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Printer Software Hardware

Harvard Software 3D Prints Articulated Action Figures 75

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the there-goes-the-miniatures-industry dept.
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from an article at Geek.com "A team of computer scientists at Harvard University have developed a piece of software that allows anyone to 3D print their own action figures at home. Not only will the models carry the likeness of the character, they will also be fully articulated. The software can take an animated 3D character and figure out where best to place its joints. In what is referred to as reverse rendering, the software first looks at an animated character's shape and movement and identifies the best joint points (original paper, paywalled). It then adjusts the size of the different parts of the model so as to allow a real joint to work once printed. Optimizations are then carried out to produce a model as close as possible to the on-screen version, but at the same time workable as an actual real-world, articulated 3D model." The bad news: Harvard is patenting everything and wants to commercialize it on a proprietary basis. The good news: An anonymous reader pointed toward the paper in full.
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Harvard Software 3D Prints Articulated Action Figures

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  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by mblase (200735) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @08:32AM (#40855153)

    My very own Evil Wil Wheaton action figure can be a reality!

  • The bad news (Score:4, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday August 02, 2012 @08:34AM (#40855171) Homepage Journal

    "The bad news: Harvard is patenting everything and wants to commercialize it on a proprietary basis." So tired of this. I get it, but I'm tired of it.

    • by mblase (200735)

      "The bad news: Harvard is patenting everything and wants to commercialize it on a proprietary basis." So tired of this. I get it, but I'm tired of it.

      I don't think the poster meant that patenting and commercializing is inherently evil; I think he meant that he wouldn't be able to download it for free and use it himself for fun.

      • by DWMorse (1816016)

        I think he meant that he wouldn't be able to download it for free and use it himself for fun.

        With his free, for-fun 3D printer.

      • by gr3yh47 (2023310)
        i think OP in this thread meant he's tired of people patenting things and commercializing them when they start with a technology like 3d printing that is designed for openness. But i could be wrong too
        • by Anonymous Coward

          3D printing is no more "designed for openness" then printing or writing or singing. There have been 3D printers long before the reprap, and just because a part of the community thinks that no one except sellers of circuit-boards and metal pipes should be making a profit, doesn't mean that everyone else have to give up all hopes of generating a profit in 3D printing. They don't create stuff like this to make money, they however do need to make money to keep making stuff like this.

      • I think he meant that he wouldn't be able to download it for free and use it himself for fun.

        Until the torrent of the software comes out a day after it is released commercially.

    • by cfulton (543949)
      I don't agree with software patents. I think they are unenforceable and generally for things that are beyond obvious (one click payment). But, this strikes me as more than that. They have done something non-obvious that creates something in the physical world and has value beyond just the source code. I think that should be patentable. I (or any moderately talented programmer) could create on click payment very quickly and easily. I could not just knock out automated fully articulated action 3d printa
      • by Anonymous Coward

        you miss the point. You copyright the code - no one can just steal and use it. But if someone else smarter
        than you can do the same thing on their own they should be able to - but a patent would prevent that. Take your
        example of "one click" you say it is easy for you so it shouldn't be patentable, but 99% of the population
        couldn't do that.

    • by daid303 (843777)

      Just about everything in 3D printed is patented. RepRap people just don't care about it. It's very hard to sue a community. Even the name for the most commonly used 3D printing method is trademarked. (Fused deposition modeling(tm) by Stratasys)

      • Here is a legal analysis of the situation:

        The Intellectual Property Implications of Low-Cost 3D Printing [ed.ac.uk]

        It's somewhat long, but a one-line summary of what they concluded could be roughly:

        At least in the UK and EU, there is no strong legal basis for constraints on non-commercial personal 3D printing.

        It's worth reading the whole thing though, as it covers many different forms of legal restrictions on object replication. It certainly foresees problems ahead for commercial companies in this area, but provi

      • by Applekid (993327)

        Just about everything in 3D printed is patented. RepRap people just don't care about it. It's very hard to sue a community. Even the name for the most commonly used 3D printing method is trademarked. (Fused deposition modeling(tm) by Stratasys)

        Patents related to FDM-style printing have been expired for years. "Fused Deposition Modeling" is a trademark, but that's just a name for the technology, not the technology itself. An open name for describing the technology is "Fused Filament Fabrication" which sounds silly but it avoids that whole trademark business.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Why? Do you think the countless hours and piles of money they sank into developing this came from the tooth fairy?

      if you don't like this you are welcome to put together a team, come up with a product, put it on kickstarter, and see if you can get enough people interested to get it made. It has never been easier for those with a new idea to get that idea turned into reality in our entire history, but just because you want to give away your time and money doesn't mean other people have the same opinion.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.baecher.info/fab_char_sig12.html

  • I've printed (and designed) models that get sent to the 3D printer, and are articulated/movable fresh from build (after suitable cleanup), no post-printing assembly required.

    The new idea is the "take a character and automatically place/design joints" part.

  • So how would the AFAA (Action Figure Association of America) implement some kind of DRM on action figures anyways? Would they try to force a blacklist of designs onto every 3d printer? Too bad for them the first thing I'm printing out is an army of pirates.
    • So now that we're past plastic plates, here we really go to Star Trek's Replicator. All that remains now is the ever growing list of "objects supported".

      I'm just amazed that even as late as TNG/DS9/Voyager/Enterprise let's say less than five scripts out of _____ even mentioned property rights, let alone the kind of thing we're wrangling with now.

      So for a 3D printable object, is the object covered by a patent because it's an object, or copyright because of the software that produces that object is essentiall

      • by bigdavex (155746)

        So now that we're past plastic plates, here we really go to Star Trek's Replicator. All that remains now is the ever growing list of "objects supported".

        I'm waiting for Paramount to sue a person for printing pirate copies of a toy replicator.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        So now that we're past plastic plates, here we really go to Star Trek's Replicator. All that remains now is the ever growing list of "objects supported".

        I'm just amazed that even as late as TNG/DS9/Voyager/Enterprise let's say less than five scripts out of _____ even mentioned property rights, let alone the kind of thing we're wrangling with now.

        So for a 3D printable object, is the object covered by a patent because it's an object, or copyright because of the software that produces that object is essentiall

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Actually if you paid attention they DID have money in the Star Trek universe, it was just "credit slips" or in the case of Voyager they used replicator rations, which Paris always had a betting pool going with those as currency. If things were to progress like Star Trek most likely just as in ST it would be the things you can't replicate that are valued, such as latinum was prized over gold and diamonds precisely because you could replicate gold and diamonds but not latinum.

        As for 3D printed objects I'd g

      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        "So for a 3D printable object, is the object covered by a patent because it's an object, or copyright because of the software that produces that object is essentially identical?"

        The Chinese made a 3D copy of a whole Austrian village, albeit they didn't print it.

        If you draw the Ringworld and print it out, I don't see what Niven could do about it as long as you don't begin to sell them.

    • by citizenr (871508)

      So how would the AFAA (Action Figure Association of America) implement some kind of DRM on action figures anyways? Would they try to force a blacklist of designs onto every 3d printer?

      Fabrication Rights Management (FRM)

  • cheaper action figures --> more crappy sequels to market them

  • by gsslay (807818) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @08:46AM (#40855317)

    "Anyone at home" is an interesting take on that. Just how many people have a 3D printer in their home? A tiny number I would think.

    That's a serious question, how many?

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      it's up in tens of thousands probably now if not hundrds if you count all.

      I know I got mine on order...

    • Depends on the print resolution. The higher the resolution, the higher the printer price. Low resolution designs like MakerBot are cheap, and can be bought/built by almost anyone.

      Also, with hackerspaces popping up all over the place, many people gain access to expensive tools like high end printers.
      So you could design at home, and then go print it out. Like how we used Kinkos in the 90's.

  • Anyone who actually goes to collector sites like One Sixth Warrior or Sideshow (Freaks) Collectors knows there are already people doing this. I've seen many zbrush sculpted, 3d printed custom head sculpts for high end collectables.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Again, the big deal is that this is AUTOMATIC. You don't need to do anything other than having the 3D animation model

  • Last time I checked, toy figure designers (requires 3D figure drawing skills, and a knowledge of plastics and manufacturing processes and mold-making) were paid quite well and were in high demand.

    William

    • by Urza9814 (883915)

      Or you could look at it as another labor-intensive job that humans don't have to do anymore. Unless they really want to.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well now they can go on working on designs for better factories or higher end art.

      why do you think it's good that talented material designers are tied up with toys?

      (besides, it doesn't do that, they can still just make better stuff).

    • by DynamoJoe (879038)
      Or, it's good for the marketplace in that there will be more choice for consumers and lower prices all around, with a lower cost of entry to those who wish to produce. The industry will also have a larger, cheaper talent pool to select from, lowering their costs. Markets will open up for custom parts that didn't exist before. LOTS of money will change hands, stimulating the economy. Lawyers will benefit because this surely will be a hotly litigated subject for the next few decades.

      Those who already work

    • by Gilmoure (18428)

      iTunes will sell 3D models for downloading to your iCam?

    • If you took a look at TFA. The output was done, in one color/transparent/translucent plastic.
      Right now painting them is can still be done by a person.

  • Harvard is supposed to be a non-profit entity and, unless I am mistaken, is tax exempt for this reason.

    I think Universities should pay taxes right along with the rest of us. Fuck 'em. They should get deductions for scholarships but they should be paying tax on all their profits, just like any other greedy money hungry bunch o' sumbitches.

  • Humans have an innate ability to comprehend the spatial organization of an object and to replicate it in another medium, even to scale it automatically. Most of us are not expert sculptors and so we would do a rather poor job of it, but nevertheless, the ability is inherent in us all.

    The so-called "reverse rendering" in the article is, again, just part of our innate object recognition ability. Without that ability, images would unrecognizable to us as 2D projections of 3D objects. The ability appears to

  • I can see how they determine joint location, my question is whether or not the joint type selection is automatic. I.e. The knees didn't appear to be pure ball joints, but more like pinned joints. the tail and neck were obviously pure ball allowing multi-axis rotation, but the knees looked like single axis joints.
  • 3D-printing action figures is something that I've wanted to do for a while. In case anyone with knowledge or expertise in printing action figures happens to read this, I'd like (1) to scan an existing, articulated action figure... somehow, perhaps using 123dapp Catch (123dapp.com), (2) to modify the resulting mesh using 3D modeling software such as Blender and (3) to make articulated 3D prints of the modified action figure. Please share any advice, recommendations or links that might be useful. Thanks in
  • I foresee within the next decade that we'll see a major explosion of piracy of 3D models of popular toys. Why buy that 10 dollar Batman figure for your kid when you can download the 3D model and print out your own? And of course toy companies will freak out much like the record labels did.

    This is going to be pretty interesting. If I owned stock in a toy company or whatever, I'd be thinking about selling it.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately the Harvard gazette article and the summary fail to mention that this was joint work with Cornell and TU Berlin. The professor from Cornell involved is Doug James, famous for great work in animation and sound rendering (for which he was singled out in a hilariously misguided way by you-cut-government: http://www.livescience.com/9108-scientists-call-citizen-review-funding-misleading.html).

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