Feeds

How hard is 3D printing?

Modelling technology takes shape

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

If you want to make your own gun or harboured a desire to make a boat perhaps the device you need is a 3D Printer. In principle it sounds easy: just download a 3D model from the net, throw it at the printer, and whatever you desire comes out the other end.

MakerBot The Replicator

MakerBot's The Replicator

The truth is, it’s not quite that straightforward. We used a Makerbot Replicator to build a physical manifestation of the El Reg vulture. The first challenge was to find an existing model of a vulture, online. All the decent-looking ones and quite a lot of the rubbish ones were expensive.

The Pirate Bay has a section called Physibles but there isn’t much there other than bits of guns and a model of Mark Zuckerberg’s head. Even the much richer model stream of Thingiverse only yielded an eagle.

El Reg vulture in Sketchup

El Reg vulture in Sketchup

This meant that the only viable option was to build something from modelled on The Register logo. I imported The Register masthead bitmap into SketchUp – the free 3D modelling application Google recently sold to Trimble – and traced around the outline of the vulture head with the line and arc tools. This gave me a modelled, albeit, flat head.

Next, using the push tool I lofted it into a 3D shape, choosing a round eye rather than an accurate Reg Vulture eye because of something I had planned for later where a complicated intrusive shape wouldn’t have worked. So with a simple 3D shape modelled it was time to meet the Maker. The Replicator uses the STL file format (alternatively standing for STereoLithography or Standard Tessellation Language depending on who you ask). Fortunately, there is a plug-in for Sketchup which generates .STL files.

Greplicator software showing model

Greplicator software showing model

The file can then be read into the Makerbot software called ReplicatorG which produces the GCode script the model is built from. ReplicatorG helps make the model suitable for printing by positioning the shape on the platform and scaling it to fit, all the way up to the maximum size the Replicator can handle.

The essential guide to IT transformation

Next page: Crash and burn?

More from The Register

next story
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
Just in case? Unverified 'supersize me' iPhone 6 pics in sneak leak peek
Is bigger necessarily better for the fruity firm's flagship phone?
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?