Making a hollow model for Shapeways.

I like Shapeways! You can use them to generate prints from 3D models that you design. However, at first I wanted to create 3D models with some extra hollow closet or whatever else to use for some small electronics. Problem is, these adages will also add more material and space, thus increase the price. So I decided to just create hollow busts from my model so I still have some hollow area but also a nice model without any other props.

To start, I use a few pieces of software. First of all, Poser Pro with more models. Although a little old already, I still prefer to use the Victoria 4 model from DAZ3D. With some extra shapes and textures, you can make some very beautiful models.

Next, I need a tool for handling and converting the 3D models. Here Accutrans 3D does a lot of magic for me, including minor fixes and allowing me to fix any textures. It also allows me to merge parts that use the same texture, which makes everything a lot simpler.

I use Netfabb for repairs, scaling and to cut the model in half, so I get a bust instead of a whole model. The free version is good enough for my purposes.

And I use Meshmixer to make the bust hollow and thus reduce the amount of material required.

So I start with creating a model and putting her in a proper pose for my bust. Poser can do that real fast and, what the heck, let’s keep her topless! I just want a simple example. And when the pose is done, I need to save it three times! First, I save the original pose as a Poser file. That way, I can make adjustments to the pose later on. Second, I do an export to the Collada file (.dae) format. Poser doesn’t do a good Collada-export, though, but it will copy all the used textures to my save folder, in a subfolder called textures! And I need those copies later on. The third file is a Wavefront file (.obj) which I will import in the next tool, after I copied the textures from the subfolder to the save folder.


So, this is what Abby will look like. Even though she is topless, I just kept the “naughty parts” hidden for my blog.

A few notes: Abby is a female Elf and I have used her for several CGI images already. I have never used her for a print, though. This will be interesting because her hair might not print as well as I hope, but this is all just a test.

Keep in mind that Shapeways has a Content Policy that is a bit strict when models are nude. Nudity is allowed as long as it is artistic by nature. However, the definition of “artistic” is up to the person reviewing the model and chances are that your model will be refused because they don’t think it is artistic enough.

Now I will have to merge the various parts for this model and maybe remove a few things that disturb my model. To begin with, my model will have a layer called “Cornea” and one called “EyeSurface”. Normally in Poser, those would be transparent and thus not visible, except for some extra shininess or added reflections. Unfortunately, they became visible in my model so I generally remove these layers. Also, there are “Eyelashes” that generally either lack a texture or are just completely black. I remove those too, in general.

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Once done, I use “Tools_1/Merge layers with same materials” to reduce the number of layers in my model. Then I save it to a new folder in two different formats. First of all, Collada, so I have a copy that I can use for this model. Next, a Wavefront file for further processing.

The next step is scaling and the first cut. Netfabb does a great job at this, keeping the textures intact!

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As you can see, the complete model is naked, but that’s not a big problem. The bottom half will be cut away anyways. But first some scaling. The Y size is the largest value at 0.57 mm, which is very, very small. I’ll change it to 600, making the model about 60 CM high. I will then export the file to a new folder in Wavefront format again, and it will be saved including new texture files.

Now, I will make her hollow by using Meshmixer. Basically import the Wavefront file that Netfabb created and choose “Edit”Hollow” and the system will generate a hollow space inside your model.

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Once you like the hollow area, accept it and export it to another new folder as Wavefront format. Because now we will have to make a cut! So we have to import the file in Netfabb again. And do a cut!

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Although we’re only interested in the top half, I generally rename both parts (e.g. “Abby Top” and “Abby bottom”) so I can always decide to have both sides printed! With some glue, you can glue them together again.

But what does the result look like?

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I’m a bit annoyed that the textures weren’t saved after I made the cut. Then again, I would like the print to be in white plastic anyways. The colored sandstone would not be strong enough to hold the thin walls and the colored plastic has a size limitation, which is a bit small to me. So this last white result is fine. I also show the bottom half but Shapeways will have some minor troubles with that part. The arm is not connected to the rest of the body so it would become two parts.

And the bottom part is nude, thus a possible content policy violation.

The last step is the upload to Shapeways. This is a bit slow but since I kept the model reasonable simple, I should have a result within a few minutes. In the meantime, do keep in mind that Shapeways will charge for the amount of machine space and not just material space when printing in white plastic. Thus, while the hollow model will require less material, you will still have to pay for the large size. And since the original size resulted in a print of $400, I reduced the size by 60% on Shapeways, which reduced mostly the amount of machine space. The price is now around the $100, which is still a lot. But hey! I have a hollow model now.

I could also upload the bottom part, reduce it by 60% and have both parts printed to get a complete model, which I have to glue together. But once I do that, I will likely use a nicer model instead. For now, I’m still doing a lot of experiments and I try to avoid printing a lot of them, since these prints are expensive.

The final result.


So, what does the final result look like?

As you can see, the model is about as large as my cup of tea. I can insert an RGB-led inside it to make a very colorful display. Not all parts are hollow, though. Her right arm is solid from slightly above the elbow. Also, I kept her mouth and teeth part of the model, so they became part of the solid areas too. So yeah, her teeth are printed too but you can’t see them. And the skullcap and hair was also made one solid piece though her head, as part of the auto-repair or whatever. This makes her top a bit heavy but it is still stable enough to stand.

I also learned that scaling and cutting a model can be done from Meshmixer quite well and that too gives great results. With Meshmixer you can also add holes to a hollow model so you don’t have to cut it in two parts. The small hollow spaces would allow the unused material inside the model to fall out. But then you will have a model with small holes in it.

As I have been experimenting with these pieces of software, I’ve learned that Netfabb has a great repair function similar to what Shapeways uses. All three apps together make some pretty powerful tools for anyone who wants to create 3D models to print.

Four models on Shapeways (NSFW)

I like Shapeways since you can upload your own 3D designs and end up with a 3D printed model. This allows me to e.g. create custom boxes for small hardware experiments. These boxes are combined with my Poser models and will thus result in very interesting designs. But like everything with 3D, you will have to do some experiments first. I created three new models in Poser named Nora, Tommi and Cassiopa and I used some interesting trick to create a special rack to include in the pose. But first, let’s look at Nora:

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Nora was printed in two versions: White plastic and Colored sandstone. And in both models a few flaws were already visible. Nora’s shoes were made of a very thin material and the upload to Shapeways did a repair that removed the very thin parts. As a result, the shoes are flawed.

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Well, a bit of glue and plastic can fix that. But her fingers were also a bit delicate and the sandstone version ended up with broken fingers because the fingers are actually too thin. Again, some glue and they’re back in place.

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Her thumb is still missing, though. Then again, I was more interested in checking how well the 3D printer handles holes, like the area where she keeps her left hand. In front of her genitals, to keep it decent, yet far away so it doesn’t touch. Combined with the position of her legs, this results in a complex hole to print but it ended up flawless. Even her left hand was intact.

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So, what I’ve learned from Nora is that thin elements like fingers and shoes won’t print very well. White plastic does a better job than sandstone, though. That’s because sandstone needs further processing after the printing is done, which requires some manual labour. Thus, small parts can end up being damaged.

Another part that’s important with the sandstone version is the textures. For this, I will check her face:

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And in case you’re wondering why her hair is covered by a towel, well… Hair really doesn’t print very well. It tends to generate loose shells or often to parts that are too thin to print. Besides, the towel makes her look as if she’s just out of bath, relaxing.

The White plastic versions shows a reasonable amount of details in her face. Even her open mouth is printed quite nicely. The sandstone model also has an open mouth and you might see her tongue and teeth if you look inside with a microscope. But I’m more looking at her face and eyes.

Printing in colored sandstone has an ink density of about 50 DPI. Normally, a printer would print at 300 DPI so the colors will lose details. But I chose a light-colored iris and Nora has good-looking pupils in this print. Which is important to remember, since dark eye colors might darken the whole eye. It still looks good in my opinion. At least better than what I can do with paint and a brush.

The next model is Cassiopa. Since I know that thin parts won’t print well, I’ve placed her on a towel, hoping for a better result. The result is okay but the sandstone version did not survive the print because the towel was too thin. So I uploaded a newer version of Cassiopa on a more solid floor and in this version, I also adjusted her clothing. Why? Because I need to test more than just panties on topless women. Still, the white plastic version looks okay, although it is a bit small:

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The model was almost 15 CM long, but that’s the length of the towel. Cassiopa uses only 2/3rd of this length, thus she’s smaller than my other models. (This also happens with one of my Tommi models.) Smaller means that fewer details will be visible but it is still detailed enough.

The towel she’s on has a hole in it, which is too bad but I’m not too worried about it. I now know that I can’t use these kinds of thin plateaus for my models to rest upon. In the sandstone version, the towel had crumbled away.

The last model is Tommi which I’ve combined with a rack. I made a second version of Tommi climbing this rack but Tommi herself becomes small if you do this, thus losing details. Let’s look at the climbing version first:

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I gave Tommi a skirt instead of panties so you should have been able to look up her skirt. However, Shapeways repairs this automatically and as a result, the skirt became solid. And that’s a flaw in the skirt model.

This is a colored print so her texture helps to add details, but she’s too small to be very clear in details. She did have a flaw in her right hand, since her fingers were too thin and either did not get printed or broke off afterwards. A bit of paint will fix that, though. It is just something to remember.

So, remember: make sure thin parts are well-supported and preferably resting against something else and with clothes, be aware that Shapeways might fill in specific areas that you’ve hoped would stay hollow. In this case her skirt but I also tried another interesting top on Tommi but that added a white mass over her breasts since Shapeways was filling the area between the left and right cup.

Next, the bigger version of Tommi with her resting upon the rack. That one was perfect, although one of the legs from the rack had broken off during transport. So, even if a part is thick enough to print, it might still be very vulnerable. With a length of over 4 CM, they can’t handle a lot of stress. Still, this model is great with no broken appendices and even her toenails are visible!

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Well, at least I glued the leg back in place. I might decide to remove all four instead, though, if I fear they will break again. This model happens to be quite heavy too, which makes sense since she has the biggest volume of all. Her eyes are nicely detailed and her skin color even has some variation around her knees. And you can see her toenails! A bigger model is nice in that regard so if your model has a lot of fine details, have it printed in a larger scale! Although the price will scale up too, since more materials will be required.

Well, these three models all look reasonable well and taught me what I need to know about printing Poser models: use a reasonable large-scale, support all small parts and be aware that hollow spaces might end up being filled with extra material because Shapeways “repairs” some thin materials.

I kept these models mostly undressed because I know the textures of these models and needed to see how the color printing will support the texture details. Also, it is difficult to find Poser clothing models that are working well when uploaded to Shapeways. These models are not made to be printed in 3D but to be rendered. So finding good clothes to print is difficult. For Victoria 4, her bikini top and bottom do print quite well, though. They too are filled up, but the filling it towards the body of the model and not between both cups.

Another problem is the limitations on models set by Shapeways. There’s a size limit and there’s a polygon limit. (64 MB or 1 million polygons.) Poser models can easily go over this amount of polygons so you will have to find a way to reduce those, while keeping textures intact.

And then there’s the rack used by both models. The rack is the same length for both and I’ve created it myself by using the Firestorm viewer with the Second Life virtual worlds, but I could have used my own OpenSim world too. I just joined several cylinders for the rounded sides and balls for the rounded corners to build the framework. I also created a square plane with a hole inside, which I copied three times and put next to one another. I then exported the whole model from the SL viewer to a Collada file, which I imported in AccuTrans 3D to clean it up a bit and to reduce the complexity of it. (For example, by merging all parts into one single part.)

And then I checked if the rack has enough space for other hardware.

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Well, the rack isn’t wide enough for an Arduino board

Since I copied the square plane three times, I had expected all holes to have the same size. And the rack was made so I can add some hardware in the empty rack space and have some wires or other parts move through the open holes to e.g. shine a LED light on the model. So, I was surprised when I discovered that the middle hole was slightly bigger than the other two. Which I discovered by trying to fit an Arduino-board. (The YUN is shown in the picture.) The length is long enough for the Arduino Mega but it will have a few millimeters on the sides of the rack. The pins are actually at the exact location of the long bars. So you could actually put an Arduino in the rack if you don’t mind the width.

But smaller devices like the Arduino Mini, the Trinket, the NetDuino mini and the Digispark have plenty of room inside the rack.

But back to the holes!

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Using the climbing Tommi version, I used to try a green LED. It doesn’t fit the top or bottom hole but it does fit the middle hole. Trying it again with a regular lamp of 5 MM diameter, I see it going through the middle hole without effort but the top and bottom ones don’t fit. A laser light won’t even fit the middle hole, though.

The conclusion is that these holes are a bit too small for LED lights. No problem, since I can take a drill bit and make them wider. Still, I had hoped they would be big enough for a LED light. So I have to redo my calculations. And I have to wonder why the middle hole is bigger than the other two, while they’re basically all the same in my 3D software.

Anyway, I now have two great models for containing some of my experimental hardware. I know the racks are open so the hardware would be exposed but that’s something I will solve with a next version of my rack. I also know how thin the walls can be and how thin the walls of my rack are. I can still have the rounded areas but the rack should get more solid walls. Thin walls too, since the rack has a lot of volume.

Next, the question what I would like to create with these models. Whatever I think of should match the model. The three holes in the rack are meant for lights, cables, buttons or something else but I don’t want to show too much hardware on the model side of the rack. I also need to find a solution to attach the additional hardware to the rack, since it doesn’t have any special pins or whatever to hold them. Then again, these models were created to see how well these racks would print. The different hole size was a surprise for me which I need to include in my calculations.

And the three rack-less models? They’re just nice desk ornaments.I have ordered more prints so I will likely have more ornaments soon.

My next designs will have better racks, preferably with extra points to hold my hardware in place. The sandstone prints still look great but I have to consider the size of the whole thing. And I will need to experiment with clothing, to see which items will print best. The same is true with hair, since I still have to find hair that prints well in 3D.

All in all, 3D printing is a very interesting challenge. Slightly expensive too, though.

@Shapeways White plastic print

I started a new model called Ruby and wanted a 3D printed version of it. The original model is here, created with Poser Pro and rendered in Eon Vue just to make a pretty image to compare the rendered image with a printed version.Ruby Poses (Small)

I wanted a colored print but the arms and legs are too fragile for sandstone and the model has too many thin walls for colored plastic. So I wanted to know what it looks like in white plastic.


For additional comparisons, I used pictures of the printed model and a rendered image of the model in color and in white. The print is a bit grainy because the small print particles that make up the model are still a bit large. Smaller particles would generate a more smooth surface in my opinion but it would also take a lot longer to print.


This shot above displays how textures give shape to her hair. Even the white version has a texture setting some of the transparency, giving it some shape. This gets lost in the printed version, since 3D printing only works with shapes, not textures.

So, how about the rest? Front and back, right hand and left hand, right foot and left foot. The ruler in the front picture shows the model is slightly less than 20 cm high. The details look great, though. Even though the surface isn’t smooth, you can still see a lot of the original model in the print.

Her shoes look great though, even considering that these are the most vulnerable parts of the print. The straps are not connected to her foot and her toes are quite detailed. And I made her hands have a fistlike-shape but with some hollow area in them so that she could hold something in them. Which is exactly what I wanted. Now, I have to think about what she’s going to hold, though.

The next step is deciding how to continue with this model. I would like to paint it but that won’t be easy. Part of her face is barely reachable with a thin brush and making her look realistic would also be challenging. I’m a Software Engineer, not a Painter! So I’m probably keep her like this and make her hold two LED lights with a battery box and a switch and she would become a cute light. This will be fun!


I added a battery container, a switch and two lights to the model and added a picture of the result below. The wires are intentionally visible and so is the battery pack and switch. It did not require a lot of components but I did get to use my soldering iron and my glue pistol to get things in the proper place. (The switch is that blue thing on the bottom-left.)

These aren’t very bright lights but I did not want any bright lights!
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VIP wijn (Van @VIPInternet!) (In Dutch, sorry.)

Vandaag ontving ik een mooi, groot pakket van de postcode. Dat gebeurt regelmatig maar dit pakket was een beetje onverwacht, hoewel de afzender mij wel bekend klinkt.

De afzender is VIP Internet waar ik diverse domeinnamen heb geregistreerd waaronder de naam van mijn blog. Jeweetwel, wat je nu leest. VIP bestaat dit jaar namelijk 15 jaar en dat wilden ze vieren dus hebben ze een aantal pakketten verloot aan hun Twitter-volgers. Ik volg ze op Twitter dus ik had een kans. En ik won!


In de verpakking zat een mooi houten doosje met een bijbehorende brief. En ja, dat is een kist met wijn erin, maar welke soort wist ik nog niet meteen. Maar eerst, de brief lezen!


Ze bestaan al 15 jaar en ik heb al geruime tijd bij hen het een en ander geregistreerd. In het verleden heb ik zelfs een website door hen laten hosten maar tegenwoordig gebruik ik mijn eigen server daarvoor. Plus een virtuele server ergens in de Cloud. Plus Microsoft Azure. Eigenlijk gebruik ik ze alleen voor domein-registratie en het beheren van de bijbehorende DNS gegevens. En dat gaat heel goed.


En dan de wijnkist. Hierboven de kist nog in de doos, en hieronder buiten de doos. Een mooie kist, overigens.


Natuurlijk blijft de vraag over wat ik met het kistje ga doen zodra de wijn op is. Ik vind het altijd zonde om ze weg te gooien. Misschien dat iemand er een mooi vogelhuisje van kan maken, of zo? Ik zie wel! Maar eerst, de wijn!


Oh, nog meer brieven en er zit een fles ondersteboven in het kistje. Ziet eruit als rode wijn. Dat heeft wel mijn voorkeur, hoewel ik wijn meestal gebruik als ik een biefstukje bak en de just ga blussen met wat vocht. Rode wijn geeft een iets zoetere smaak aan de jus en maakt deze donkerder.

Maar dit is een drinkwijn, geen kookwijn…


Er zitten twee wijnflessen in. Een witte Merle Blanc de Chateau Clarke en is vanaf 2015 drinkbaar en houdbaar tot 2018. Ik denk dat dit een mooie fles is om met de Kerstdagen aan te breken.

De rode wijn is een Merlot, ook van Chateau Clarke, natuurlijk. Deze is al sinds 2014 drinkbaar en houdbaar tot 2025. Een mooie fles om het nieuwe jaar mee te gaan vieren!


En daar zijn de twee flessen met gefermenteerd druivensap. Ze zien er best mooi uit.

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Even de etiketten goed lezen. Mooie, Franse wijnen, dat moge duidelijk zijn. De witte wijn moet eigenlijk gekoeld worden tot 12 graden maar rode wijn drink je gewoon op kamertemperatuur. Ten minste, zolang het maar niet tropisch warm is.

Altijd ook leuk om te zien wat ik nog weet van mijn lessen Frans van vroeger. Gelukkig heeft de rode wijn tevens een Engelse vertaling, want mijn kennis van de Franse taal blijkt nog steeds even slecht te zijn…


Ziehier, de twee flessen wijn die ik bij VIP Internet heb gewonnen. Ik ben er best blij mee want met de feestdagen komen ze prima van pas. En voor diegenen die willen weten welke fles mijn favoriet is:


Tja, sorry. Ik drink eigenlijk vrij zelden wijn. Een glas cola vind ik namelijk net zo lekker bij de maaltijd. Maar bij een speciale maaltijd hoort geen cola, maar gewoon een mooie fles wijn. En die heb ik nu! Geloof mij maar, ze komen wel op rond de kerstdagen. Ze zien er lekker uit en zijn best goed van kwaliteit. Ik ben er dan ook best blij mee.

Shapeways 3D printing

Well, as you know, I like making 3D images. But nowadays there’s also an option of making 3D prints. You can do this with your own 3D printer or you’ll use the services of a company like Shapeways.

Personally, I want to experiment with my own 3D printers but finding a good one isn’t easy. On KickStarter, I found Tiko, the unibody 3D printer which looks great! So I supported it since I want one! It is now funded so they are working on creating it and then shipping it so I have to be patient before I can 3D print myself. And I’m not patient!

So I have experimented with Shapeways, which is fun. And my first experiments failed mostly. I noticed several interesting challenges because 3D printing and 3D rendering are two completely different things. Take, for example, this model that I’ve called Bianca:
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A nice bikini model wielding a sword and something I really would have liked in color. Unfortunately, Shapeways does offer color printing but the details on this model are too fine for this. They have colored sandstone and colored plastic. Unfortunately, sandstone is brittle during printing and the model might fall apart during handling. Full-color plastic is better but requires a minimum thickness of some parts and there’s a size limitation. The largest size allowed for this model resulted in too many thin walls. So I decided to go for strong, white plastic instead:


The drawback of white plastic is that I now have to paint it myself. Which is okay, since the print was perfect. Even her sword came out nicely. Only the bikini bottom had a flaw, since at one point of her backside, there’s a hollow area because the material was too thin. But hey, it looks funny so I don’t mind. :)

Still, I wanted a colored 3D print so I experimented a bit and decided to use this dinosaur as a model:


And I kept it just simple so I can experience what the material would look like. But also, it allowed me to see how well the sandstone can handle pointy, short things. And the result looks great:


Okay, not my finest picture but the result looks good. The sandstone glitters a bit, though. But the horns are great and the print was perfect, except for a broken toe. That’s basically a flaw that can happen with the chosen material.

There are many other materials to choose from, including metallic plastic and even expensive metals. But printing in those materials is complex and requires shapes with thicker walls and fewer details. Printing in gold is also very expensive because, gold! You don’t want to have big, gold models unless you have a big wad of money available.

For 3D printing, various techniques are used. The technique generally depends on the material used. Shapeways has a nice material selector for picking the materials you like and provides detailed information to use when you create your model. Metals are especially complex because they need to print a mold first. Once it is done, they have to pour the hot metal into the mold and then polish the result. Although fine details are possible, they might get lost during polishing and they might not reach all areas for polishing.

I have one model printed in Elasto plastic, which is fun stuff. This model can bounce since it’s a bit rubber-like. I have 4 models in hard plastic and two dinosaurs in sandstone, I’ve ordered a few more but they tend to be canceled because of small flaws that are discovered during manual checkups before they start printing. Often, it’s just the wall thickness, loose shells or other minor flaws but they are important because your finely detailed model might miss some fingers or other parts because these walls were too thin. Or the model is made from two or more parts and not all printers can print multiple parts.

Still, you can always tell Shapeways to print it anyways. I did so with several models and the results were fine. Except for one sandstone model, where the legs had broken off and some parts had shifted.

So, how do 3D printing and 3D rendering differ from one another? Well, there are a lot of differences and as I’ve discovered, when rendering I have some semi-transparent parts in my model that adds some special effects. For example, my model has a cornea that adds reflection or other special effects to the eye. But in a 3D print, there is no transparency so it becomes a blob over the colors of the iris.

Also, with rendering you tend to use bump mapping and set up special lighting to make the model look good. In printing, all you have is the shape of the model, nothing else. Details have to be part of the shape when printing while rendering images allows other tricks for those details.

And printing has only one color, unless you choose the 3D color printing options. You can still paint your model afterwards and to do so, I would recommend the strong, white plastic and acrylic paints. Of course, a color print is optional but the result might not be what you expect. Again, in a 3D rendering, the colors can be enhanced by using all kinds of techniques. For a 3D print, you’ll have to find a place in your house where the light will show your model from its best side.

Finally, the printing quality. If we were talking about 2D printer, we’d be talking at the number of DPI of a printer. In 3D world, we have to look at the volume of the smallest particle that the printer supports. And this also makes clear why 3D printing tends to be slow. If the smallest part is 0.2×0.2×0.2 millimeters and you’re printing something that fits a box of 20x20x30 centimeters then you’re using a lot of drops! Of course, the model will be smaller than such a box but my Bianca model was almost 80 cubic centimeters.

And to be honest, my 3D print needs a bit of polishing since those particles leave very, very tiny bumps on my model. Still, my sandstone dinosaur are made from bigger particles and feel like very fine sandpaper. Polishing should be possible, though. I just don’t want to risk it.

I’m still waiting for a few more models to return from the printer. I want my dinosaur in colored plastic just to see what that material is like. I also ordered it in white plastic for painting purposes. And I ordered two sandstone prints of this model:

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Two versions because I used two different hair styles.

I hope this will print well and to help the printing process, I made sure the model is on a plateau for stability and put the hands and feet against something solid. I’ve set the bikini top and bottom to the thickest setting and now I just have to wait until they can take it into production.

So, my conclusion is that 3D printing has its challenges. I still have to wait for my 3D printer to arrive before I can really start making my stuff but for now, Shapeways is providing me a great service for testing purposes. Okay, a lot of my models have been rejected for flaws but you can only learn from your flaws! So I’m fine with that. I just start all over again until it goes right.

Spammer almost fooled me!

SpammerI generally manage to recognise spam quite easily. But this email from did an almost-excellent reasonable well trick to fool me. And why did it almost fool me? Because I’ve occasionally bought stuff from Amazon, including the British site.

What made it look reliable was the fact that all links to the Amazon website did indeed point to the Amazon website. Most spammers show one URL in the email but hidden beneath it, you get redirected to a completely different website. So, where did it go wrong for this spammer?

Well, I had not ordered anything from Amazon and I definitely did not return anything to them either. So, this message was unfamiliar to me. It was strange, thus suspicious. Still, I did not see anything harmful until I looked down and saw an extra message and an attachment included in the email…

Spammer IIAnd that was even more suspicious! It is very likely not a document but some malware-thing hidden in a document. I don’t know and I don’t want to know. Opening it will infect my system so it stays closed.

The email claims there’s an “advanced electronic signature” attached to this note and I need to add it as a trusted certificate. Well, never do such a silly thing because someone asks you nicely by email. It can be reasonable harmless and just include advertisements in every webpage you visit from then on. Or, it allows some hacker to do a man-in-the-middle attack with your online banking account. That would cost you a lot of money!

There was a third reason why I knew its fake. I have a whole domain name with the possibility to create an unlimited amount of email aliases. I use a special alias for Amazon and this email was not received by that account.

I also use Google Apps and created a Google group within my domain for those aliases that tend to receive a lot of spam. So, spammers end in this group from where I can collect any data and offer it to anyone I like. And this email arrived in my spam-box! Thus, I knew it was spam before I even looked at it. Still, some emails just make me curious and the Google group is a reasonable safe area to contain this kind of spam.

Too bad, though. I would have liked the extra cash in my bank account.

Still, there are a few more things that should warn you that this is a fake email. For example, the email tells you to download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader but the attached document is a Word document, not an Adobe document. (Not a PDF.) And, the talk about the electronic signature is highly suspicious.

For the technicians among you, there’s even a clear warning signal in the headers of this email:

Received-SPF: fail ( domain of does not designate as permitted sender) client-ip=;
       spf=fail ( domain of does not designate as permitted sender);
       dmarc=fail (p=QUARANTINE dis=QUARANTINE)

That’s right! Amazon has a special protection on their domain name and Google will check this SPF thing. And the original IP address from where this email was sent is not a valid IP address that is used by Amazon. In fact, spammers seem to use this IP address for more of their spamming and hacking attempts.

So, what do we learn from all this? Well, first of all the use of email aliases tells me this is spam before I even see it. Second of all, you need to read carefully and see if the email makes some strange suggestions. Third, be careful when opening attachments. Better yet, never open any attachment that you did not ask for!

Loterijen zijn geldklopperij! (En toch speel ik mee.)

First an apology to my International friends who don’t understand Dutch. Occasionally, I have a topic that’s just more interesting for people in my region than for the whole World. Like this one, where I’m nagging about lotteries in the Netherlands and how they almost force you to buy tickets. I’m especially talking about some lotteries that are mostly known in the Netherlands and target Dutch people so I write this in Dutch. I do know that Google Translate can do an excellent job at translating, though! But if you’re not Dutch then this is probably not so interesting for you.

Heb je wel eens aan een loterij meegedaan? Heb je daarbij ook wel eens wat gewonnen? De meest gehoorde klachten in Nederland is dat het allemaal pure geldklopperij is, dat het vooral de organisatie is die er rijk van wordt en dat als je dan iets is, de prijs meestal niet eens de moeite waard is en vaak niet eens hoger dan je inleg. En ja, zo denk ik er ook over.

Loterijen zijn niet bedacht om geld weg te geven maar om juist geld in te zamelen voor bepaalde doelen. Vaak is het doel gewoon het vullen van de zakken van de organisatoren maar de wetgeving in Nederland heeft daar een redelijk stokje voor gestoken met de kansspel-wetgeving. De Wet op de kansspelen legt strenge regels op aan kansspelen in Nederland en doet dat mede om het risico op een gokverslaving te voorkomen of te verminderen. Maar ook om criminaliteit te bestrijden want met kansspelen kan veel geld verdient worden door de organisatoren. En de organisatoren hebben een zorgplicht ten opzichte van de spelers en moeten hen wijzen op de risico’s, de kansen en vooral ook aangeven wat het doel is van het geld dat de organisator ermee verdient.

Voor loterijen met (grote) geldprijzen is bovendien toestemming nodig van bepaalde overheids-organen en die stellen vaak eisen aan het doel van de opbrengst van deze loterijen. Vandaar dat in Nederland de meeste loterijen zijn verbonden aan goede doelen omdat ze anders gewoon geen toestemming krijgen. Nu kunnen er ook wel loterijen zijn waarbij het doel gewoon het spekken van de zakken van de organisatoren is maar omdat het doel vermeldt moet worden voor de deelnemers is dat iets wat erg onsympathiek over komt en  dus meestal niet als doel wordt gebruikt.

Daarnaast zal bij iedere prijs boven de € 454 ook nog eens 29% kansspelbelasting betaald moeten worden. En dat moet ook aan de deelnemers worden gecommuniceerd! Het is dan best leuk als je dan b.v. € 1.000 wint met de Lotto maar uiteindelijk komt er maar € 710 op je bankrekening. De Staatsloterij is gelukkig zo vriendelijk om de te winnen prijzen te tonen na aftrek van deze belasting maar die kunnen dat makkelijk doen omdat de prijzen vaste bedragen hebben. Bij de Lotto en de Postcodeloterij kan men dat echter niet en rekenen deelnemers zich vaker rijker dan ze werkelijk zullen worden. Van grote geldprijzen wordt vooral de belastingdienst enorm blij omdat ze dan bijna een derde van het prijzengeld ontvangen!

Nu zijn er drie loterijen waar ik aan mee doe. Zo doe ik al decennia lang mee aan de staatsloterij, iets langer dan een jaar aan de Lotto en enkele maanden aan de Postcodeloterij. Ook de Toto heb ik wel eens ingevuld voor de lol en met dit alles heb ik best wisselende resultaten behaald. Maar je verliest er gewoon meer mee dan dat je er mee wint, tenzij je een der gelukkigen bent die een grote hoofdprijs wint. Maar gezien het aantal deelnemers vraag je dan wel om behoorlijk veel geluk.

Ik besloot ooit mee te doen aan de Staatsloterij omdat ik mij bezig hield over hoe alles op deze wereld zo mooi in balans lijkt te zijn en te blijven. En raakt iets uit balans dan vindt het vanzelf een nieuwe balans. En dan hoor je ook nog dingen over Karma en hoe ieders leven eigenlijk ook een kwestie is van balans tussen van alles en nog wat. En ik dacht bij mijzelf dat geluk en pech dus ook een soort van balans met elkaar hebben. Dus heb je geluk met iets dan krijg je pech met iets anders. En omdat ik graag van mijn pech af ben en het best pech is als je de Staatsloterij niet wint besloot ik eraan mee te doen, wetende dat de loterij mijn pech wegneemt en ik iets meer geluk heb met andere zaken. En zo verlies ik iedere maand weer met die loterij en dat brengt mij iedere keer weer een grote glimlach want dan ga ik met iets anders wat extra geluk hebben.

Okay, bijgeloof. Belachelijk om erin te geloven dus echt erin geloven doe ik niet. Maar wat als het toch waar is? Ach, gezien de lage prijs van een enkel lot kan het geen kwaad om gewoon mee te doen en dus doe ik al enkele decennia mee. Het hoogste wat ik daarbij won was € 75 en meestal win ik niets of minder dan mijn inleg. Wat een pech! Maar daar hoor je mij niet over klagen.

Ik ben eventjes met de Toto mee gaan doen tijdens de kampioenschappen en ik moet toegeven dat sport mij totaal niet interesseert en ik niet eens meer weet welke kampioenschappen dat waren. Maar ik deed mee omdat ik toch altijd pech heb met loterijen en dus ging ik bij iedere wedstrijd van het Nederlandse team een tientje inzetten op de tegenstander. Mijn pech zou ervoor zorgen dat ik verloor en dus ook de tegenpartij en dus zou ons Nederlandse team gaan winnen. En eerlijk gezegd kwamen we behoorlijk ver, tot ik een keer vergat in te zetten. Daarna lagen we eruit.

Dus karma bestaat niet,zeg je? Stom bijgeloof? Oh, dat geloof ik ook nog steeds. Ik deed gewoon mee omdat ik sowieso altijd zou winnen. Als ik met de Toto verloor dan zou Nederland kampioen gaan worden. En als Nederland verloor dan had ik een leuk prijsje verdiend om wat leuks mee te doen. Dus ik won iedere keer, behalve die keer dat ik niet had ingezet.

De Toto en de Lotto zijn beiden van dezelfde organisatie dus mijn deelname aan de Toto deed mij ook eens kijken naar de Lotto. Het leek mij wel leuk en je kon je eigen cijfers kiezen en de prijs is ook behoorlijk laag. Best veel trekkingen ook dus veel kansen om mijn pech mee te verliezen. Wel, ik kan wel wat extra geluk gebruiken dus ik besloot mee te gaan doen. En inderdaad, meestal win ik of mijn speltegoed, of een euro of heb ik helemaal geen prijs en daar was ik best tevreden over. Eindelijk wat extra pech kwijt.

En dan heb je een moment dat je het financieel even lastig hebt en wel een extra zakcentje kunt gebruiken om Oktober door te komen. En dan komt het geluk rollen uit dezelfde hoek waar mijn pech naartoe gaat. Ik had opeens 5 cijfers goed, ofwel een prijs van € 1.000 waar dan weer de belasting vanaf moest. Nou, daar hoor je mij dus niet over klagen. Mijn extra pech-verzamelaar heeft dus lekker voor wat extra geluk gezorgd!

Geloof ik in Karma? Nee, echt niet! Maar het wordt mij niet eenvoudig gemaakt…

En in het begin van 2014 kreeg ik bij een bestelling een gratis lot van de postcodeloterij. Even online invullen en je speelt meteen gratis mee. Wel meteen weer opzeggen want anders zit je er voor een jaar aan vast! Ingevuld, meegedaan en meteen weer opgezegd. Ik won niets en had ook niets anders verwacht maar vond dat ik wel die kans had moeten grijpen toen ik deze voor nop kreeg. Enkele maanden later kreeg ik weer een gratis lot dus weer ingevuld en meegedaan en opnieuw niets gewonnen. Tja, jammer maar opnieuw gewoon de kans gegrepen. Alleen jammer dat ik vergat om meteen weer op te zeggen.

Maar dit keer is het mis gegaan met mijn karma. Ik vergat op te zeggen en daardoor speelde ik ook mee met de nieuwjaarstrekking van de Postcodeloterij. En wat zou ik gebaald hebben als ik indertijd wel had opgezegd want de kanjer-prijs viel op de cijfers van mijn postcode! In plaats daarvan werd ik gek toen ik hoorde dat hij op mijn postcode was gevallen, mede ook omdat de letters nog niet bekend waren gemaakt en dit letterlijk een miljoenenprijs is.

Toch is mijn karma nog steeds in balans. Ik had de kerstdagen doorgebracht met een zware griep en een enorm gebrek aan eetlust tijdens het kerstdiner en ik dacht net hersteld te zijn maar het tweede griepje is er gewoon mooi achteraan gekomen. Geluk met de loterij lijkt ten koste te gaan van mijn gezondheid.

En nu wil ik niet eens meer in karma geloven! Dit begint eng te worden.

Maar gelukkig, de letters zijn bekend gemaakt en dat zijn niet mijn letters. Ik hoef de prijs dus niet te delen met een paar andere geluksvogels maar moet hem delen met een groot aantal geluksvogels, waardoor het toch een relatief kleine prijs blijft. (Want zo werkt de Postcodeloterij nu eenmaal.) De kansspelbelasting gaat er ook nog eens van af dus het valt allemaal best mee. Hoe groot de prijs is moet ik nog te horen krijgen.

Maar ik begin bang te worden voor de jackpot van de Staatsloterij die over een paar dagen getrokken gaat worden. Als ik die win dan vrees ik dat mijn gezondheid zoveel pech heeft dat ik in een houten kist afgevoerd kan worden. Dus nee, ik geloof niet in karma want dan kan ik hem toch rustig winnen zonder nare gevolgen…

Tja, ik vind al die loterijen nog steeds geldklopperij die vooral bedoeld zijn om geld te verzamelen voor bepaalde doeleinden. Vrijwel iedereen verliest ermee behalve de belastingdienst en de betreffende doelen. Ennee, karma bestaat niet, behalve in een klein, onzeker hoekje in mijn hoofd dat er voor zorgt dat ik toch maar een lot blijf kopen. Want je weet maar nooit…