This week’s selection is the incredible 3D printed garden tractor by Reddit contributor “FeckMeGently”.
This print is the result of a quite amazing feat of 3D scanning, 3D modeling and printing.
This garden tractor is quite detailed, and contains a large number of difficult components to 3D print. Although FeckMeGently doesn’t say in their post, it’s highly likely the 3D model was split into multiple parts for printing, and then subsequently assembled.
More challenging was obtaining the 3D model of the garden tractor. Apparently it was captured using a Microsoft Kinect depth camera combined with Skanect software.
I’ve used this particular combination of equipment to perform 3D scans — many years ago. I’m genuinely surprised it still works, as that seemed to have been discontinued quite a while ago.
The Kinect has a relatively low resolution depth array, meaning there is a lot of work required to sweep its active view over the subject.
Even worse, the tractor has all kinds of nooks and crannies that FeckMeGently would have had to angle into to capture the full geometry. The scanning operation required viewing both the laptop screen and the Kinect and the subject all at the same time. It’s very tricky to execute, and I can attest to that from personal experience. That is quite a feat of scanning!
Skanect produces a point cloud that must then be processed into a 3D model. This requires a lot of tedious work to carefully edit the point cloud to remove extraneous bits and keep only the target structure. FeckMeGently explained:
“Honestly I did several hours of cleanup and modeling to make the printable model. I won’t lie, point cloud cleanup IS a pain.”
FeckMeGently used MeshLab to edit the point cloud and then export a rough meshed 3D model of the tractor. It was then process further in Meshmixer to fix up any geometry issues. This resulted in the final garden tractor 3D model, which was apparently 3D printed on a home built 3D printer.
While the Kinect and Skanect are paid products, it’s important to note that FeckMeGently used entirely free software tools, MeshLab and Meshmixer, to produce the printable garden tractor model.