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The best way to 3D Print a Map of Anyplace within the World


A couple of months in the past my pal Barney stated, “Are you able to 3D print Thousand Palms Canyon?”  

I knew what he meant: all of the hills and gulleys and panorama options we’re conversant in. “No,” I stated. “That’s unattainable.” However the concept saved bugging me. Why not? So I did what any of you’d do in the midst of a sleepless evening: I went on-line. Huh! Not unattainable, however possibly a bit of bit tough. Under are the step-by-step directions to create a 3D topographic map.

Creator’s Word: I’m utilizing Photoshop and 3DS Max on a PC to edit information and export them to my MakerBot Replicator 2, so this process could be completely different for you for those who’re utilizing different software program. I wager it will likely be related sufficient for this data to be helpful, although.

Replace (Might 2016): There was a bit of software program developed to help within the STL map producing device. The hyperlink for the free STL creator is right here: http://jthatch.com/Terrain2STL/. The unique article is under and produces the next decision STL, if that’s wanted. 

1. Obtain and set up Google Earth.

2. Obtain and set up MicroDEM – a free software obtainable via the U.S. Naval Academy web site.  Set up entails two steps – obtain and run the installer first, then substitute the executable with the newest model (obtainable as a separate obtain).

3. Obtain and set up the srtm4.1 plugin for Google Earth (Word: clicking on this hyperlink might robotically obtain the srtm4.1 plugin, relying in your browser).

 

A. Deciding on a topographic area in Google Earth


4. In Google Earth, the SRTM4.1 will seem underneath “My Locations” within the navigation on the left. Click on on the small “Elevation” sq., and a grid of containers ought to seem on the globe picture (Picture “A”);

5. Click on on one of many containers that features topography you wish to print;

B. Topographic knowledge – obtain choices


6. A window will seem (You would possibly have to scroll down). Click on on the hyperlink as in Picture “B”;

C. Topographic knowledge – the direct obtain url


7. The auto-download most likely gained’t work, so copy the url as instructed, and paste it into your browser, as proven in Picture “C.” This obtain might take a couple of minutes;

8. Unzip the downloaded archive. The one file you want is the .asc file. Put it someplace you could find it simply. Toss the remaining;

9. You could use  MicroDEM to interpret the altitude knowledge. (Don’t attempt utilizing any of the opposite “useful” instruments on the Web to open this type of file – a few of them are nasty viruses!);

10. In MicroDEM, go to File>Open>Open DEM and find your file;

D. Utilizing MicroDEM to preview your topographic knowledge


11. Right here’s the tough half: You most likely do not know what you’re taking a look at. No highways, no names of cities, no identifiers of any form! So that you’ll have to reference back-and-forth with another map to slim down the world you wish to print. When you determine which a part of the map you wish to zoom in on, use the “Subset & zoom” device (dotted border) from higher left to decrease proper to zoom in (Picture “D”);

12. Proper-click on the map and select “Legends/marginalia,” and ensure not one of the containers is chosen (remember to take away the gridlines);

E. Exporting topographic knowledge in greyscale


13. Proper-click once more, choose Show parameter>Elevation>Grey scale. That is the picture you’ll use in your 3D program to create a displacement map with a view to print your topographical 3D mannequin (Picture “E”);

14. Choose File>Save picture, and select no matter picture format works finest in your 3D program (I take advantage of jpeg);

F. Checking the picture measurement in Photoshop


15. Stop out of MicroDEM and open Photoshop or no matter image-editing program you utilize. Open the file you simply saved. Test to find out picture measurement, and jot it down. Mine occurred to be 860×650 pixels. Which means, once I create a airplane object in 3DS Max it will likely be, like, 8.6in x 6.5in or 860mm x 650mm or no matter items you like (Picture “F”). Shut the file;

Editor’s Word: If you do not have Photoshop there are many different choices for checking the size of a picture.  In Home windows Explorer single-clicking an image file will show the size within the data panel on the backside of the window.

G. Making a airplane in 3D Studio Max


16. Open your 3D program, create a airplane with related dimensions (You would possibly want to change width for size), and provides that airplane LOTS of segments, like, 430×325. I divided dimensions in half (Picture “G”);

H. Making a displacement map out of your grayscale elevation picture


17. In 3DS Max (or no matter you’re utilizing), choose the airplane, go to the Modifier Checklist, scroll all the way down to “Displace,” and add your grayscale map to create the terrain you need. Regulate “power” to magnify the peak of the mountains nevertheless you like. Downside is, a airplane has solely two dimensions, so you’ll be able to’t print it with a 3D printer regardless of what number of mountains it has (Picture “H”);

Editor’s Word: If you do not have entry to 3D Studio Max, worry not!  Utilizing Roy’s directions as a normal guideline we accomplished these steps with Blender (a free 3D enhancing device).  

J. Changing your airplane right into a 3D printable object


18. Convert the airplane to an Editable Poly, choose solely the outermost vertices (“choose border” in 3DS Max), and drag all of them down fairly far on the Z axis until they’re away from all the pieces else. Then “Make Planar” on “Z,” which ought to line up all of the vertices you chose to have equal “Z” values. With that border nonetheless chosen, click on on “Cap.” That completes a 3D printable object (Picture “J”);

19. Transfer the underside “cap” up close to to the bottom level of your topography, however not too shut, otherwise you danger breaking your printed map whenever you pry it off your construct floor on the finish of this course of;

20. Choose your topo map object and export it as a StereoLitho (STL) file;

Ok. Topographic map imported into MakerWare


21. Open MakerWare, MatterControl, or no matter you’re utilizing to drive your printer, and add your STL object, scaling it to suit your print mattress comfortably (Picture “Ok”);

L. The ultimate product – a 3D printed topographic map


22. Print it! It will take a very long time to print. My map took virtually 4 hours, however the element is wonderful. This printed object is barely about 4.75in x 3.5in (Picture “L”).

This will appear like a protracted, troublesome course of, however it’s truly fairly easy for those who observe each step to the letter. Imagine me: Will probably be loads simpler so that you can undergo these steps than it was for me to determine them out.

In case you discover any errors on this article, please level them out, and I’ll do my finest to repair them.

Good printing!

Roy Smith
The Smithbot

(Replace 2019)

At MatterHackers, we’re all the time searching for enjoyable and fascinating new initiatives that we will incorporate 3D printing and digital fabrication into. I had remembered seeing this older MatterHackers article by Roy Smith, however it was made clear that this system wouldn’t permit for the options that make areas recognizable: buildings! With that, I got down to devise and doc a course of.

 Methodology 1: 3D Map, no Topography

I used to be capable of finding a few completely different strategies, each free and paid for that labored okay, however one of the best I might discover for my functions was utilizing a collection of various packages to transform knowledge from Google Maps. I wished to start out off with one thing that was a recognizable panorama or held some significance for MatterHackers, so I’ll use New York Metropolis, particularly the world across the Empire State Constructing and a few portion of Downtown Los Angeles.

  1. Go to opensteetmap.org and discover the situation that you simply wish to 3D print. It will make the most of the info inside Google Maps to create 3D fashions of the world seen within the viewport.
  2. Click on Export to export a .osm file.
  3. Obtain and set up OSM2World from osm2world.org
  4. As soon as put in, open OSM2World and import the map.osm file you exported already. After a minute or so, it’s best to see a 3D mannequin of your metropolis.
  5. From OSM2World, you’ll be able to export an Obj file, which some slicers can’t work together with and can want conversion. At this level you wouldn’t wish to print it both; this mannequin will want fairly a little bit of cleanup.
  6. Open up Netfabb and import the Obj file. You could delete a number of the artifacts from the surroundings that couldn’t be translated correctly and make the completed mesh printable.
  7. Utilizing the airplane reduce sliders, take away the options that reach previous the a part of your metropolis that you simply wish to hold, just like the highways and jagged edges the place the map ends.
  8. Choose the town part that you simply wish to hold and open up the restore device
  9. Use the floor choice device to pick out the land under all of the buildings
  10. Click on the “Extrude Surfaces” device and ensure the “3D-Extrude” tab is chosen and “Clean” and “Thickening” choices are chosen as nicely.
  11. Change “Shift” to 100mm (constructive or adverse, whichever means extrudes it away from the buildings). Then click on apply.
  12. Now that the land has thickness, click on “Run Restore Script” and “Prolonged Restore.” Netfabb will try to merge all of the shells into one mannequin, fairly than one with many particular person components.
  13. In case you’re fortunate, you might have one shell and all the pieces appears to be like proper, nevertheless, odds are your mannequin wants a bit of extra repairing.
  14. Click on the left facet of the field subsequent to the Z Minimize Aircraft slider, this may cover something under the reduce airplane.
  15. Have a look at the mannequin from the underside and verify to see for those who can see any blue triangles. This might imply you might have buildings that aren’t hooked up but, or your constructing has overhangs on it that want eradicating.
  16. Use the “Choose Shells” device to pick out the principally completed mannequin, then right-click and conceal triangle. It will make it simpler to see the opposite shells that aren’t related
  17. Manually choose the underside surfaces of every of those shells, then extrude them down far sufficient to stay into the land.
  18. Do one other Prolonged Restore to merge it with the remainder of the mannequin and apply the restore if all of it appears to be like good (I decide to not take away the outdated half in case I would like to return for restore.
  19. Use the Z airplane reduce to chop off the underside of the land and make it utterly flat and for those who need, use the extruded surfaces device once more to thicken the bottom).

That covers Methodology 1. There’s loads that goes into it, however ultimately, you should have a reasonably detailed and actually enjoyable mannequin which you could print and modify as you need.

Methodology 2: 3D Map with Topography.

The information that’s gathered by Google Maps doesn’t embody any kind of topographical knowledge. It is aware of that there are buildings, the place they’re, the place the roads are, what number of lanes, however San Francisco’s panorama (a notoriously hilly metropolis) would look precisely the identical as Houston (one of many flattest cities within the US). Conveniently, there’s an internet site that may convert the info from Google Maps, NASA, and the US Geological Survey to create a way more correct cityscape with included topography.

  1. Go to CADmapper.com
  2. Zoom out and in, drag the corners of the choice field, and pan the viewport to vary your collection of map you’d prefer to obtain. The free model limits you to 1 sq. kilometer, however you’ll be able to choose between 1 and 100 sq. kilometers for $6 to $65.
  3. Export utilizing SketchUp 2015+, choose to incorporate 3D Buildings, and set false peak to twenty meters, verify the field for Topography, and Highway Geometry is as much as you (mesh surfaces will mean you can extrude the roads however to make them printable will take much more work to make them prepared for that).
  4. Click on “Create File” and CadMapper will start merging all the info it must create a workable 3D mannequin.
  5. When it’s accomplished, obtain the completed file and open it up utilizing SketchUp 2015 or newer.
  6. Underneath the “Window>Default Tray” Toolbar, be certain that “Layers” is chosen so you’ll be able to see and choose the layers inside the map.
  7. You may select to maintain all of the layers, which would require extra cleanup and tuning to get proper, or you’ll be able to hold the primary ones to get it printable. Buildings and Topography are the necessary ones.
  8. When you’ve deleted the layers you don’t need, set up the STL Import & Export Extension, and export the map as an STL.
  9. With the exported STL, you’ll be able to then import this into NetFabb and start modifying the mesh utilizing the Restore device.
  10. Use the floor choice device to pick out the land under all of the buildings
  11. Click on the “Extrude Surfaces” device and ensure the “3D-Extrude” tab is chosen and “Clean” and “Thickening” choices are chosen as nicely.
  12. Change “Shift” to 100mm (constructive or adverse, whichever means extrudes it away from the buildings). Then click on apply.
  13. At this level, for those who selected to maintain the roads, you’ll have to undergo by hand and restore every of them, give them thickness, and ensure there aren’t overlapping triangles; a easy Prolonged Restore isn’t going to chop it right here.
  14. Now that the land has thickness, click on “Run Restore Script” and “Prolonged Restore.” Netfabb will try to merge all of the shells into one mannequin, fairly than one with many particular person components.
  15. In case you’re fortunate, you might have one shell and all the pieces appears to be like proper, nevertheless odds are your mannequin wants a bit of extra repairing.
  16. Click on the left facet of the field subsequent to the Z Minimize Aircraft slider, this may cover something under the reduce airplane.
  17. Have a look at the mannequin from the underside and verify to see for those who can see any blue triangles. This might imply you might have buildings that aren’t hooked up but, or your constructing has overhangs on it that want eradicating.
  18. Do one other Prolonged Restore to merge it with the remainder of the mannequin and apply the restore if all of it appears to be like good (I decide to not take away the outdated half in case I would like to return for restore.
  19. Use the Z airplane reduce to chop off the underside of the land and make it utterly flat and for those who need, use the extruded surfaces device once more to thicken the bottom).

Methodology 2 is fairly easy and may give some fascinating depths to your topographical maps and makes for excellent HexTiles of a few of our favourite areas!

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