This week’s selection is “Digital Modelmaking: Laser Cutting, 3D Printing and Reverse Engineering” by Helen Lansdown.
Modelmaking is an ancient profession, where skilled makers produce replicas of familiar or unfamiliar objects with as much realism as possible. Traditionally, manual approaches were used, with hands operating tools to gradually form the models. In some cases, the hands themselves were the tools.
But in today’s world that’s changing significantly. There are many types of new automated tools that can aid the modelmaker in their projects, and enable the production of models in ways never before possible.
In this book Lansdown explores the use of some of these tools in the modelmaking profession. Specifically, she explores the use of laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC machines and also 3D scanners in modelmaking projects.
All of these technologies are digital in nature: a 3D (or 2D) model is created using software, and that model is used to drive the operations of the making device. The results can be more accurate, consistent and detailed than one can achieve using traditional manual tools, and can even be repeatedly executed to produce multiple copies.
Lansdown believes that these digital tools will not replace traditional modelmaking approaches, but instead will complement the toolset and be used when they make sense in a given project.
Lansdown begins by reviewing the fundamental modelmaking skills to ensure readers are up to speed with the techniques, even if they have never performed modelmaking previously.
Then there are chapters each explaining the very different technologies of laser cutting, 3D printing and CNC machining.
Lansdown also includes a chapter on reverse engineering, in which a real-life object is captured by 3D scanning. Why do this in modelmaking? Often a model might require a replica of a real-life artifact, and one of the best ways to model them is simply to digitally copy them. Once a 3D model is available, it can be 3D printed and then incorporated into a larger model under construction.
Finally, Lansdown reviews software that can be used to execute these digital strategies. Specifically, she uses Rhino3D for the 3D models and Adobe Illustrator for the 2D models used when laser cutting. There are plenty more software tools that could be used, but the principles described here would apply universally.
If you’re a traditional modelmaker and are interested in exploring more digital approaches, this could be the book for you.
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