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David Fairfield
04-08-2011, 11:47 AM
So far it seems the least used of the laser's potential. I recall Dee has done some beautiful work with her Epilog. And I just saw this demo piece from Kern, and was pretty darned impressed with it!

Click to expand. Note the scale reference thumbtack on the right, which shows how fine the engraving is. (I have no affiliation with Kern)

Dave



190706

Dan Hintz
04-08-2011, 11:55 AM
That's a lovely example... and unfortunately unrepresentative of what most of us can do in a reasonable period of time with the powers we work with. I believe the Kern examples are done with a 120-150W system (though the high power density optics reduces that requirement quite a bit)? Us lowlifes with 45-60W systems need to do multiple runs, and anything bigger than a postage stamp takes a while.

Bruce Boone
04-08-2011, 1:33 PM
Wow. Very nice. I've never tried anything like that. I assume it's from a CAD drawing, and deeper stuff just gets a different color lines than the upper stuff? Or does it interpret a grayscale picture and dig levels automatically from that? That's a technique I would definitely love to use with my new laser.

Dan Hintz
04-08-2011, 2:04 PM
Bruce,

Grayscale... you'll use ULS's 3D settings. I haven't tried to do anything that extreme, but the 3D with 16 power sliders is a nice option to have/use.

Zsolt Paul
04-08-2011, 2:13 PM
190719190718190717190716190715190714Here are a couple of examples 3D I had done.190713
http://www.sawmillcreek.org/images/misc/pencil.png

Rodne Gold
04-08-2011, 2:15 PM
What I would like to know is : has anyone actually made any decent money out of doing 3d pictures?
In 10 years lasering , in a real busy shop , we have never had an enquiry let alone sold a 3d lasered object.

Dan Hintz
04-08-2011, 2:18 PM
I use it as an accent feature in projects, not the project itself.

Bruce Boone
04-08-2011, 3:00 PM
I will use the snot out of that technique in rings. Very cool. I guess it would take some fiddling to get a normal photo to do the effect. It would be great for a customer to send in some pics and have those etched into a ring. I suppose as long as it looks OK in gray scale, it could be close.

Zsolt Paul
04-08-2011, 3:22 PM
What I would like to know is : has anyone actually made any decent money out of doing 3d pictures?
In 10 years lasering , in a real busy shop , we have never had an enquiry let alone sold a 3d lasered object.

If I didn't have 23 yrs of customer base in the wood flooring industry, there would be very little money in it. However, honing in on a very small niche of a large client base in high end jobs, yes, its been great many times.

Chuck Stone
04-08-2011, 4:15 PM
What I would like to know is : has anyone actually made any decent money out of doing 3d pictures?
In 10 years lasering , in a real busy shop , we have never had an enquiry let alone sold a 3d lasered object.

I've never had an inquiry either, but then nobody knows I'm here! LOL
But I do 3D or 2.5D pen blanks all the time. They sell fairly well for a product
that doesn't get advertised.. and some cold cast bronze 3D-ish stuff for pen
box inserts too. Nobody asked for them, but once you show them around there
is interest.190729190730190731190732190733

ps.. it's all Dee's fault. Once she posted a 3D sample it got the little
brain hamster up and running..

Dan Hintz
04-08-2011, 6:54 PM
Bruce,

A photo won't typically give you a proper 3D effect as seen in the Kern example, and therein lies the rub... a lot of time is spent making an image like that (if you ever see the image it's created from, you'll see why it doesn't look normal). You can fake the look if you're only seeing the engraving from one direction, but the Kern example is "true" 3D from any angle (within reason, of course).

Keith Outten
04-08-2011, 7:35 PM
Sorry guys it isn't 3D its two and a half D.

There is a feature in Aspire for processing bitmaps for laser engraving that is supposed to do a good job. I own Aspire but I haven't had an opportunity to try this feature yet. Has anyone here used Aspire to convert a bitmap to engrave?
.

Bruce Boone
04-08-2011, 7:50 PM
I have used ArtCAM to do some 3D relief before. Here's a sample of that in silver.
190778

Dan Hintz
04-08-2011, 7:55 PM
Sorry guys it isn't 3D its two and a half D.
I consider this more like 2.75D rather than 2.5D :)

2.5D is a typical relief... the Kern example is cut so deeply that it has to be better than plain ol' 2.5D. That buggy [u]really[u]stands out from the front of the store, and the bricks are superbly defined. Yep, 2.75D :D

Bruce Boone
04-08-2011, 9:15 PM
I would love to see what the artwork for the original picture looks like.

Bruce Boone
04-08-2011, 10:47 PM
I found a source for some of that type of artwork made just for laser engravers: http://www.gantryco.com/

Mike Null
04-09-2011, 7:33 AM
To Rodney's point, I've been in the business for 13 years and never had occasion to do 3d. If I were one to play with my machine I would certainly have a go at it just to satisfy my own curiosity but I don't see a marketing use that would justify the art and engraving time.

But that's what I like about SMC; we have enthusiastic hobbyists who will try anything and will post their results to show those of us who don't take the time to experiment.

Scott Woodson
04-09-2011, 10:12 AM
Chuck,

How did you get the shading on the mount rushmore design. I've been trying to achieve something simliar, but never been able to get the subtle shading you have, it looks amazing.

Scott

Chuck Stone
04-09-2011, 12:11 PM
Scott .. the shading on the Rushmore is accomplished with two techniques..
1.) the image file has 16 levels of gray, from black to white. So on the white
blank you can see the differences in depth if you look with a magnifier.
2.) since most people don't look at a pen with a magnifier, I cast the white
blank in a translucent black resin. When it is turned again on the lathe, the
highest spots have no resin covering them, so they stay white. The deepest
parts have a lot of black resin blocking the light, so pretty much no white shows.
And in between, the various depths block the light to varying degrees. The deeper
the engraving, the darker it gets.

I wish there was some program that would turn 2D stuff into 3D ready files, but
I can't even imagine how they would do it. And I don't have enough experience
with height maps to do it well myself.. I've begged and borrowed what images
I could, but mostly I ham-fist it in Photoshop using masks and the gradient tool.

David Fairfield
04-09-2011, 2:53 PM
The black / white resin is ingenious! Really neat idea, thanks for explaining it.

Some really nice pieces and ideas in this thread.

Dave

Dee Gallo
04-09-2011, 3:31 PM
I agree with Dave, your little brain hamster is running full tilt! That is a brilliant way to get the effect you want !

cheers, dee

Martin Boekers
04-09-2011, 3:56 PM
I have used ArtCAM to do some 3D relief before. Here's a sample of that in silver.
190778

How do you like Artcam?

I've seen some amazing things do on a CNC with files ceated from this program.

Have you ever lasered from it?


I would love to have it as I could find some great uses for it, but the pricing
is sooooooooo far out of what I can reasonably consider.

Any other simialr programs for us lower budgeted folks?

Bruce Boone
04-09-2011, 6:41 PM
ArtCAM is very powerful. I haven't really scratched the surface with what's possible yet. I haven't output to laser from it. I owned a SolidScape 3D wax printer that did the detailed master for the lost wax casting. A jeweler up the street was having me make so many waxes for him, I found it was a better use of my time to sell the machine to him and have him make me the few parts I needed on it. It didn't do well to sit since the wax was at high temperature, so if it wasn't used every day, the models would be very fragile when the wax cooked constantly. I did many prints that took 18 hours or so only to have them crumble in my hands. The jeweler does use it every day and does some really crazy designs with it.

I have seen that ArtCAM can output the color gradient type pictures. With ArtCAM you pull in a picture and can add a 3D bulge with CAD like tools and can control depth like that. I assume that might be the software that the Kern people and the others I mentioned might be using. Like any high end software, it take some time to get proficient at it. I was working on a pen project with silver overlays that needed some serious 3D relief. The pen project ended up being a financial dead end when the recession hit, so I haven't used the software since then.

Scott Woodson
04-09-2011, 8:49 PM
Scott .. I cast the white
blank in a translucent black resin.

Chuck, as they say in the beer commercial "Brilliant", I'm into casting acrylic now for pen turning. Do you mix your own black resin, if so are you using mica powders to get you translucent shading? I've turned a couple blanks today to experiment with. I'll post pics if it works, or I'll just fad into the background and ask for more help if it doesn't work :-)

scott

David Fairfield
04-09-2011, 9:15 PM
Sounds like you have some interesting experience with 3d printing and metal casting, Bruce. What does one of those benchtop wax printers cost anyway? I don't do jewelry but I do some small parts for resin casting, seems the wax might work, what do you think?

I'm just daydreaming for now... but someday if my business continues to grow, and prices continue to drop, I'll get a 3d printer.

Dave

Bruce Boone
04-09-2011, 9:46 PM
I think the printer was something like $46K. It's not very cost effective unless you do lots of stuff or very high end niche stuff. It does well for the jewelry or dentistry market. I was working on a pen deal that was supposed to end up being in the mid 7 figures, but it certainly didn't pan out that way! Just as well. They were a lot of work!

190899

Here's a ring I did with that. It was chosen to be in an art exhibition in a rapid prototyping convention in Minneapolis. Obviously, it's one that can't be machined in the traditional way. There is a place called Shapeways that will print your stl files in different materials including plastics or stainless steel. The surface finish won't be as good as the wax parts, which do layers down to .0005" though.

Chuck Stone
04-10-2011, 11:19 AM
I'm into casting acrylic now for pen turning. Do you mix your own black resin, if so are you using mica powders to get you translucent shading?
scott

I've got tons of micas, and I cast resin and make the ResinSaver molds (look those up if you're
making pens!) but the mica wouldn't work for this one. I have just about every kind of dye, powder,
tint, ink, paint etc you could think of, trying to get a resin that would be translucent for only the
first 0.025 and then dark black any deeper than that. It turned out to be a lot more difficult than
I thought.. and not all that repeatable for casting two or three blanks. But I ended up with an
epoxy tint from System Three that worked pretty well. I'd dip in the very end of a toothpick, then
wipe off most of that.. ugh!

Ray Mighells
04-10-2011, 11:51 AM
I've used some of the Gantry patterns and I think they are very good. Pricey, but join their club for big discounts. Unless you have a high power machine, you'll find multiple passes necessary. You can see some of my samples in my Picture Trail Albums. http://www.PictureTrail.com/razaxnstuff

Bruce Boone
04-10-2011, 11:38 PM
Very nice stuff Ray. I think I'll be experimenting with this technique.

Jiten Patel
04-11-2011, 4:25 AM
I'm with Bruce. I would love to see what the artwork is like to produce that.

I think it looks amazing, and I'm sure if I could do it, I could sell it. Wedding pictures in 3D, done deal!

Belinda Williamson
04-11-2011, 8:19 AM
I have in hand the same sample as showin in the original post. I would consider it 3D. The amount of detail is phenomenal. I spoke with the Kern rep at IWF last August. They have a guy, I can't remember his name, who converts files to 3D for them. If I recall correctly the rep said it takes 30 to 40 hours to complete a file of this detail.

George Beck
04-11-2011, 9:04 AM
Well I feel like I am slowly getting there with 2.5 d graphics or I call them laser carvings. I am not completely happy yet. I do use a hand rubbed oil finish which darkens them a bit (about the same as end grain). The Kern graphics are always shown unfinished and on light wood, usually alder. I have been running them on a 60 watt laser at 100P and 75 speed one pass and a "clean up pass at 60 power and 100 Speed. I clean them with fast orange hand cleaner. This is with a 1.5 lens on a 60 watt Versa Laser. Not bad for a small laser on cherry.

George
191156

George Beck
04-11-2011, 9:59 AM
Oh I should also mention: Rodne, I just love your work! Dave, beautiful stuff! I sold 5 of these types of graphics last week. I think they have a place in laser work so long as they fir the overall effect of the work. Customers want something to convey the point they desire. This may be relief carving, maybe not. At least this is the case in my work. The product look is what they buy, not necessarily the graphic. I charge extra.

Dan Hintz
04-11-2011, 10:32 AM
George,

What resolution are you engraving at? The 1.5" lens helps increase power over the standard 2.0" lens, so I was wondering if you were running it at 1,000 dpi to pour in as much power as possible, or closer to 300dpi to speed processing up.

George Beck
04-11-2011, 10:39 AM
I run the graphics at 1000 dpi. The processing time for these was 10-12 minutes on the first pass and about 8 minutes on the second. These are about 2.5" x 2.5 " bigger ones take a long time.

Wes Mitchell
04-26-2013, 10:37 AM
David Stevens from ULS recently added a laser presentation to our MN sublimation seminar. I was going through the powerpoint from his presentation and there were a few slides on 3D laser engraving. He mentions the site gantryco.com. They have lots of 3D images, many of them are very neat.

Paul Phillips
04-26-2013, 12:10 PM
For those who have commented about wanting to see what the 3d files look like, if you go to the Gantryco website http://www.gantryco.com/ there is a free 3d file that they will email to you upon request, it does look amazing and you can see how it must take them a lot of time to create one. I ran mine on some 1/2" Maple and it turned out very nice.
Paul

Scott Shepherd
04-26-2013, 12:24 PM
David Stevens from ULS recently added a laser presentation to our MN sublimation seminar. I was going through the powerpoint from his presentation and there were a few slides on 3D laser engraving. He mentions the site gantryco.com. They have lots of 3D images, many of them are very neat.

I went to the seminar that Dave Stevens gave a couple of years back, and I have that handout as well. Somewhere I have samples files too. I learned a lot from Dave. He's a guru for sure. I've never met anyone in the industry that had more knowledge about engraving than him. I also learned that what most people think they need for 3D engraving is a long way from what is really needed. A good 3D file, like the one's Paul linked to and Wes mentioned, looks fuzzy to the eye and it's not radical color shifts. Most people would think it's a bad image, but it engraves beautifully.

Albert Nix
04-26-2013, 1:08 PM
Keith...didn't know Aspire would work with the laser. Got try it thanks

Michael Hunter
04-26-2013, 1:43 PM
There have been some lithophanes on Thingiverse recently. Photos were processed in CyberExtruder to get the 3D (2.5D) effect.

It seems that the guy who does them works for CyberExtruder and he has made a vague promise that this part of the software will be made available as a free download for hobbyists.
I keep looking at their site and it hasn't come up yet, but if it does I will post here.

Wes Mitchell
04-26-2013, 3:09 PM
For those who have commented about wanting to see what the 3d files look like, if you go to the Gantryco website http://www.gantryco.com/ there is a free 3d file that they will email to you upon request, it does look amazing and you can see how it must take them a lot of time to create one. I ran mine on some 1/2" Maple and it turned out very nice.
Paul

I didn't catch that free evaluation image. I know what I'm doing this afternoon!

Rich Harman
04-29-2013, 3:20 AM
You can use 3d modeling software to create heightmaps. There are many tutorials available for creating them. If you use Sketchup you can easily create a heightmap using "Fog" under the "Window" menu, set the background to black and play with the sliders to get a nice gradient across the model.

I don't have any models designed for this purpose but here is a quick example from something I do have;

261177

Keith Outten
04-29-2013, 7:58 AM
Keith...didn't know Aspire would work with the laser. Got to try it, thanks

Albert,

Aspire is capable of importing bitmaps that can be processed to make lithophanes. As I understand it you can take the file you created for a lithophane, save it and then use it to laser engrave via Corel Draw and your normal laser print method.

I'm also told that the Trotec Job Control software has similar capability. The new JobX version of Job Control may have been improved for this purpose but I don't know if this is true.

I have been trying to find the time to test Aspire for a long time but my shop schedule gets in the way. I also have an extensive home projects list and I spend about 3 to 4 hours per day working here at The Creek. I have to admit that lately I have been preoccupied with getting my sign shop moving again since I am working in it full time now. Part of this activity includes purchasing some new equipment and getting the new machines placed in the shop and tested. At my age I am trying not to work on business projects on the weekends anymore. I'd like to keep business related projects limited to less than 40 hours per week if possible.

I'm gaining on the projects list and there may be light at the end of the tunnel :)
.

Chuck Stone
04-29-2013, 9:29 PM
I don't have any models designed for this purpose but here is a quick example from something I do have;

261177


Actually, it's a good example of what WON'T work for 3D.
But it would probably work well for lithophane.

Rich Harman
04-29-2013, 11:29 PM
Actually, it's a good example of what WON'T work for 3D.

Care to explain?

Albert Nix
04-30-2013, 7:29 AM
I know what you mean. I have had the camaster since the end of December and for the live of me can't seem to find any spare time to experiment and learn any of the neat trick that I keep reading about. If I get any time off on the weekend I am usually getting the shop back in order and doing maintenance on the equipment. Taking off this weekend to spend Sat. at the Charlotte show just to get away, clear my head and look for fresh ideas.
Al

Dan Hintz
04-30-2013, 7:52 AM
Actually, it's a good example of what WON'T work for 3D.
But it would probably work well for lithophane.

I was thinking the same thing in both cases. Gives you a great image at one viewpoint only, which is not what 3D is.

EDIT: I laid out the algorithm necessary to get a proper height map from a 3D model (which is not the same as what is shown above), had a CAD guy willing to write the script, and I changed positions.

Mark Ross
04-30-2013, 9:37 AM
I made a ton of money doing 3D. See I make wooden engraving plates of 100 dollars bills and then...

LOL.

No, in almost 5 years we have never had a request. And like Dan mentioned, it is real slow and us lowlifes running 40-75W machines, it would take all day to do anything of any significant size.

Rich Harman
04-30-2013, 3:39 PM
I was thinking the same thing in both cases. Gives you a great image at one viewpoint only, which is not what 3D is.

I'm at a loss here. The image I posted was created from a 3d model where the near parts are light and the far parts are dark. The far parts would be engraved deeper and the near parts shallower. The end result would be that it would look as if the model were sticking out of the material, albeit at a weird angle, from any direction.

Here's the exact same process done on a sphere:

261312

Dan Hintz
04-30-2013, 7:50 PM
I'm at a loss here. The image I posted was created from a 3d model where the near parts are light and the far parts are dark. The far parts would be engraved deeper and the near parts shallower. The end result would be that it would look as if the model were sticking out of the material, albeit at a weird angle, from any direction.

Here's the exact same process done on a sphere:

261312

That's what we're saying... if the perspective of the object doesn't change with your viewpoint, it's not real 3D. The sphere is a red herring because it looks the same from all angles... but add any non-concentric detail to it and suddenly the illusion fails, just as you saw with the car.

Chuck Stone
04-30-2013, 8:23 PM
I'm at a loss here. The image I posted was created from a 3d model where the near parts are light and the far parts are dark. The far parts would be engraved deeper and the near parts shallower. The end result would be that it would look as if the model were sticking out of the material, albeit at a weird angle, from any direction.

Sorry, Rich .. I didn't mean my reply to sound snippy or snide or anything like that.
3D rendering programs allow us to see an image that LOOKS like it will be 3D, but
it isn't the same as a file we'd use for engraving in 3D. As Dan said, the sphere is
a bad example. It will tend to look 3D in both versions.

Take a look behind the front wheel in your example. There's a square panel that is
supported by 3 brackets. Those 3 brackets are darker than the square panel. That
means they would engrave deeper (further away from YOU) than the square panel.
Logically, that means the brackets would have to be supporting the panel from ABOVE
the panel .. not possible.

Another example .. say you have a face, lit from the side. The shadow of the nose
will engrave at a maximum depth. A true 3D (or 2.5D or 2.75D LOL) file would not
show a shadow at all. Shadows are how 3D rendering programs show the 3D illusion
for our eyes. But nto for engraving.

here's a few files that DO engrave in 3D, so you can see the difference. It isn't obvious
till you see it, but once you do then it makes sense.261330261331261332261333

Mike Lysov
05-02-2013, 11:52 PM
I have some grayscale map bitmaps and I have a 100W laser. However no matter how hard I have tried I could not get the same 3d effect as on the sample made on a Kern lasers . Probably because I always tried to do it on pine. That's pretty much what we have available here for a reasonable price.

Chuck Stone
05-03-2013, 2:25 PM
I think that any file you do will involve some homework for each material and
settings for pine won't work well for birch, for example.

The way I've done mine is to practice on scrap and HOPE that the final material
I work on isn't too much different than the practice piece (even from the same board)
because any variation is going to show up. Best material to try it on and get the 'feel'
would be Corian because it is consistent within the piece.

I used the eyedropper tool to choose the colors in the file and then used those
colors to make up one of the settings in the printer driver. One of the profiles in
my printer driver is just grays, from white to black. I kept the speed the same and
varied the power levels for each level of gray, with darker grays being higher power
levels, white being 0.

Even then, those settings would work for one material. Change the wood, and you
have to tweak the settings again. That's why the Corian worked out nicely. I use it
to create a 'master' and then pour silicone over that to make a mold. Then I cast
resin in the mold to get a positive. I haven't found a need to do the wood in 3D yet,
but at least now I know how I would proceed.

But just having grayscale bitmaps isn't enough.. they need to be files meant for 3D
engraving. And they don't even have to be grayscale.. that just helps us to see it
better. They could be full color and it would work as long as the color mapping is
right for the material.

Kathy Madan
05-03-2013, 5:24 PM
I know that most of us are perfectionists when it comes to our own work, but if I created something that looked like that, I would be tickled pink. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing