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  1. #1
    Guild Novice
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Michigan, USA

    Default 3D Printers and Terrain

    I found one topic on this, but it's from a couple years ago and decided to start a new one...

    I've been looking into 3D printing a lot lately, seeing as the machines are coming down in price so much they are affordable by the average person (albeit with a bit of saving). I read an article about a guy who was recreating (from scratch) the models to a lot of Games Workshops figurines - no doubt the legal implications of that are going to be a headache for the companies involved.

    More pertinent to this forum, though, it has some pretty awesome implications for mapmakers and modelers of terrain, as well as board game aficionados. I wonder if we'll see a part of the 3D forum given over to 3D printer files in the future?

    What I wouldn't give for the money to buy one of these things!

  2. #2
    Community Leader Gidde's Avatar
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    May 2009
    Michigan, USA


    That would be so awesome! We could be making globes

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  3. #3


    probably easier to do when you're older.. wait another decade for what comes next.

    not so much being a curmudgeon as experience.. printing devices *are* the first and foremost instrument of the devil. this has been said for centuries and one needed only own a few of the first generations of printers to know it.

    (then again, the very first ones may be manufactured without built-in obsolescence)

  4. #4
    Guild Expert Facebook Connected vorropohaiah's Avatar
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    Feb 2010
    35.921568 N,14.480068 E


    Quote Originally Posted by Gidde View Post
    That would be so awesome! We could be making globes
    I do like the sound of that!
    My W.I.P Elyden globe map thread - please check it out and let me know what you think
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  5. #5


    There are some 3d printed maps out there.*

    My school had a 3d printer and one of the teachers complained about the high cost of the print material. Unfortunately, it operates rather unreliably, stopping in the middle of print jobs, and generally not working. We got a larger model, but it wasn't installed before the summer break started, hopefully I'll get to try it out when school starts back up.
    3d printers require a 3d model to print. A standard file format is stl. I found a height map to stl converter on thingverse. It is a free, open source java app called heightmap2stl.jar
    The instructions are a bit nonexistent, but I managed to convert an elevation map exported from Dwarf Fortress to stl. The file ended up being 1.7GB and my laptop is unable to do anything with it.
    I tried again with a smaller map and got a more reasonable sized file, which I checked in Blender, nice little 3d image of the map. I don't know how to do anything in Blender, so I took a screen shot.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The original height map.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The stl in Blender.

    It obviously didn't work with the blue water.
    Last edited by Urist; 06-16-2012 at 01:06 AM. Reason: Added images

  6. #6
    Administrator Redrobes's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    We have had 3D globes being made on here in the past. This one I recall was very successful.

    We also had some posts about the pneumatic 3D terrain tables by Grumman or similar which look well cool.

    I can machine 3D terrain in 2D but I have only tried it once. It worked well but it takes ages and ages to do it with a fine cutter. Not sure what its like to make one with a 3D printer tho.

    Personally I think it would be possible and easier to harden up one of those exercise balls with resin and then use some kind of plaster, fiberglass, car body filler or epoxy putty on top to make a globe.

  7. #7


    Hehe, yeah but then some jack wagon would probably sit on your world and that would be the end of it.

    Now I want to create a 3d globe of my world....thanks a lot for that link, lol.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

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