Last Friday I set you all a mystery object quiz and today is the big reveal. So what was the object?
The object was a 4mm to the foot scale model of a spark arrestor for a steam engine. Now some of you may be wondering why I blogged about this here rather than on my other more relevant blog. Well firstly, blogging it here meant you didn't really get any clues as to what it was (which seemed fairer/meaner to me -- delete as you think appropriate), but even if you aren't interested in trains I thought you might be interested in knowing how it was produced: 3D Printing.
I'm not going to go into the full details of it's production here, I've blogged about it in excruciating detail in a more appropriate place, suffice it to say that I simply designed the model on my computer (using Blender), uploaded it to Shapeways, paid for it to be printed and then waited for it to arrive. I then painted it to match the model it was designed for (not very well I admit).
It was a fairly painless process (3D geometry can give you a cracking headache) and I'm happy with the result. There is no way I could have produced the model in any other way due to the fine detail it contains. While the process is still fairly expensive (although for small models the postage cost is the annoying factor) I think as the technology improves and the price drops 3D printing will eventually become something we all take for granted and use on a regular basis. I know I'll certainly be printing more things in the future -- I'm already in the process of modelling a couple of other small items.