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Here's a new toy that might well prove very useful once we have working machines actually making useful objects. AOI imports the .obj files it exports, and the requirements are minimal. Currently written in .net and therefor Win only, but the distribution is free. They do not specify it as opensource but it's an academic project so if anybody feels up to doing a port to java...
Something like this is valuable because most people are more comfortable with modeling clay or balsa wood than they are starting from a blank CAD file. Give them a rough draft to start with and they can quickly learn to manipulate the datafile, but blank space is always intimidating. So for a few bucks you add this scanner to the fab lab at the community center and pretty soon folks are bringing in models to scale up to useful objects,or convert to durable goods, etc.
Just a thought...
There's an easier way than that to make it available to everybody. I just contracted with a hosting firm for a Windows server-based domain. It has capability to handle ASP.NET which means that I can host .NET web services. It will be a LOT easier to recompile this as a NET service and let anybody who needs it simply go to a web page on my site and use it over the internet.
The only problem with that scheme is that it appears that while it is freeware they only want to download an .exe file to you.
Spent a little time poking about and found this:
It's written in python and GPL'ed so that's good but it outputs "raw triangle mesh" and I don't know how that relates to .obj files to import to AOI. Appearently Blender can work with the output so I guess there's hope. Anyway I'm just kicking out ideas at the moment.
Converting from a triangle mesh to an obj file is a pretty trivial operation. Should be no problem.
I've added both sites to the "related projects" page of the wiki.