Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cat Scan

Welcome to the inaugural post of CAD CAM Zen. Why am I making this blog and post today? Well, mostly because it snowed about 7 inches here in Michigan, the roads were icy, and it seemed like it would be more fun than chipping ice off of a windshield. 

Originally I was going to name this blog CAD CAM Fun, but decided since I am attempting to lead a balanced lifestyle, and for me CAD is a part of that balance, that CAD CAM Zen was a more fitting title. 

I'm going to save the personal history, CAD CAM experience, education, hardware, etc for another post. Today, it's about balancing out the drudgery of shoveling snow with something fun. In this case, since the internet loves cats, I made a 3D model of my daughters cat.

Recently I saw this article:  123D Catch for the Masses which explained how to do a cat scan (pun intended). 
 Link to article

Rather than just share the fun on Facebook, I decided to have some fun and try it myself. Cats are very zen, leading a carefree life, until they need something from you that is.

After installing the 123D Catch app on my phone, I fired it up and waited for the cat to fall asleep. Fortunately that doesn't take too long, as the cat sleeps approximately 98.3% of the time. From there, you need consistent lighting, without sharp shadows, to take thirty or more pictures of the object to scan. Don't worry about doing it perfectly, the app will help. 

Once you complete taking the pictures, the app automatically uploads them to the cloud. There, the cloud processors use the pictures, camera positions, colors and other magic to make a 3D model of your part. Using the cloud for the heavy lifting is way better than having your smart phone do all the work, mostly because your phone might catch fire if it tried to do all of those calculations on one battery charge. When finished, the cloud returns an .obj file, which is basically a triangulated mesh format with images for texture mapping. You can then use a computer product like MeshMixer to edit the file and output it as an .STL file, .VRML file, etc.

Really, that's it, and you have a model you can 3D print, mill with CAM software, or just do a screenshot of and post to YouTube. At this point, you can load the data into other programs for smoothing and refining, but not today, there is still snow to shovel.

Here is a picture of the cat, during the 1.7% of the time she is not sleeping, for comparison purposes. 

I'm not sure where this blog will go, I think the journey will be more enjoyable than the destination. Let me know what you think, and if you try 123D Catch, share something you have scanned.

Interested in downloading my daughters cat, try this link

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