Friday, August 29, 2008

Machinate: Context Free to Ponoko possibilities

This post is proud to have been syndicated to the Ponoko blog.

My previous post about NYC Resistor led me to look into one intriguing item on their list:

Context Free is decribed as:

"a small language for design grammars called CFDG. These grammars are sets of non-deterministic rules to produce images. The images are surprisingly beautiful, often from very simple grammars."

circle-square-3-grid by nimble

Above is the catchily named 'circle-square-3-grid.cfdg' by nymble, one of many images that can be viewed in the Context Free Gallery. Of course, because these images are generated using a certain amount of chaos, or at least unpredictability, these images are only examples of what you might get after you have downloaded Context Free and run the source file.

NYC Resistor suggest using Context Free to generate paths for laser cutting, a process I was keen to evaluate - it turns out it can be done remarkably easy, the success I guess depending on the type of image one is working with (ie. whether it translates into usable vectors for cutting or engraving). I successfully exported a .svg from Context Free to Illustrator, and with a little editing of colours had a set of paths that made for a usable Ponoko .eps file. In my case I used this Pringles-like character programmed by 'whistle tips':

Natty Boh CFDG by whistle tips

And here is the resulting .eps. - let's see some context free laser engraving everyone!

Incidentally there is some really amusing commenting on the CFDG website that goes with the above image!

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