Grant Diffendaffer

Design. Make. Educate.

One of my most exciting recent projects was my involvement with the Gods in Color exhibit at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco. I was invited by Curator Renee Dreyfus to projection map a large marble panel from the ancient Parthenon. The museum had in their possession a plaster replica of the approximately 5 foot wide panel, which was “liberated” from Greece under the Ottoman Empire by the Earl of Elgin, who from 1801 to 1812, moved almost half the marble sculpture from the Parthenon to Britain, where they now controversially reside in the British Museum.

Parthenon Panel. Without projection mapping.

A fact not known to all who have grown accustomed to seeing classical sculpture as pure white marble is that all of these sculptures were once actually painted in full color. It is not known exactly how everything appeared but research has revealed the natural pigments that were used and where they were applied to the marble. It is thought likely that the surfaces were finished in rather garish fashion to highlight them from afar.

Parthenon Panel. Projection mapping by Grant Diffendaffer

For the exhibit, I used a painting that was a historical representation done by Rebecca Levitan, as part of a project at Emory University. For my part, I began by photographing the panel to create a digital 3D photogrammetric representation of the panel. For that purpose, I used 250 high res photos, which I processed using Autodesk’s Recap Photo software. From there I used a process that moved back and forth between ZBrush and Photoshop to accurately project the lines of the painting to the surface of the digital model.

My hope was to use this process to correct and align the artwork so that it would accurately display when shown from a single projector onto the surface of the actual plaster panel. This was something that was somewhat easier said than done. While I had hoped to make the actual projection alignment a digital process, using either scanning or photogrammetry, it ended up being a more manual process.  It was still a useful and productive journey for me to pass through that digital space, and it was clear to me that this is a useful projection mapping workflow–one that will get easier as software and hardware options combine to basically let projectors “see” what they are projecting.

Many thanks to all who made the project possible–Renee Dreyfus, Rebecca Levitan, and Rich Rice, as well as the photography department of the DeYoung.

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I’ve detailed a bit of the work done by Five Ton Crane which we have dubbed Oakland Squared. Created for an exhibit at the SF MOMA Artist’s Gallery, the large collaborative panels are composed of the work of many different artists, and are now hanging in the lobby of the Latham Square Building in uptown Oakland.

The works gained popularity for their ability to evoke the unique landscapes of the place that many in our Oakland based arts group call home, and for their unique way of providing an equal platform to so many artists at the same time, while showcasing a cohesive greater perspective at the same time. As a result, we were asked to create two new panels for permanent installation in the newly remodeled Moffitt Library at U.C. Berkeley.

Again working with the theme of scenes of the place we call home, these two new panels show views of the Berkeley campus, namely Sproul Plaza, home of the free speech movement and of the S.O.G.A. Gardens, land of the Student Organic Gardening Association.

It was a special honor for me to be involved with this project, as I had just become proudly employed in the U.C. Berkeley College of Environmental Design at the Digital Fabrication Lab, where they have bestowed upon me the title “Mechanician.” What that means is I was able to spend some time familiarizing myself with the tools of the lab, and in the process created a square composed of layers of material processed by laser cutting, laser engraving, and ZUND. Yes, ZUND. You know–ZUND, the all-powerful digital swiss army knife of industrial machinery. My 12″x12″ square is made of Acrylic, Wood, Paper, and Colored Pencil.


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I’ve been too busy doing and making to write much this last year but I’ve got to tell you to come on down to the original Maker Faire this weekend at the San Mateo Fairgrounds where you can hear all about it in person. I’m back with Steadcraft and eager to show you all of my latest creations. I’m busy in the studio right now putting last minute finishing touches on a collection of creations. Come see how my craft has taken a digital turn–with familiar handcraft like metal work and embroidery having found their way out of history–through circuitry melded with creativity.

I’ll be showing my latest machine creation–a P3Steel. Whut’s that you say? It is an open source 3D printer–a derivative of the most famous such design, a Prusa I3. Come find out why I thought it was worth my time to go down this particular kit rabbit-hole (Mostly it is a Spanish thing).

The main reason I haven’t been posting here (besides being busy building aforementioned metal beast), is that I have been heavily occupied by my new job (since September 2016) working as a Mechanician in the Digital Fabrication Lab (DFL) at the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. There, we assist students in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning with the creation of models–an essential part of their process. What is digital about that? While students have been drawing with computers for quite some time, the fabrication side of things has taken a little longer to catch up. Now though, instead of primarily focusing on manually cutting and gluing everything, students also use computerized machinery. The lab has half a dozen laser cutters, 8 3D printers, a CNC router (with tool changer), a CNC mill and a Zund.

The latest addition in the DFL is a desktop 3D scanner. I have recently picked up a Sony A7 ii (full frame digital camera)–with the purpose of upping my photogrammetry game. Come on down to the DFL (sign up first) May 30th, 31st, and June 1st and I’ll teach you everything I know about reality capture and 3D printing.

What else has happened in the last year…let’s see… In my life, I have also done a short creative stint with the Mythbusters production team as they reboot the series after the great Adam and Jamie moved on to other things.

I got to go to Mexico this winter where the best three hours I spent were in the National Museum of Anthropology. Besides being an overwhelming presentation of incredible ancient monumental (and personal ornamental) artworks, representative of fantastically developed long lost civilizations, it is probably the best place I have ever been for photogramettry. I could have stayed there for days on end.

I don’t have enough fancy tools in my life so I bought into a huge and powerful laser cutter.

I witnessed the kinetic creations of the otherworldly famous Kinetic Sculpture Grand Challenge.

I delved into 3D stop motion filmaking (my secret dream job).

I spent months trying to build a complete photogrammetry model of the Storied Haven. Part of the work that I do with 5 Ton Crane, this site installation is headed to the Hermitage Museum in Virginia. One of our previous projects, the Raygun Gothic Rocketship, was just installed outside the Wings over the Rockies Museum in Denver. We also made permanent installations of our Oakland Squared project in the Latham Square Building in downtown Oakland and the Moffett Library at U.C. Berkeley.

I managed not to get washed off the hillside in this winter’s epic rains.

And now I am digging into an upcoming exhibition at the Legion of Honor Museum.

Oh, also, I’m teaching a workshop on Photogrammetry, 3D Scanning and 3D printing. May 30th, 31st, and June 1st. Spaces still available! is down for the moment for repair, so stay tuned here for everything me, and come find me by the big door in the Expo Hall (Zone 2 by CCA) and I’ll tell you all about it in person!


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Five Ton Crane‘s “Oakland Squared” project was originally conceived for public installation in the outdoor window displays of the SF MOMA Artist’s gallery. After a six month installation there, they now have a new home in the newly-renovated Latham Square Building in uptown Oakland.
Each of the six original panels consists of individual 12″x12″ squares, created by various artists from our collective of several dozen. Via various styles, techniques, and materials, these multiple squares comprise iconic scenes of Oakland, the place where we collectively work. Long a home for artists, the city houses many peoples and industries, a heritage and history that we have each touched in our own unique way.
I contributed two CNC embroidered squares to this panel of the Fox Theater–just a block from where the panels now hang. So if you are in the neighborhood for a show at the Fox, come down Telegraph for a greyhound at Cafe Van Kleef, then walk next door to 1611 Telegraph Avenue and have a look at this richly detailed and diverse project.

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Maker Faire made for many interesting memories. We had a great show with Steadcraft and are already looking forward to next year. If you haven’t been before, put it on your calendar now. For anybody used to toiling in relative obscurity with some strange obsession, you probably have had the experience of finally connecting in person with someone who really understands what you do. Maker Faire is where all of these people find their tribe.

I didn’t get to range very far from the booth and there are several things I’m already feeling sorry for missing, but I made a couple discoveries I’m excited to share.


CNC embroidery attachment at Printrbot

First off, this amazing attachment that the folks over at Printerbot made which turns an ordinary sewing machine into a CNC embroidery machine. I didn’t see it in action, but from what I understand, it has a microcontroller and mechanics which allow it to accept SVG files (vectors) and to sew those patterns by moving the embroidery frame on the XY axis. I did’t see results from this machine either, but am looking forward to something that I can share with you here.

I loved this levitating sculpture from Nick Dong at Studio Dong

Other highlights included this electroluminescent Tesla with a FLIR camera and powerful digital projector being shown by Racing Extinction, an important documentary project depicting the plight of Earth’s species.

I didn’t make it over to see the La Attrata sculpture being constructed by Therm for Burning Man, but I found this photo and can’t wait to see the gorgeous stainless steel moth lighted and enlivened.

Lastly, I have to share this amazing looking update of the Printrbot Metal that is due to ship soon. Highlights include a linear rail motion system, increased build size (to 6″ x 8″ x 8″), and touchscreen.



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This map should help. We are in Zone 2, all the way at the corner of the building, kitty corner to the California College of the Arts area. On this map it is marked as the “Make Electronics” area.


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Peachy Printer has posted an “uncut video” to prove to the world that they actually have a working prototype. It is not terribly surprising to see it function, as the technology is basically all there and cheap. Still, backers have never seen a start to finish print video like this and it has made a lot of people feel better right as they were starting to think the whole crowdfunding campaign and product development was a scam.

There seems to be a fair amount of evidence that development did happen. The prototype shown in the video does have a USB connection rather than the original audio output (for starters). I have been pushed and pulled throughout this process, wanting to believe Rylan Grayston, and understand what could be a true story about his plight, while still feeling fairly well ripped off.
Two problems here. One, this is not the video we have all been waiting for. It is only satisfying under the circumstances. With the camera and print both moving, under inadequate light, with the focus constantly shifting, and then the video ends, it hardly gives a clear enough shot of the print to judge quality.
The most telling thing to me (besides the revelation of seeing the thing work), was the model chosen to print. It was not a true dimensional form, instead being an extrusion of a 2D profile. That’s right, it was a text stamp.

Fourteen years ago I was making photopolymer stamps with nothing more than two pieces of glass, a bit of foam weather stripping, resin, blacklight, and inkjet transparency paper. It gave excellent sharp results. It can be done using either liquid resin or metal backed plate. Discovering this is part of what lead me to 3D printing allowed me to understand and be willing to back a project like Peachy Printer.
So I’m not surprised to see the printer make a stamp. But as far as I can tell, I did a better job with my photopolymer flexographic printing plates.
No doubt many people are relieved to be able to show this video to their friends and family to prove they were not insane or stupid to back a project like this. (I’m glad I can show my family and friends.) However, until I see this printer create true three dimensional forms, I won’t believe that it prints with the quality claimed.
The biggest problem with this specific print, beyond the fact that it is simply a shallow extrusion, is that it can be created by programming the laser to trace the same profile over and over. It doesn’t demonstrate any ability of the printer to regulate the layer height, or know where it is in the print. It also does not demonstrate that the code driving the laser comes from slices of a 3D model. Peachy claims development of a slicer to transform models into layers and translate that into output that drives the laser in sync with the rising layer height. That in fact is necessary for this to be a 3D printer. This print could have been created without a 3D model at all, because every layer of an extrusion is the same. This could have been created by the laser simply tracing the same profile repetitively without any consideration for layer layer height–as long as the layer continued to raise.

It may be that we will see actual 3D printing from this Peachy device. I hope we do. Backers are buoyed by this video and many are clearly ready to give more money to the project to see it to completion. I’d like to see it work. I’d like to see Rylan Grayston out of the hole he is in and to see the backers duly rewarded after their long wait. I’m not going to risk throwing good money after bad though. I’m liquidating my investment in Peachy Printer. The ebay auction on my Peachy Printer Beta Kit closes at 1:13pm Pacific time today.
Standard benchmark print models are freely available in the 3D printing community. They exist to test all of the necessary capabilities of the printer at one time, with one model. Let’s see one of those Peachy Printer. How about this:

Benchmark Print


The difference here is plain to see. Peachy’s demonstration print tests only a single quality when what we look for in a 3D test print will define the limits of a printer on the following terms.

  • size: the object is 2x50x30mm (baseplate)
  • hole size: 3 holes (3/4/5mm)
  • Nut size: M4 Nut should fit perfectly
  • fine details: pyramide, cone, all numbers
  • rounded print: wave, half sphere
  • minimum distance & walls: 0.1/0.2/0.3/0.4/0.5/0.6/0.7mm
  • overhang: 25°/30°/35°/40°/45°
  • bridge print: 2/4/8/16/mm
  • surface: all the flat parts

Come on Peachy Printer. Live up.

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