Hi, noob here!
In brief, I make flues for a hobby (wood, ceramic) and decided to try 3D design etc. Seemed endless possibilities. I began by working with a CAD designer, sending 2D schematics, getting models, testing prototypes, altering designs based on performance, etc. I'm getting close to the point where some initial designs are where I'd like them musically. I'd like to incorporate some decorative aspects. Some might be sculpting, but this will take me some time to learn (also considering some outsourcing here too). The other was mapping images/patterns/colors to the flute surfaces, then using a 3D color printing technology to realize them.
I know there are issues of materials safety (actually, it's hard to find any hard data on the Z-corp materials and safety), but I'm hoping long term this will be worked out. Also, I plan to coat in polyU which is considered mostly food safe. Anyway, an issue to work out. I'm sure the printed ceramics will be another route down the road, too.
Right now, I'm considering buying 3D-Coat, but before I spend the money, I need to know whether I can output the images I'm seeing in the demo in a way that I can have a service like Shapeways etc print them. I basically import a .wrl file, import an image as a jpg, then use the "Fill" command in the Paint mode, choosing entire object. This has done well visually in the program (some distortion but looks cool), without messy UV mapping issues (for a noob). However, I don't know if this sort of painting can be exported in a way that 3D printers can realize them. I know when you UV map textures etc it works when you output the maps etc. What I don't know is what the heck "Fill" is actually doing!
Thanks for any help!
ps In case your interested, here is a demo of the first flute I printed from 3D CAD designs: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10352541/thin.mov