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

Chris Connors

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


  • Maxster

    It could use some blue leds

  • zof

    Would look cool if i could actually see it…. just because there is a camera in your cell phone doesn’t mean you should use it peeps.

    I know I should look at his site but too lazy to click it.

    • Chris Connors

      @zof
      You could see some great in depth detailed and sophisticated projects if you looked a bit further. The links into his other documentation shows thoughtful and careful work.

      Zof! Show us your work! What interesting things are your doing? How is your documentation going? What kinds of things are you building? How is your video editing coming along, Zof? If you can do better, show it off!

  • Robot Hacker
    • Chris Connors

      @Robot Hacker
      Thanks for the link. There is a lot of real neat stuff in Bert Simons work. Look for a post.

      From your handle, it is making me curious about your Robot Hackings. Please send a link with some photos, text or video.
      Chris

  • redsquid

    This reminds me of a project I’m currently working on. I scanned a series of MRIs of my wifes head. After shopping them to simplify the image I printed each slice on to card stock and cut it out to assemble a 3d model of her skull. Shh… it’s a xmas present. It’s a pretty caveman approach, but I’m old fashioned.

    • Chris Connors

      @redsquid
      Sounds like a great project! Send pictures after the presentation of gifts. Anybody have a 3d copy of their knee or hip?

  • asteronimo

    I read John Sharp’s book “Surfaces, Explorations with Sliceforms”.
    It’s a very inspiring book!

    I got so excited by the subject that I wrote some software to create the sliceforms myself with the computer.

    It’s a plugin for the free Google SketchUp software, you can find it at Public Art International’s website: http://www.public-art-international.com/catalog/product_info.php/products_id/200