Yesterday I had the pleasure of handing over a freshly printed car emblem to a client, the very talented Tony Mazzola. Using his vector art of the emblem, I used 3D Max, Zbrush (for a touch of last minute revision, decimation and STL export) and a little clean-up in Netfabb to create a printer ready emblem for use on his refurbished, custom/surfing themed, 1988, Pontiac Station Wagon.
I had the emblem printed at Shapeways using their 'white, strong, flexible and polished' material and it looks great. Tony will now be taking that master print and creating a mold to cast multiple copies. He'll then be taking those copies and painting them chrome, to approximate the OEM emblems, prior to attaching them to the car. I'll post shots of those when he's gets them complete.
Before I get into the process nitty-gritty, I MUST show you the car the emblem is destined for. More specifically, I have to show you the paintwork Tony has done. Namely the HAND PAINTED wood grain that replaces the original fake wood laminate. Again, HAND PAINTED!
Seriously this guys does faux finishes like you wouldn't believe. I've seen the car in person and the work blows you away. See above for a link to his site. He does home repair and excellent mural and faux finish work.
OK, on to the 3D printing!! Here's the quick and dirty:
Tony, exported vector paths from Illustrator of his emblem (script/font work is something I stink at, and I think Tony knocked it out of the park).
I then took that file into 3DS Max and essentially used a series of bridging and capping to create planer faces from the paths. Afterwards, I extruded the emblem and back-plate separately, did a boolean union of the two, cleaned up the geometry and then turbosmoothed the hell out of the finished product. I then export/imported the bloated .OBJ into Zbrush for decimation and export to and .STL file. A quick cleanup in Netfabb (just to be sure) and I was off to the printer...
With my .STL file exported I uploaded it to Shapeways; only to have it rejected with no explanation! After contacting Shapeways, I learned that the dot over the 'I', being not connected to the rest of the emblem fell below their minimum build volume. My bad...
Sooo, instead of starting from scratch, I brought the enormous/dense .OBJ back into Zbrush where I extended the 'I' portion of the backplate to meet the backplate of the dot. Smoothed any artifacts, decimated and exported again. Simple as that. Have I mentioned I love Zbrush?
Again, just for good measure I ran it through Netfabb, uploaded and bingo, into production...
That's all for now. I hope to post some shots of the painted castings at some point in the near future. It's been a fun project to be a part of. Thanks Tony!