3D Scanning and Printing at the ITS Advanced Media Studio

AMS senior staff member Taylor Absher uses the 700CX 3D scanner to create a facial profile of David Ackerman, Associate Vice President of ITS .Edu Services.

AMS senior staff member Taylor Absher uses the
700CX 3D scanner to create a facial profile of David Ackerman, Assoc. Vice President of ITS .Edu Services.

Although 3D scanning and printing technologies have existed for several decades, developments in the last few years have led to much more widespread use. New 3D tools provide a “personal factory” for individuals to easily scan, design, and produce detailed, custom 3D objects such as sculptural pieces, mechanical parts, and product prototypes. The options are limited only by a few technical requirements and your imagination. The newfound popularity of these technologies in both the academic world and elsewhere can be largely attributed to increased accessibility, versatility, and affordability of various 3D tools.

In response to the increasing demand for these types of personal manufacturing resources from clients, the ITS Advanced Media Studio (AMS) has formally integrated 3D scanning into our suite of professional services (which also includes state-of-the-art 2D and 3D printing, 2D scanning, and laser cutting). Using the AMS’s 3D Scanning Service, real-world objects can be scanned, resulting in digital 3D model files which can then be post-processed through a range of 3D computer-aided design (CAD) programs. Scanning real-world objects as a starting point for 3D modeling can reduce modeling time and allow for greater accuracy and reliability of 3D printed parts.

The complementary AMS Rapid Prototyping Service offers the additive manufacturing process of 3D printing, where physical objects are printed from the digital files described above—whether they were created from a 3D scan or from scratch in a 3D modeling program—layer by layer or print slice by print slice.

Together, these services offer invaluable resources for NYU community members interested in 3D fabrication work. Clients have submitted projects from the Gallatin School of Individual Study, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development’s Department of Art & Art Professions, Tisch School of the Arts Interactive Telecommunications Program, Tisch School of the Arts Photography & Imaging Program, Tisch School of the Arts Design for Stage & Film, the NYU Center for Advanced Digital Applications (CADA), the College of Dentistry, the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences Computer Science, and the School of Medicine.

AMS 3D Scanning Service

The Advanced Media Studio’s 3D Scanning Service now features Z Corporation’s hand-held ZScanner 700 CX—a self-positioning, real-time surfacing 3D laser scanner. The 700 CX has many distinct advantages over other models. Because it is a portable and non-contact laser scanner, it has great versatility and flexibility for scanning objects at an extensive range of sizes and complexities, from any angle. It can also scan objects of different sizes and with impressive accuracy. It can capture scan measurements of object geometries at a depth of field of 30 cm (12”) and with a sampling rate of 18,0000 measurements per second. Details can be as small as 50 microns—about the width of a human hair—with a maximum resolution capability of 0.1 mm (0.004”) in the Z axis.

The AMS 3D Scanning Service saves the scanned data into common industry formats used by 3D applications for further processing and/or rapid prototyping. The AMS can also arrange for offsite scans of objects that cannot be easily or safely transported or in cases involving sensitive data. Click here to see a video from Z Corporation of the ZScanner 700 in action.

AMS Rapid Prototyping Service

1335742347734The Advanced Media Studio’s Rapid Prototyping Service offers two great 3D printer technologies and price options for creating objects.

The fastest and most affordable 3D printer available at the AMS is Z Corporation’s ZPrinter 650, a high-performance composite powder and binder printer. The ZPrinter 650 can output complex geometries and fine detail with a minimum feature size of 0.004” (0.1 mm). It offers 24-bit color (390,000 colors per individual part) from five print heads, including a dedicated black, in a build size of 10”x15”x8”. This printer is well-suited for quick prototyping of model files and testing model build integrity.

The Advanced Media Studio’s Objet Connex500, a premium multi-material printer capable of printing fully-functional assembled objects, is available for printing more sophisticated or finalized objects. The Objet Connex500 uses a PolyJet Matrix, which allows for jetting of multiple model materials simultaneously, including composite Digital MaterialsTM on-the-fly, in a single print job. It can create objects with properties ranging from opaque to transparent, bendable rubber to hard, rigid plastic, in addition to ABS-like plastic. It offers a build tray size of 19.3”x15.4”x7.9” (490x390x200 mm), build resolutions of 600 dpi in X and Y-axis, 1600 dpi in Z-axis, and print modes from 30 microns (0.001”) to 16 microns (0.0006”).

3D software at the AMS

In support of these services, self-service workstations at the AMS offer access to a wide range of software packages for 3D modeling and the post-processing of 3D scanned files, including:

  • Autodesk Maya
  • Rhinocerus 3D (Rhino) for PC
  • Cinema 4D
  • MeshLab
  • Blender
  • Pixologic ZBrush
  • netfab Studio
  • SolidWorks for PC
  • Z Corporation ZPrint for PC
  • Geomagic Studio
  • TopoGun

AMS staff members are on hand to provide guidance in the best software to use for your project, and in preparing your digital files for 3D printing.

Learn more

Advanced Media Studio resources are available to students, faculty, and visiting artists in participating arts and science programs at NYU. For more information about the AMS in general, or about the 3D Scanning Service and Rapid Prototyping Service, explore the AMS website at www.nyu.edu/its/ams or send e-mail to the AMS staff at ams@nyu.edu. We will be happy to answer any questions and assist with planning your 3D-related project. Also, stay tuned this fall for another Connect article that will explore in more detail some of the interesting ways that NYU community members have been using AMS resources in support of their work and scholarship.

About the author

Shelly J. Smith is is a member of the NYU ITS Advanced Media Studio team.