Ed Nisley has been taking a look at a less-frequently used tool in OpenSCAD to help him generate automated cookie cutters from image files. Take a look at where he started and then trace his progress into “Height Map Image File Preparation“, “Creating the Height Map Data File“, and finally “Putting It All Together“.
From his initial post on the subject:
While pondering the notion of making cookie cutters, it occurred to me that the process could be automated: a grayscale height map image of the cookie should be enough to define the geometry. The existing height map solutions (like William Adams’s fine work) seem entirely too heavyweight, what with custom Windows or Java programs and suchlike. Some doodling indicates that a simpler solution may suffice for my simple needs, although the devil always hides in the details.
The overall problem with a cookie press involves producing a non-rectangular solid with a bumpy upper surface corresponding to the grayscale values of an image: dark pixels = low points of the surface, light pixels = peaks. The image size controls the XY extent of the solid and the pixel values control the Z, with some known value (likely either black or white) acting as a mask around the perimeter. Given such a solid, you can then wrap a cutter blade and handle around the outline, much as I did for the Tux cutter.
OpenSCAD has a lightly documented surface() function that reads an ASCII text file consisting of an array of numeric values…
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