This 3D scanner is a collaborative project at BuildBrighton Makerspace with the aim of making digital technology affordable for community groups.

Scanners are being used in the fashion industry, to customise clothes design, in the games industry for virtual reality and in gyms to monitor health. If they are also available in makerspaces, which provide access to tools for production, there could be more potential for social innovation.

I am going to use the scanner to help me design clothes. To start with, I’ve sliced my model using free software, and laser cut a dressmakers dummy out of cardboard that is my exact personal body shape. Next, I’m planning to see what clothes look like on a 3D model in VR, before I commit to making them.

Santander gave me a grant of £1000 to build the scanner, as a University of Brighton Digital Award. We spent more than that prototyping different options, but as part of our design brief we’ve made sure the final version could be replicated within that budget. At that price, other community groups may be able to raise funds to build something similar.

Please note: This project uses mains electricity and requires knowledge of wiring, so for safety’s sake, the sections about building the scanner show what we did, with a level of detail intended for reference rather than copying, and the sections on coding and using the scanner are written as ‘How to’ guides. It’s an ongoing project, so I hope to be able to provide full plans for a battery version soon. Check out my website or contact me if you want to know more.

For environmental reasons, we chose PLA for the 3D printed connectors and cardboard tubes for the structure. Cardboard is easy to reshape if the parts don’t fit perfectly, so it makes a great prototyping tool, and at 3mm thick, the tubes are strong and rigid.

It was wonderful working on this collaborative project. Thanks to Arthur Guy for writing the code and other members of BuildBrighton who came and helped on Wednesday evenings, or happened to turn up whenever they were needed.

The Materials for this project were:

27 Raspberry Pi Zero W

27 Raspberry Pi camera modules

27 Raspberry Pi zero camera cables

27 USB to Micro USB cables

20 Cardboard tubes 125cm long x 32mm diameter with 29mm diameter core

8 End caps for the tubes

PLA 3D printing filament

8 Lids from disposable beer kegs

2 x A3 sheets 3mm laser quality birch plywood

230v-12v Power converter (because mains power is 230v in the UK)

12 CRT 5v power regulators

3 x 30 Amp blade fuses and holders

Electric cable

A box of 2, 3 and 5 lever wire connectors

50 Ferrules

Cable modem router

Ethernet cable

27 SD cards (16GB)

5mm Single walled corrugated card

2m Self-adhesive Velcro®

4 x USB battery packs

The tools we used were:

Apple® computer (the camera server software has been written for the Apple® operating system, but may also work on Linux)

PC computer because Autodesk Remake™ stopped providing support for Mac users in the middle of this project

Internet (wired and wireless)

The free version of Autodesk Remake™

3D Printer

Laser cutter

Ferrule crimper

Cable cutter

Chop saw and band saw

Sanding machine”


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