Shaper reached out to us to test out their new “shaper trace” tool. The idea behind this tool is to be able to capture vector drawings quickly, easily, and with dimensional accuracy.
This task is something that is often a difficult thing to achieve when it comes to working with lasers or cnc machines. You typically have to capture images, skew the image to adjust for distortion, align them in CAD and scale them to try to get the dimensionality correct, then manually draw over them. This current kickstarter from them hopes to reduce that down to just a few clicks. In my quick testing, it works really well.
First you draw a picture. In most cases, you would be tracing a part or possibly a logo. I went with a sloppy smiley face.
Then, you place the supplied frame around the picture. You can see it has fiduciary markers on it, which allow the software to accurately judge the orientation and scale of the drawing.
Finally, you snap the picture and within a few seconds, you’ve got a very well done vector tracing. My results were pretty impressive, in terms of quality.
The whole process was pretty much instantaneous and the output was pretty clean and totally usable.
There are a few other features than simply outputting the vector of the outline. You should check their kickstarter for that.
Ultimately, I could easily see this being a very useful tool to keep around if you’re doing laser stuff especially. I suppose people who do more cnc stuff could benefit from it as well. My only complaint, if I had to have one, is that you’ve this plastic frame you need to keep track of. It would be great if the fiduciary markers could just be printed on your home printer when needed.
The kickstarter shows the retail price is $99. If you’re doing a ton of work like this, that’s a no-brainer price. This will, without a doubt, save you time and effort. If you’re just tinkering from time to time, you might find that a bit steep.