I really like flashlights, namely of the relatively small, high intensity LED variety. I have a small collection of two Surefires and more recently a Fenix PD35. At 860 max lumens, this thing is a pocket sized spotlight!
Well this love for flashlights must be hereditary, as my two year old would run off with any flashlight left within reach. We put a stop to that right off the bat and now keep my lights out of toddler territory. Even my dimmest light (60 lumens) is too bright for a two year old (or anyone for that matter) to stare into, as he is apt to do.
So hey, bright idea (heh), let's get the kid a flashlight for Christmas. Well a quick look at flashlights marketed for kids showed a bunch of crap, destined for a land fill. Dim, poorly constructed and generally not long for this world. So we decided to forgo them all together and get him a 'real' flashlight.
However, even at 14 lumens, I thought that perhaps it could be a little dimmer. Thus I decided to design and print a cap to mount to the head of the flashlight. This cap would serve to hold a translucent lens and hopefully dim the beam down a bit. Why, do this when one could easily remove the existing clear lens, sand or steel wool the back of it and VOILA have a diffused beam? The challenge to actually build something functional, maybe? Or perhaps it's along the lines of that old adage 'buy a hammer and everything starts to look like a nail.' Whatever, I knew it would be fun to try, and it has been.
So, first off I got a digital scan of the flashlight head, courtesy of the good Scott Janousek.
I took this scan and threw it into 3DS Max, where with the help of the actual item and a micrometer, I built a correctly (hopefully) scaled, symmetrical reference model.
Once I had the reference model (with fingers crossed that I got the measurements right) I imported it into Zbrush. There I modeled the two part cap.
While I was at it, I also incorporated an 'anti roll' bezel for the heck of it. Not a CAD model by any stretch of the imagination, but it ended up pretty clean nonetheless. Zbrush's Dynamesh subtract can (when behaving properly) can give some satisfying results.
The model loaded to the Uprint without a hitch and printed nicely. As of this writing it is sitting in an alkali bath having it's support material dissolved away. Unfortunately, as I was in a hurry, I didn't take the opportunity to photograph the parts, hot from the machine. That said, I will be sure to post the final product. Fingers crossed!