Getting Sculpted with Shapeshifter

If your burning desire to print complex shapes has been constantly subdued by the difficulty of intricate 3D modeling, Project Shapeshifter is the tool for you. Currently in beta, Shapeshifter is Autodesk’s free application dedicated to simplifying complex models.

Upon opening the app for the first time, fellow Autodesk intern Arnab Mukherjee created not one — but four — Shapeshifter-crafted sculptures in one afternoon. The results were impressive:

To make this sculpture, Arnab started with one of the pre-loaded templates (users can choose from vase, bowl, ring, bracelet, knot and more) and tinkered with the various slider controls until he was satisfied with the shape.

The Shapeshifter interface exists entirely within your browser, making it easy to use. Despite its simple presentation, there are many layers of customization that allow the user to fully shape an imagined object.

Sliders offer complete control over each aspect of the model, from more basic characteristics like thickness, color and spin profile to advance characteristics like wave frequency and amplitude. Pre-loaded patterns fill the bottom tray, allowing users to change the pattern throughout the modeling process.

Once the sliders have been adjusted to create the desired shape, you simply export for 3D printing and there it is: a unique, beautifully-intricate Shapeshifter sculpture.

You can experiment with the beta platform by making your own Shapeshifter object using the various controls. Or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, hit the randomize option in the top menu and print your result.

 

MeshMixer 101: 3D Printing

 

The Meshmixer 101 playlist is a series of videos to get you up and running with Meshmixer.

This video will show you a typical workflow for healing a capture from 123D Catch, then printing with a 3D printing service.

Featured User : Bryan Perry Keeps It Level

We have a saying in English about being 'up a creek without a paddle'.  What that means is: you're in deep trouble and there's no way out.  Well, 123D Circuits user Bryan Perry's pump station monitor circuitry is built to prevent such a situation - because it's all about keeping the levels of water (or whatever's in the tank) within safe levels.

When we found out a 123D Circuits user was designing something that's part of a modern civic infrastructure we just had to feature him.  It's this kind of circuit that keeps cities from flooding in winter and reservoirs at proper levels year-round.

In a nutshell here's how they work: There's a water storage tank underground.  Inside are three floats at different levels.  When water rises it makes the bottom float rise, then the middle float.  When this happens the circuit tells a pump to move some water out of the tank and thus lower the level of water.  When the water drops below the first two floats the circuit then tells the pump to turn off.  All good, BUT if the water was rising so fast the third float rises the circuit will turn on the second pump.  For an interactive breadboard simulation where you can click on the "floats" - check out this extra circuit Bryan made.


In the picture above the two blue clips can detect current flowing through a wire and are how the circuit can tell if the pumps are actually running or not.  If they're not running when they're supposed to the circuit will send Bryan a text (see the Sprint box, that's what that's for). The black cylinder is a backup 5V battery and the green terminal blocks on Bryan's circuit connect to the pumps and floats.  The microcontroller on the board is a SPARK CORE.
The board below was designed in 123D Circuits.

Bryan pressed the "Order" button and 10 days later the PCBs arrived. 

 Want to get your hands on Bryan's circuit?  No problem, it's right here.  Have a look, fork the design, and ask him a question like what was his inspiration for this design in the "Discussion" tab.  Enjoy.

 

You Can Simulate a 555 Timer in 123D Circuits

It is an absolute joy to make this announcement about a tiny, unassuming chip that has changed the world:  You read it first here.  You can simulate a 555 in 123D Circuits!

Whether you knew it or not, we've all touched a 555.  They're inside appliances like toaster ovens, microwaves, alarm clocks, little robots, zillions of toys, early computers and even a few spacecraft.  They're everywhere!

Don't believe us?  According to their original 1971 inventor, Hans Camenzind, production has steadily ramped up to an astonishing 1 BILLION 555s being made per year, and they crossed that threshold in 2003!


For the announcement we put together an example circuit that when connected to a servo lets you control the angle (or position) by turning a potentiometer.  Click the PLAY button (upper right) in the frame below to start the simulation, and click on the blue circle (potentiometer) to change the angle of the servo.

Example 555 servo controller.

The example shows the 555 acting like an oscillator, which is the behavior of one of it's three modes: Astable mode.  The other two modes: Monostable mode, where it acts like a timer, and Bistable mode, where it acts like a Schmitt-Trigger are equally as useful.  

We've given you the tools, now for the challenge!  What can you build with a 555 in 123D Circuits?

 

The Mighty Midwest Presents: The Chicago Public Library

 

This week in the Mighty Midwest we take a look at how 3D printing is changing the way visitors experience their local public library. Libraries have always existed as repositories of learning and information, and as technologies change there is a huge opportunity for them to adapt and bring those technologies to the masses. The Chicago Public Library has set up a Maker Lab in their downtown branch to bring new technologies to the people of Chicago. In the video below you can see how this Maker Lab is transforming the library experience by bringing things like 3D modeling and 3D printing, laser cutting, and more to the average person.

MeshMixer 101: MeshMix

The Meshmixer 101 playlist is a series of videos to get you up and running with Meshmixer.

In this video, learn how to drag and drop parts onto your model to create a unique 3D mashup.

Putting the “3D” in 123D Circuits

We've been blogging a lot recently about 123D Circuits projects and users but it's time we talked about the "3D" in the name.

While circuits are typically designed in a 2D UI the 123D Circuits app will generate a perfect-fitting 3D enclosure for your Circuit.  Check out this 3D printed example of an enclosure generated by 123D Circuits: The Theremin.Theremin with Enclosure

Keep reading to check out how easy 3D modeling an enclosure can be with 123D Circuits.

Read more »

The Mighty Midwest presents: Tom Burtonwood

 

On this week's installment of the Mighty Midwest we have fan favorite, Tom Burtonwood. Tom is making great strides in showcasing Chicago as an epicenter of art and innovation. Tom, a Tinkercad and 123D Catch user, is an artist residing in Chicago, and he uses 3D scanning, 3D modeling, and 3D printing to transform the way we understand objects. Tom shares his knowledge of 3D printing in a number of capacities, including giving classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, teaching students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and helping people new to the 3D printing at the Firecat Projects gallery. Tom also joined us in San Mateo for the Bay Area Maker Faire this last May. If you saw our video from last week then you got a little sneak peek of Tom's work.

Earlier this year we had the chance to visit him all over Chicago to see how Tom helps diverse groups of people understand this new 3D printing technology that's sweeping the nation.

 

Be sure to keep up with Tom's latest projects on his website and on his Thingiverse account. 

Harsha P’s Clock Simulation is Right-on-Time

123D Circuits user and Instructables contest finalist Harsha P is back in the news again with his most excellent digital clock simulation.  Try it out, press the PLAY button in the upper right corner:

"Hours" by Harsha P.


Although Harsha does make printed circuit boards he has mostly focused on the breadboard simulation in 123D Circuits.  He says his favorite aspects of the application are the multimeters that can pinpoint the voltage at any node and measure the current through loops.  We agree, the multimeters are great, check out an example below:

three multimeters shown in breadboard simulation


There's more... Read more »

PLANT3D: Turning tiny office spaces into miniature gardens

How many times have you looked at the space in between your desk and your neighbor’s desk and thought, man, I wish there was a plant there? Or had a similar reaction upon viewing a groove in the wall? Or the narrow crevice between two armchairs?

Anyone faced with this predicament would have been stuck without a solution, as no manufacturer makes planters on such a small scale. Luckily, we live in a world with 3D printing! So I decided to act on my desire to turn tiny office spaces into miniature gardens for hearty, low-maintenance air plants.

News surrounding 3D printing tends to focus on the big things; 3D-printed houses, pieces of furniture, and custom prosthetics receive a lot of media attention. But the potential of 3D printing for small-scale life enhancements should not be ignored.

To make such small planters, I used 123D Design’s pre-loaded selection of primitive tools. Find my step-by-step instructable here and make your own tiny planters. In approximately fifteen minutes, you too can design crack-filling little gardens for all the cracks in your life.