Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Would you print me this equation?

I had a visit this week of a teacher interested on creating 3D prints out of equations. The thing is that most of the tools I used need to have a polygonal mesh in the form of an STL file in order to print an object.

I have found a couple of interesting tools. On one hand, Wolfram Alpha allows you to download any generated volume out of your equation, but you need to have PRO account. It seems you can have free PRO account for a couple of weeks, but later you have to pay a monthly fee. I did not explore that route any further.

The other is a piece of software called K3DSurf that does the job for free. It is interesting though it did not work in my Mac, not even after installing Qt3, but it worked in Windows XP. It is worth a try!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Misleading HP marketing

Not one but two friends brought to my attention the apparently innovative new product by HP touted as a 3D scanner and printer HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275.

I was surprised by the marketing information and curious to see what this device was capable of. If you've followed my blog, you've read about my late interest on 3D scanning and printing, so a 3D scanner that was being made by the biggest printer maker seemed like a big deal and maybe the signal of new devices to come.

However, after cutting through the marketing campaign, I was able to read some of the details of what the device can really do. That was the disappointing end of the history: what HP Topshot technology is about is not 3D scanning but to take pictures of objects.

Do I really need to say that of course the objects you can take pictures from can be 3D objects? Are not all the objects we use 3D? Ok, maybe you can claim that paper pages are not 3D (we can argue on the scale of it). But to me, HP marketing guys are stepping the line, as the two friends that came to me with this apparent great news are technical-knowledgeable people that just trusted the wording of the ads.

You can judge by yourself from this sentence on HP website mentioned above: "Scan images of 3D objects and post directly to the Web". But what it really means is: our Topshot scanner can take a picture of your objects besides of your flat documents. And we do that with several light sources so you get fewer shadows than if you take a picture with your phone.

But I can see that neither is recent news nor that I am alone in tagging this as misleading ...

Monday, February 06, 2012

Online slicing with Autodesk

I mentioned a while ago the cool software by Autodesk 123D Make that enable those with access to a laser cutter to create 3D objects from cardboard slices. The problem was that the software was only available for Apple computers. Now there is an online version that does the job no matter what operating system you use.

The image shows a cardboard version of my happy new year design you can get on

Update: A big oops if you use Linux ... (I do).