Make Architecture



#10 – 3D bulbscan

So this week, after I attended the 3d-scanning tutorial with John, I tried to figure out how to scan something myself. Following the range of things I’ve been interested in lately, I scanned a lighbulb.

First, I mounted the lightbulb on a small piece of foam core using hot glue, so that it would stand up straight, and so that I could easily center it on the 3d-scanner’s turntable. What follows are some of the little problems I encountered and how they were easily fixed.

When I first set the machine up, it was clear that its focal length was too long, by this colorful window on the right, showing me that the scanner was reading the background panel.

With John's help, I set the distance reading manually (rather than autodistance) to 670mm.

This brought the lightbulb into range and with some adjusting of the 'laser power' setting, I was able to get a good color range on the lightbulb itself. The laser power setting was important because the lighbulb is reflective, and these reflections sometimes make the machine think the object is spiky.

With the turntable axis set and the lightbulb centered over the turning point, I was then ready to do a multi-shot manual (so that I can indicate when I want it to take the next picture) series of 3d scans. I did them at 45 degrees from each other, since the reflectivity of the bulb was causing falloff at the edges.

After two (of eight) scans.

After all the scans, but before the separate files were merged. It was at this point that I could have adjusted the placement of the different scans (in case they didn't line up perfectly) before merging them. Also, note the tiny spikes that appear at the roundest part of the bulb - this is because the laser is literally bouncing right back at itself.

Once the files were merged, I then played around with the tools in the 'polygons' toolbar - these helped to smooth out the file, to remove the spikes (or normalize them to their surroundings, and finally to fill all the holes based on the geometry surrounding the borders. This part is amazing. Note the darker patch at the top of the bulb where the computer interpellated the curvature of the surroundings to fill in a totally legit-looking bulb top.

this is a bit of a bad picture, but you can see here that the toolbar for filling holes is comprehensive - you can set a threshold for the size and the shape of these holes too.

SO – I haven’t yet had time to play with the 3d file itself yet – I exported it to an IGES File that should work well with Rhino. My only concern, and something that I expected to be much better about this process, is the lack of definition in the threading of the socket.

Tom suggested I cover the bulb in powder before scanning next time, and John even suggested I very lightly sandblast it (I think that would be too scary for me! It might pop the bulb!). Either way, it’s important to reduce the shine and reflectivity on a glass object like that, and before using the 3d scan for something useful (like milling it out of wax, for example), I think that I would like to try another round of scanning that involves an abrasive agent on the bulb, especially on the metal part at the bottom, so that the threading will come through.


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Instructor: Nick Gelpi TA: Skylar Tibbits TA: Varvara Toulkeridou
Class Times, Monday, 1-4pm - room 5-216
4.184 is an intensive introduction to methods of making explored through a wide range of brief but focused 1-week exercises. We'll engage the real and leave behind representation in the focused context of this class gaining skills for utilizing a range of fabrication machines and technologies from lasercutting, waterjet, 3D printing, welding, formworking-molding, casting, gears, joints and composites.
In this workshop we'll constrain ourselves to the territory of the 1:1. Students will represent architectural constructions at full scale and develop a more intimate relationship with technology by engaging the tools and techniques that empower us. We will gain access to the most cutting edge machines and technologies in the MARS lab at the Center for Bits and Atoms.
The second layer of information for this course will be to look at a series of case studies in which construction methods and technologies have played a dominant role in the design process .
Over the past 20 years, architects have focused on the technology of representation to create new ideas of what architecture could be. Looking back today, much of that research failed to substantially change the way we design buildings by focusing on apriori formal configurations. This class makes the contention that this failure comes from a lack of considerations of the potentials within fabrication knowledge. We look to the future of what building might become, given the expanded palette of personalize-able technologies available to us as architects. Students will participate in curious technological and material investigations, to discover the potentials, known and unknown, for these various technologies.
The sub-disciplines of what's drawn and what's built have been compartmentalized and disassociated as the representational tools of architecture have distanced themselves from the techniques of making. At the same time the technologies for “making” in architecture have provided us with new possibilities for reinventing how we translate into reality, the immaterial representations of architecture.


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