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Ryan is just a college student with his own robot hand and Millenium Falcon, right? Well, Ryan just happened to make his own with the help of a laser cutter and some Python scripting that he cooked up to make his Solidworks and Blender design real.

As part of the amazing class: How to Make Almost Anything, I came up with some cool software to process 3d models. The program, (written in python), slices a 3d model into layers, which can then be cut and assembled. As an extension, I wrote an add-on that fits each layer to a grid and generates assembly instructions from the grid. Using a custom press fit construction kit and the generated instructions; you can assemble a cool looking 3d representation of the original 3d model.

He is using Flickr and PictoBrowser to host his photos for the project, and his work in class. When you combine his finely crafted designs with the website and video on Youtube, it adds up to some fine project documentation.

At this writing, it is end of the semester crunch, so Ryan is a bit under water…

I will have some time over the break to clean up my code and hopefully share it with the world (GPL via gitHub, googleCode, etc) which is the vision for it… The current system cranks out 2d cross sections in pdf format, which works great with corel draw for the laser cutter. The pdf should import into other programs fairly painlessly and once imported, would work great with mill / shopBot / waterJet. I really want to see this thing take off, and would love to work with you. The next 48 hours are going to be final project hell, but I should have some time after. (trying to finish a robot suitcase that follows you around the airport, segway style…).

Thanks to * via Mit-ers for the tip.

If you could make anything, what would it be? Have you used Solidworks or Blender? How could you use Ryan’s Python script to make three dimensional objects? Could you use other tools like a mill or Shopbot to create three dimensional objects from flat parts? What do you like to do when you document your projects? What is the effect of documentation on your making? Have you gotten positive responses about your work because of your web presence? What have you done with Personal Fabrication? Does your community have a Fab Lab, and have you had a chance to work in it?

Chris Connors

Making things is the best way to learn about our world.


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