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Etching Glass Using Vinyl Stencils

29 Apr

I’ve been using my vinyl cutter recently to create custom glass etchings.  Vinyl resists the acids in glass etching cream making it perfect for high resolution stenciling.  The cream I use is can be found here (I picked some up at a Michael’s craft store).  You’ll want to be careful and read the full Material Safety Data Sheet for armour etch.  You can etch most glass but not pyrex (Borosilicate).   The results are pretty neat:

Coaster with an etched crane

Coaster with an etched crane

To start the process, you’ll need to create a vinyl cut and apply it to your glass:

Applying the vinyl negative

Applying the vinyl negative

Now, put on your gloves (seriously) and paint on some etching cream.  I also use an exhaust fan in a nearby window for added safety:

Paint on your etching cream and wait

Paint on your etching cream and wait

After about 5 minutes, I rinse off the etching cream.  The MSDS mentions that baking soda can help neutralize some of the acids; you’ll want to flush everything with lots of water.  Here’s the final result:

Final result of vinyl resisted glass etch

Final result of vinyl resisted glass etch

More photos via flickr: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjz5247h

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Kinect + Blender 3D Scene Reconstruction

7 Apr

One of my current projects is to find a cheap and accurate way to 3D scan faces for the creation of custom coins and memorabilia;  mostly, I want my face on a 3D printable coin which can then be cast more cheaply in metal.  I had the opportunity to borrow a Microsoft Kinect which has 2 cameras and a structured light infrared laser projector.  One camera captures the infrared laser grid as projected into the room and constructs a depth map in realtime of the entire view.  The other camera captures visible light e.g. normal images and video.  I used the kinect to capture images and depth maps and reconstructed the scene in 3D using blender.  To dump the data, I used libfreenect‘s ‘record’ program, part of the OpenKinect project.

Here’s is a camera panning animation of the result created in blender using a displacement modifier on a heavily subdivided plane:

This is the unedited depth map that I took from the ‘record’ program output:

Kinect depth map produced by libfreenect's record utility

Kinect depth map produced by libfreenect's record utility

I had to scale and move the corresponding image texture to fit the geometry properly.  This is partly due to the slight distance between the cameras.  Here is the slightly altered texture image captured by the kinect:

Kinect image captured using libfreenect's record utility and slightly edited in gimp to align

Kinect image captured using libfreenect's record utility and slightly edited in gimp to align

This is the depth data as determined by blender’s ambient occlusion rendering:

Blender render showing depth via ambient occlusion

Blender render showing depth via ambient occlusion

I will soon compare these results to the free version of DAVID-laserscanner.  I’m currently waiting on the arrival of a very cheap laser line module ($2.50 to be exact) that will be used in conjunction with a high-def camera as input to the DAVID laserscanning software.  Stay tuned.

UPDATE: I’ve attached the .blend file for exploring in blender.  Textures are embedded.  Blender 2.56 Beta or later is recommended.

Mechanical and Kinetic Sculpture at Sprout

3 Feb

Tonight I visited Sprout in Somerville, MA for the Mechanical and Kinetic Sculpture meeting with Julian Gomes.   Also in attendance was Mike Beach who runs a Mechanics Steampunks Engineers Tinkers class, Joey Tochka, another Mike, and Jon Rosenfeld who helped tune and demo the lathe and mini mill at sprout.  Check out The Mechanical and Kinetic Sculpture wiki.

Trying to cut a steel bike frame on the lathe.  We lacked the proper cutting fluid to get it cutting smoothly.

Trying to cut a steel bike frame on the lathe. We lacked the proper cutting fluid to get it cutting smoothly.

Once tuned, we used the mill to create slots in aluminum.  Slotted aluminum happens to be perfect for creating a sliding tripod used in stereo photography.  I will likely be making a custom rig for my camera in the next few days to improve the quality of my anaglyph photos.  Here’s the mill in action after a tune-up:

I also recently ordered a laptop which already has me thinking about what design I will vinyl cut for the top.  This is what I’m thinking so far:

Blender screenshot showing bezier curve design

Blender screenshot showing bezier curve design

Using the Export Curve to Svg Path script for blender, I created the following design in inkscape which is almost ready to be cut on a vinyl cutter.

Vector design derived from blender file.  Made in inkscape.

Vector design derived from blender file. Made in inkscape.

Download the flower of life laptop skin svg file; I released the inkscape file into the public domain at openclipart.org.  You can scale the svg and vinyl cut it to fit your laptop for free — this is for a wide-format laptop.