Week 5 - 3D Scanning and Printing

group page // repo source files // objectives


hero shot >



(note: no file for scan in repo; they’re huge. We’re pinching electrons here)

objectives >

files >

link to files here

design rules >

I own an assortment of printers:

For this exercise, I benchmarked one of my Ender 3’s, which lives in my apartment. I printed each of the linked .stl’s on the 3d printing page.

The results of my benchmarking can be seen on my fablab’s group page.

additive object >

To demonstrate something that would be difficult to make subtractively, I chose to make a microfluidic device. The idea is that some of the microfluidic channels in the print can be drilled, but not all (the bit would have to be angled around a corner, but that’s physically impossible. Alternatively, a drill could come in from the outside, but that would result in an extra hole).

I chose the Tesla valve as my demonstration structure.

cad >

After doing a bit of research on how the Tesla valve works and getting a feel for the geometry, I began implementing a design in SolidWorks.


SolidWorks has a great feature called thin extrusions, which can be used to make extrusions off single line sketches, rather than closed loops.

This used to really annoy me; when I first started my MCAD journey, spending a ton of effort working on a complex sketch only to figure out I hadn’t closed it properly was a big problem. I usually spent a lot of time debugging my sketch, looking for discontinuities. If the sketch was otherwise fine, SolidWorks would suggest a thin extrusion.

Anyways, thin extrusions are more than just an undesirable outcome; they’re also a useful feature.

For geometries with uniform width, thin extrusions can be much quicker to put down and manipulate than defining multiple closed contours. They also prevent additional bugs from overlapping closed contours.

The Tesla valve is a “path-like”, simple geometry, which is a great place to use thin extrusions.


Patterning the body to extend the tesla valve, and then finally combining into one single body.

tesla tesla tesla

I later slim down the design to fit the form of the valve a little more.


printing >

First attempt at the print. Forgot to use brim for bed adhesion; part happened to have a large surface area, so some warping occurred. additive

Reduced the area of the print but extrude-cutting the profile of the “valvular structure” (quoted from Tesla himself). additive

Hero shot: additive

scanning to printing >

I followed this sequence:

scan >


While I was visiting the MSI fablab, Dan helped scan me with a kinect in real-time. I rotated slowly on a swivly chair similar to how Dan did his scan for his assignment.

We usedreconstructme. The software exports in .obj, .ply, and .stl.

cleanup >

I used meshmixer to clean up the generated model and close open surfaces.

It took me a bit to get used to the controls, but it’s reminiscient of some of the selection tools used in other 3d environments, whether that’s Microsoft’s 3d VR tools or Planetary Annihilation, a 3d RTS game that takes place on spherical maps.

importing file >


spherical select and deleting stray triangles >

scan scan scan scan scan

cutting the stl with a plane >

scan scan

patching holes >

scan scan scan scan scan

gcode >

cura, like normal.

resizing imported .stl >

scan scan scan scan

realizing that I need supports so I don’t look sad >

scan scan

printing >

I’m blue, da ba dee ba da dai…

scan scan

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