Jesse DePinto shared with a small group at the Meetupery last night. He likes any kind of technology in general but is really into 3D scanning techniques, 3D printing, and is constantly thinking about the how 3D scanning can be used in various industry and even by hobbyists.
At the start of the evening, someone in attendance (I can’t remember who at this moment) stated that a friend of theirs just built something recently, prototyped it, and is now getting manufacturers estimates. They are hoping on making some money selling it. They were talking about how long it was going to be until it was commonplace for everyone, whenever they were missing a part, to be doing that, scan something that they already had and reproduce it to replace one that they were missing.
Carol, and her husband, Lee were in attendance. Carol is looking to make some parts for a window in a condo in Chicago that she is renting. Apparently it is an old window, and you can’t easily get what is needed to keep the air out.
Carol was already aware of 3D scanning / printing technology and sought it out as a solution to her problem. About her project, she said,
“The windows are very, very old, and you cannot get the parts. I didn’t know what to do. They’re not going to replace the windows, because the condo association doesn’t have the money, and I had a tenant that is freezing to death, so I’m looking for a solution.”
In regards to Carol, Jesse said
“You’re one of the 1% that know that this applies to what they want to do.”
So… on to Jesse DePinto…
Jesse is a mechanical engineer. He was involved in making manufacturing processes for assembly and fabrication. When he was bored one day, he started watching TED talks, and of course that’s where the inspiration came from. Jesse said,
“I became obsessed over 3D printing a few years ago, the fact that it is this really powerful technology, the fact that you can ship stuff wirelessly to somebody across the world. You don’t need to pay for shipping. You don’t need to pay for middlemen to be selling your product. You can just-in-time manufactured products, fully customized.
“…it’s similar to this [Meetupery] where it is a co-working… space. It’s where a lot of engineers go in Milwaukee, because they can all share their tools. They share stuff like 3D printers, CNCs, laser cutters, T-shirt screen printers, that type of stuff.”
They started the meetup group about a year and a half ago. It started with four people. It’s now grown to over 140 members on the Meetup website. It’s not uncommon that 30 or 40 people come out every month, and it’s all people who are interested in the potential of this technology and where it can go.
“Back before the 3D scanning … I was selling 3D printers… the maker bot replicator 2… we were one of the first retail stores selling these. We were in the Grand Avenue Mall, and had a popup shop selling these. It wasn’t worth the time we were putting into the retail side of it, but it taught us a lot about who is trying to get into this, where the players are, who can benefit the most… and so we spun that off into my current company right now, which is Voxel Metric.”
Voxel Metic is Jesse’s company that makes handheld 3D scanners that you can plug into a computer for healthcare applications. They are the 3D scanning experts in town who make custom solutions in the medical world.
So why is 3D printing so cool? This is something that you can relate to. This is a story about a guy who works for shapeways.com. If you don’t want to buy a 3D printer, but you want to use one, you can upload a 3D model that you want printed, and they will print it in New York in their factory of dozens of 3D printers and ship it to you in the mail.
The process of getting something 3D printed typically starts by using CAD (computer aided design) software and 3D modeling software where you draw 3-dimensional objects. This is usually a job for an industrial designer.
Throughout the night Jesse made references to 3D scanning actual people. He said,
“An episode of the TV show, The Big Bang Theory… glamorized the whole 3D printing culture that’s happening right now. So you can replicate yourself. This is getting into novelty. It’s cool, it’s new.
I actually know a company in Chicago where you can get yourself 3D scanned and they can print you. They can put your head on Rambo’s body, or they can put your head on a chess set, and you can be the queen if you want.
They sell to people who do remote control airplanes. They can be 3D printed in the cockpit of their own plane so they are the pilot. That’s the newest fad that they are seeing.
The fact is that there is utility for 3D printing and scanning and also complete novelty. Something that’s fun that hasn’t been able to happen before at a reasonable price.”
So, the question is, how do you actually make the model that you want to 3D print?
Being a mechanical engineer, I grew up on CAD software. 3D modeling is kind of second nature to me, but that’s because I’ve spent my whole life doing it. Not everybody knows how to model in 3D software, and I wouldn’t recommend people spend the time to master it if you’re just going to make one part.
A lot of the times CAD is just not practical. Not only do you have to know how to use this software, but you have to take the time to measure each dimension.
But, what do you do if it’s a completely new product and you don’t want to design in CAD, and the files aren’t already available for download online? Then what do you do? That’s where 3D scanning come in!
“Makerbot just came out with a 3D scanner. What you can do now is put an object on a turntable, and there are lasers at the top that beam on the object and then a camera determines how the laser beams are being distorted based on the geometry that’s sitting in front of the lasers.
This is the cheapest… desktop scanner right now. It’s $1400.”
Jesse said that the thing with 3D scanning is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Jesse’s company created a handheld 3D scanner. It’s almost like the red lasers that scan the bar codes at the grocery store. You pick it up in your hands and pull the trigger. It looked fairly easy to master… a lot easier than teaching yourself CAD, that’s for sure!
Regarding the history and cost of 3D scanning, Jesse stated,
“The technology for scanning is getting marked up a lot more than it should be. Similar to how 3D printing was five years ago. It’s now coming down that price curve right now.”
When xbox came out with Kinect, that actually was the fastest selling consumer product according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
What that did is basically bring the price down from $20,000 to $200, so essentially people can 3D scan at home with the same technology that people had five years ago for ten to a hundred times cheaper.”
Now, there are actually smartphone apps, like 123D Catch, where you can use an iPhone or an iPad to scan an object. If you wanted to 3D print a little miniature of your laptop, so you could put it into your kid’s dollhouse, you just take pictures all around it, from the top to the bottom. You take around 30 to 50 pictures, and upload them directly to their cloud database right from your phone. They have technology to determine where each picture is captured from and merges them together for a 3D model.
“It’s cool because it’s cheap and it’s easy, but it has limitations.”
He says if you have concave or convex surfaces like a water bottle or beer bottle, it doesn’t work so well. You also have to have perfect lighting conditions.
About the 123D Catch app, Jesse said,
“It’s not as easy as it sounds, but it’s worth a shot because it is free.”
Jesse went on to share other applications of 3D scanning technology. And at the end of his presentation he did 3D scans of a few of the attendees.
We’d like to thank Jesse once again for volunteering his time to share with those how attended the session last night at the Meetupery. We know it was very informative and hope it inspires more creativity in the Milwaukee area!