A monogrammed cube for you

I read Douglas R. Hofstadter’s book “Gödel, Escher, Bach” years ago.  Although a few chap­ters have latched them­selves to mem­ory, I’m sure I have since for­got­ten most of it.  The cover, though,  has stuck with me the longest.  It con­sists of some blocks under spot­lights, the shad­ows of which spell out “G E B.”  (Though look­ing back at it now, and after hav­ing tried to set up a sim­i­lar photo, I have to won­der if the shad­ows were pho­to­shopped in.)

2013-02-24 17.19.02When I was more into wood­work­ing, I thought that I might make a cube with my ini­tials.  That never hap­pened.  I got a 3D printer and thought that might be a fun lit­tle project.  It has since taken two years to hap­pen.  The thing that kicked it off?  Thingiverse’s Customizer.  This is a way for a designer like myself to upload a spe­cially pre­pared CAD file that exposes cer­tain vari­ables to the end user.  These vari­able para­me­ters then get UI knobs that let any­one with a web browser twid­dle set­tings and view the results in real­time in a browser.  It makes things really easy and requires no soft­ware on the end user’s part.  They plug in the val­ues they want until the pre­view looks good and the sys­tem gen­er­ates the 3D file that they down­load and print.

I decided I would make my own user-tweakable Monogram Cubes using the Customizer sys­tem.  (Full dis­close: part of the moti­va­tion stems from Thingiverse run­ning a Customizer con­test to win the new Replicator 2.  Customizer and down­load the model early and often!)  Generating a cube is now really easy: just open the Monogram Cube in Customizer, select some ini­tials and a font, down­load, and print.




There are two type­faces you can choose from. “Blocks” yields bet­ter results, but is more styl­is­tic and block-like. It reminds me of some dis­play type­faces from the 20s and 30s. It has smaller over­hangs and is eas­ier to print. “Alternate” results in more con­sis­tently letter-like, less styl­ized results, but has more over­hangs and is harder to print. It also has a few more incom­pat­i­ble let­ters.

Note that cer­tain let­ter com­bi­na­tions don’t work well, espe­cially with the “alter­nate” type­face.

Many let­ters you select, depend­ing on which face they are on, will have over­hangs that will require a raft with sup­ports. You might be able to skirt around this with cer­tain con­fig­u­ra­tions of let­ters (for exam­ple, if only one of the three let­ters has big over­hangs) by rotat­ing on the X or Y axis or even flip­ping the whole block upside-down.

Find it on Thingiverse: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:53940


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Brian Enigma

Brian Enigma is a Portlander, manipulator of atoms & bits, minor-league blogger, and all-around great guy. He typically writes about the interesting “maker” projects he's working on, but sometimes veers off into puzzles, software, games, local news, and current events.

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