Phoenix Business Journal: How can technology further art?

Technology is an awesomely creative endeavor – innovation and inspiration is combined with science to create new products and tools for people and businesses. It is creative, but it’s not art. In “How can technology further art” I look at what technology can do to open new ways for people to express themselves and to make art more accesable.

Arizona Chief Science Officers Design Their Own 3D Printed Name Badges

az-scitech-cso-badges-3d-printed-0The Chief Science Officer program is a program for 6th-12th grade students to represent their school in STEM. And what better way is there for them to identify themselves then with 3D Printed name badges?  The program’s sponsors, the AZ SciTech Festival offer a training retreat for the kids who get elected as their school’s CSO and we all thought introducing design and 3D Printing would be a great activity.

As part of the 2015 Fall CSO Institute, PADT’s Jeff Nichols joined local designer and artist John Drury to spend some time with the kids explaining how to work with logos and shapes to convey an idea, and how to design for 3D Printing.  The kids worked out their own design and sent it to PADT for printing.

We converted their sketch into a 3D Model, starting in Adobe Illustrator. The sketch was traced with vector geometry and then a generic name was added. This was then copied 144 times and each name was typed in, with a few extras. This step was the only boring part.


The design worked great because it is a simple extrusion with no need for support material.    The outline of their names were exported as DXF from Illustrator and then imported onto the 3D Model and extruded up to make a solid model of a badge. This was then copied to make a badge for each student. Then the names were imported and extruded on the patterned badges.

The was a simple extrusion for each feature, allowing for contrast and readability but keeping things simple.
This project was a great opportunity to use both patterns and importing 2D drawings. By laying everything out in a grid, we only had to make one badge and copy that. Then import the names and extrude those on the patterned badges.

STL files were then made and sent off to one of our Stratasys FDM 3D Printers. The FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) process extrudes an ABS plastic filament, and you can change material during the build. So, to add a bit of contrast, we changed the filament color after the base of the design was done, making the logo and student names stand out.  The final results came out really nice.

This is what they look like right out of the machine. We swapped out two color for each build. With some clever packing, we were able to get 12 badges on each platform.
The final products really stand out.


This project was a lot of fun because we were able to work with the students. They got what John and Jeff taught them and did a great job.  We know they will be placed with pride on back backs and jackets across Arizona.

To learn more about the CSO program, visit their website: Check out the blog.  Some of these kids can really write well and their insight into Science, Technology, Math, and Education is insightful.

Bringing Life to a Sculpture

Art_man-STL-PointsRecent development in 3D scanning technologies have made a wide variety of application a possibility.  3D scanners can capture data on the shape and texture of real world object and transform it into useable 3D CAD model. Our structured light 3D scanners generate quality high density mesh results which are then used for rapid prototyping, computer-aided engineering (CAE) analysis, reverse engineering, or inspection to 3D CAD data. The scanner works by using a high resolution camera and lens pair to analyze the deformed projection pattern on an object.

Per customer request, we 3D scanned a custom hand crafted character sculpture and separate standing base. We efficiently scanned the sculpture and base using a turntable allowing for quicker and more accurate data. The scanned data was then sent to the computer for alignment or registration into a common reference system and merged into a complete STL model. Next, we optimized the mesh results for 3D printing and printed the model using our FDM printer.


Using PADT’s structured light scanner and FDM printer we were able to capture and produce a detailed model which brought the character to life.


Once the object was scanned we sent him to the 3D Printer. Here you can see him being made:


And this is a shot of him taking his post build bath, to remove the support material from the print:


And the final part, looking good:


The customer can use the scanned model to create different sized versions of their sculpture.

Learn more about our 3D Scanning capabilities on our website, or simply contact us at



The Computer

The key to converting large scans into accurate 3D models revolves around having the right computer.  A complex model like this with so much detail can really bog down on a normal design workstation, so PADT developed a special line of CUBE Computers just for scanning, called geoCUBES.  For this project Ademola used a geoCUBE w4 which is crammed full of goodies.  Note the use of six Solid State Drives in raid to remove the I/O bottleneck along with an NVIDIA QUADRO K6000 which helps in visualization as a graphics card and as a GPU in doing all of the number crunching needed.

  • INTEL XEON e5-1620V2 – 4Cores@3.7GHz
  • HD Audio 7.1
  • 64GB DDR3-1866 ECC REG RAM
  • Hardware RAID Controller
  • 6 x 240GB Enterprise Class SSD’s
  • Blu-Ray BDXL Combo Drive
  • 3D Connexion SpaceNavigator 3D Mouse

See 3D Printed Art, Visit MATERIALIZE

We love art at PADT.  We especially love it when the tools we use, sell, and support for high-end engineering are used to create art. Last week we were able to participate in an event at the Shemer Art Center that did just that.  “MATERIALIZE: 3D Printing & Rapid Prototyping” is an exhibition that strives to educate artists and the public about new digital tools used to create art. The museum challenged artists to create original works using the capabilities of 3D printers.  PADT attended the opening on October 16th and showed off some of our own parts.

Here is a picture of PADT’s Mario Vargas explaining the technology behind 3D Printing to attendees:

The artwork created varied greatly, but all showed the power of 3D Printing to take ideas visualized on a computer, and convert them directly to physical parts. We highly recommend that anyone interested in art or 3D Printing, attend the exhibit which closes on November 27th, 2014. 

Here is a very nice cow piece:


And this is a collection of images from the website:

If you make visit, please share your thoughts in the comments below.