Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NXT-Based 3D Laser Scanner Creates LDRAW Parts

Name of Model: 3D Laser Scanner
Created by: Phillipe "Philo" Hurbain
Found at: http://www.philohome.com/scan3dlaser/scan3dlaser.htm
Details: Every once in a while, someone builds something that actually breaks new ground in the field of what can be done with LEGO parts. This machine is one of those revolutionary moments. For as long as we've had CAD programs that could be used to create virtual LEGO models, we've had problems with parts not being available. Sure, you can make do (especially if you're a robot that doesn't have those parts either), but it seems inevitable that you'll eventually come up with something that just cannot be modeled on the computer. Parts repositories for LDRAW are filled with elements created from primitive shapes by volunteers, so it's not all that surprising that difficult, more organic shapes that LEGO makes are often unaccounted for. That is, until now. This setup is capable of generating LDRAW parts from scratch, using nothing but an NXT kit, a small amount of other LEGO parts, a laser component, a webcam, and some software. While the process is not entirely automated, it's a huge step forward in making part creation for complex parts simpler, which in turn will allow the rest of us to design in LDRAW with a wider variety of parts.

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