Joss in Aruba

Greetings from 10,000 meters everyone! I thought that while I have some time on my hands I’d share some thoughts about my experience working at Brenchie’s Lab.

The first thing that comes to mind is to talk about the potential that the lab has. As many of you already know, I come from a Makerspace that is well established and very well equipped. In terms of the fab lab equipment, I believe that Brenchie’s meets and in some areas exceeds the capabilities of my home shop. For such a young lab, this is truly impressive. For example, the prototyping ability that Brenchie’s has for Arduino projects is extensive, which allows for people that come into the lab with ideas to try things out before investing a lot of money into buying their own electronic components. In the short time that I worked at the lab I saw three small electronics projects come together there!


While a lot of the time that I spent there was doing training with Kevin Schuit, Brenchie’s new lab manager, I also spent some time tuning and upgrading the machines, so I can tell you firsthand that everything is well tuned and ready to make some cool things!


Just to give you an idea of what those cool things might be, I’d like to share a project with you that was brought to the lab from the community in Aruba, and that Kevin and I worked on together. We received a visit from the director of the National Archaeological museum of Aruba with an interesting request. He wanted us to make an accurate 3D-printed replica of an ancient artifact that is the only known proof of woven textiles in pre-colonial Aruba. It was basically a shard of pottery about the size of your palm that had a woven imprint in it. Obviously, it was priceless and irreplaceable, so it was too risky to put it on display.


Our first attempt to get an accurate scan of the object was done with the Sense 3D scanner from the lab. While we were able to get the form of the object, we found that we couldn’t get the texture of the weave pattern, which was of course the most important part. So while we regrouped, I thought about the problem and drew on my experience as a photographer to come up with a solution. We needed to reveal more texture, and we were using an optical technology, so the solution was a strong light, placed low to make the texture more obvious to the camera. We made arrangements with (insert company) to bring in lights and assist us and used a software called 123D Catch from Autodesk to make the scan. It worked beyond expectation and with a bit of cleanup in software, we had a perfect model. Now we just needed a perfect print.

The first attempt at printing gave us good texture on the sides of the artifact, but a poor representation of the top. So we flipped it on it’s side and printed with some support material that we later removed. This worked beautifully and we got a really distinctive weave pattern on the top of the object. Success!


The other half of the museum project also involved 3D scanning, and quite a bit of CNC work. For the same exhibition, they needed two busts and two sets of hands cut to model hats and other woven pieces. In this case, the Sense 3D scanner worked well for the task and Kevin made a really nice 3D scan of my head and shoulders. The next step was to slice the scan up into two planes that would notch together to make a freestanding form. We accomplished all of this with the software that we have available on the computers at the lab. It was actually a combination of 3D and 2D manipulation since we were using the CNC as a 2.5D cutter. With the software steps done, next it was time to fire up the Shapeoko 3 and make some sawdust!

It took a solid day of cutting, but the results were nice.

In conclusion, I’d like to thank the staff of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design Aruba, and Metabolic Foundaiton for the opportunity to come to Aruba and be a part of Brenchie’s Lab. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to work with such talented and motivated people to build something that is such a benefit to the community in Aruba. I look forward to seeing the amazing things that are going to come out of this shop in the years to come.