes great responsibility". But, when I say power, I don't mean it can crunch huge numbers super fast. I mean it's the most compact and affordable computer yet.
I mean look at this thing.. it's so small it almost seems like a hoax. But it's not.

Image "borrowed" from
A pretty good review from them BTW, worth reading.

In about the size of a cigarette pack, and for about $25, you can have yourself a fully functioning PC with a Linux OS (sans screen and keyboard). So, that means every kid everywhere can have a PC for tremendously cheap. Which, is pretty awesome if you asked me. But, so can every black market criminal and terrorist out there. It seems like in every crime drama the offender used a "burner" phone, making them untraceable. Welcome to the age of "burner" PC's. But, it's not all doom and gloom. There's going to be super geeks that will cyber bust them since all kids will grow up programming the mini PC's. It's just us poor old folk that will be left in the dust. They'll put us in Animatronic convalescent homes where their robots will take good care of us. Oh, btw, this thing is freaking awesome and I want one!!!

Check out the Raspberry Pi website for more info.
Thanks for reading, and don't steal my identity with your tiny computers please.


New Pendants In my Shapeways Store.

With all this fascination I seem to have with moving parts. It seemed fitting to make a series gear shaped pendants or key fobs, and make them Available on the 3D printing website Shapeways. All of these pendants are 25mm/1.0" in Diameter. The hole for the necklace to pass through is 2mm/0.08". The main difference in all of them is the central design or webbing.

I have some "moving parts" projects in the works to be done in WSF. But, those types of projects are a bit more complicated to design and can take a little bit longer to perfect. Before I get myself off track, I just wanted to put something up for everyone while I was plugging away on the larger stuff.

So, there you have it. A new series of necklaces. Erm, wait,I mean pendants...
I can't print a chain or string for you to put it on. :'(

First up, the Circular/Spiral Series...

Then there's the more traditional tapered web series. Anywhere from 2 to 6 spokes for the webbing..

I hope you enjoy these. For more design updates, follow my blog or check my store.
Shapeways Rithstore.
CafePress Rithstore.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Autodesk Inventor Template for Shapeways

So, if your not familiar with Shapeways. They are a 3D printing company.
Most of their available materials are priced by volume in cm^3. Except ceramics, ceramics are by surface area in cm^2. Since Inventor keeps track of these two properties (volume and area). We can leverage them to get an estimated cost of our model without having to upload it to shapeways for a quote.

For the purposes of this tutorial, i'm going to assume we are not using Vault.

So, assuming you're not using Vault, It's essentially three steps.

1) Create or open a template file.
2) Create a rule to set the iproperties
3) Define triggers to run that rule when a particular event occurs..

Step 1... Create or Edit a Template
Creating a template file is easy. Just make a new file, do whatever you need to do (Step 2 & 3), and then save it to your templates directory. But, not just yet. leave it open for now. If you don't know where the templates directory is, just run a search on your hard drive for one of the template file names, like "Standard (in).ipt".
Editing your existing templates can be more difficult. In order to edit a template, you need to set your project "workspace" or working directory to the templates folder. If you are going to edit your templates, i suggest making a project file specifically for this purpose so that you don't acidentally destroy your existing templates thinking. If you're not familiar with creating projects watch this video. If you're going to use inventor you're going to want to know what projects are and how to work with them.

Anyway, now that you have your template editing project set up, open up the template file you want to add this functionality to. probably the standard part and standard assembly templates.
I'll be editing my "Standard (in).ipt" file.

Step 2... Add a Rule
Whatever path you took in Step 1, you should have a file open read to by edited.
If not, something went wrong, and you may want to jump back up and re-read Step 1 .
So, we're going to be using ilogic rules to populate some custom iproperties. What we need to do is add a new iLogic rule. So, in the ribbon menu, hop on over to the "Manage" tab and choose "Add Rule".

iLogic - Add Rule

Enter a name for the new rule in the dialog, and click okay. (I named mine "CalcCost").

For the actual logic of the rule, copy and paste the code below into the editor window and hit okay.
IMPORTANT! If you're NOT using the standard inch template, the two lines below in bold may require modification. The end goal here is that variables cmvol and cmarea hold the value in cm's.
If you're base unit is something other than inches, you will need to adjust the forumula for the proper conversion to take place. Maybe some day soon i'll update this to auto detect the base unit and adjust accordingly, but for now, just be careful and adjust accordingly.

Dim cmvol As Double 
Dim cmarea As Double 

cmvol = iProperties.Volume * 16.387064
cmarea = iProperties.Area * 6.5416

iProperties.Value("Custom", "CeramicWhite") = (cmarea * .18) 
iProperties.Value("Custom", "CeramicBlack") = (cmarea * .19) 
iProperties.Value("Custom", "CeramicColor") = (cmarea * .20) 

iProperties.Value("Custom", "WSF")         = (cmvol * 1.40) + 1.50 
iProperties.Value("Custom", "WSFPolished") = (cmvol * 1.75) + 1.50 

iProperties.Value("Custom", "Stainless")       = (cmvol * 8.00) + 6.00 
iProperties.Value("Custom", "StainlessBronze") = (cmvol * 8.00) + 7.50 
iProperties.Value("Custom", "StainlessGold")   = (cmvol * 8.00) + 9.00

iProperties.Value("Custom", "Silver")         = (cmvol * 20.00) + 30.00 
iProperties.Value("Custom", "SilverPolished") = (cmvol * 20.00) + 35.00 

iProperties.Value("Custom", "BlackElastomer") = (cmvol * 2.00) + 3.00

If everything went according to plan, there was no error message, and we are ready for the next step.

Step 3...Set your Triggers
This is the last and arguably the easiest step.
An event trigger is just a way of associating our rule with some mundane action that we perform so that our rule runs without us having to run it manually. For example, if we want it to run every time we save the document we link the "Document Save" Trigger to our new rule. Now every time we save our document our Shapeways estimate is updated. So, without any further delay, click "Event Triggers" (it should be next to "Add Rule" which you clicked earlier.). What you're presented with is a list of events to choose from.

iLogic - Event Triggers
Highlight and event in the list, and click the "Select Rules..." button at the lower left of the dialog.
Check off the new rule you just created and hit okay. Repeat that for any of the other events listed, and you're rule will run any time that event occurs. Time to Save the template, because we're all done.

Now, go right click on your part in the browser and check out your new custom iproperties!!

I hope you enjoyed this and will find it useful.
I know i do (find it useful)!!
Oh btw, check out my Shapeways store!

Shapeways 3D Printing

There's something that's just totally awesome about printing in 3D. It gets even MORE awesome when you can print moving parts. Yes, I said moving parts. It opens a whole new world of possibilities. Theres a few companies online that will do it for you if you happen to have a model you need printed, and some money to put down for it.

I first saw 3D printing about 5 years ago and it was impressive then. But it still had a ways to go before it was a viable medium. At the time, it was basically an inkjet printer that sprayed water onto a bed of plaster of Paris. After each pass the bed would move down and more powder would be added. On goes the water again, repeat, repeat. The end product though was still brittle and easily damaged. While in many cases the process hasn't changed much, the materials have.

Shapeways and ponoko both offer similar materials such as glazed ceramic, stainless steel, silver, sandstone and a variety of plastics. Here's a link to the Shapeways materials page if you want to check them all out.

One product in particular really takes the cake though. On Shapeways it is called "white strong and flexible" this is the one where you can print moving parts and living hinges. On ponoko it goes by the name "durable plastic". It's actually nylon, so it's slippery by nature. Great for moving parts. If you do decide to design anything be sure to follow their design guidelines and check out the forums regarding moving parts. Lots of tips and tricks there.
Theo Jansen Strandbeest on Shapeways

The creatures created by Theo Jansen which I mentioned a few days ago have also found a home on Shapeways. Tiny versions of the massive beasts can now be printed and brought home. If you're not interested in making one out of junk in your garage.

I actually made one of my own in Autodesk Inventor.
I was hoping Mr. Jansen would let me share it on Shapeways as well. However I haven't received a response from my inquiry just yet. If I don't hear anything soon, i may try another method of contacting him. I put a small screen shot of my "beest" below. It's still a work in progress. i have the main chasis complete, but the engine has not been modeled and attached yet.

rith's beest chassis in progress  - - -  rith;s beest leg design.

Each product has a different cost basis and setup fee. Next time, I'll show you how to set up a template in autodesk inventor to give you a live estimate as you model.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cynacism and Poor Spelling

So, I was running a search on my hard drive this past Sunday.
I was looking for a particular .ai file. So I did what most people should know enough to do. I went to START > Search (I'm on a PC if you had not already guessed that). You would be surprise how many people don't know how to search for a file on their PC. Then if you try to tell them what a wildcard is. You generally get one of two looks.
 One is the eyes glazed over, hypnotic or catatonic look.

The other is more like they may have just poo'd their pants, but aren't quite sure yet, sometimes with a hint of internal hemorrhaging. We all have our weaknesses. I am terrible with English (my native tongue). I'm sure that people have read my emails and have imagined me as a caveman behind a keyboard. In fact, a certain English teacher nicknamed me "run on sentence". But I digress...(sp?)

I never did find the file I was looking for. I don't even remember what it was I was looking for, or why. Instead, stumbled onto some artwork that I had prepped and was ready to upload to CafePress for me to open up a shop. So I went ahead and did just that. Apparently now they offer a premium type of shop on a commission basis. In other words, it's free until you sell something. When you make a sale, then they take their cut of what you sell. No out of pocket costs for hosting, etc.
Not a bad considering what the premium shop is compared to the basic shop. The greatest benefit in my opinion to premium is that you can make "collections" of designs. With a basic shop each design was its own shop. Pretty lame. I suspect that's why I never opened a shop all those years ago.
At any rate, I now have two collections online at my store.

 The standard "soul and vessel" which is essentially my trademark image. I've been drawing and painting them since high school. This is just a single anonymous soul in a single vessel.

Then there's the "Hi Zombie" which I made all those years ago and recently re-discovered just in time for the approaching zombie apocalypse.

Check out my Bio for links to my other stores.
Like the one on