If you have any sort of device that cuts like a CNC mill or a laser cutter, you probably generate a lot of strange-looking scrap material. Most of us hate to throw anything away, but how do you plan to use all these odd shapes? [Caddzeus] has an answer.  Using a camera and some software he digitizes the shapes accurately into a form usable in his CAD package of choice.

The process involves setting up some targets with known dimensions that will appear in the photograph. This allows the picture to be taken without being overly concerned about the distance to the camera or the angle.

Using GIMP, he adjusts the images to remove the perspective. He then brings the image into Inkscape where he can accurately scale and trace the shape.

There are detailed instructions — including videos — but if you know how to use these tools, you can probably figure it out for yourself. This technique would be useful, too, if you wanted to get an outline of something you intend to mill or cut into your CAD program as a reference. We like to do this with a laser cutter so you can burn the outline of something you are engraving or cutting on a piece of paper before you start and easily align the workpiece to the laser.

Of course, a small part could surrender its image to a conventional scanner and you can use a similar technique to adjust the scale. If you start using Inkscape a lot, you’ll want more plugins. You never know what you might build from some scrap odds and ends.


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