Designs as equations

Design as equationsJust a quick post about a fun, exciting, really cool new thing that Makerbot added to Thingiverse: Customizer.

Customizer is a user-friendly web interface into a world of 3D objects created via programming language and not visually like how “normal” 3D modelling works. You see, software exists that let you code objects with high precision, using functions with easily understood names like cube() and sphere(), but also combining these objects in useful ways, like adding, subtracting, etc. These functions allow a developer to write scripts that create objects that can be modified and shaped by simply changing variables – this is sometimes called¬†parameterized design.

One such application is called OpenSCAD and, as the name implies, is open-source software and is free! What’s cool about Customizer is that you can write scripts in OpenSCAD, upload the script to Thingiverse, and automagically have sliders, input fields, and other user-friendly UI items alongside a real-time, interactive preview — giving users the easy ability to use your script to make objects.

Door Knob and Drawer Pull MakerI decided to take a crack at making a script to create a most mundane object, but one that is easily parameterized: door knobs and drawer pulls.

While nothing game-changing, it is a good example of how many common things can be reduced to code, and a new way of thinking about allowing end-users to customize objects for their needs and tastes.

You can run my script in Customizer, as well as download the script to look at the code and run locally, here: Door Knob and Drawer Pull Maker.

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One thought on “Designs as equations

  1. Door Knobs might seem mundane, but it’s exactly this kind of thing that I see playing a huge part in the future of 3D printing. When the day comes when everyone has a 3D printer, no matter how easy CAD programs become, I think most users won’t model things from scratch. Instead, they’ll pull up parametric templates like this and modify it to taste. Thanks for making a great script.

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