Technology Services Nick Nack – A 3D Project

Technology Services Nick Nack – A 3D Project

Since we put our MakerBot Replicator 2 in our Oathout Technology Center, I’ve been itching to do a 3D project that I could repurpose for a number of different campus scenarios – teaching, design considerations, fit-n-finish, etc.

The project I decided upon was to take our Technology Services logo (seen below) in 2D, sketch it up, and make it into a 3D object thingy (wall hanging, coaster, knick knack, whatevs).

Technology Services Logo

Admittedly, I’m not the “go to” Photoshop / Design guy. I know enough to be able to do enough – given enough monkeys banging on keyboards and the lifetime of the universe to do it in.

That said, I ain’t skeered. So I jumped in.

I downloaded a copy of Sketch Up Pro, because I knew that that was what my colleagues on campus were using to design stuff. So far, so good.

Next, I knew at some point that I would be needing to convert my Sketch Up file from .skp format to .stl, for use in our printer. So, I googled around, and found this plug in and installed it into Sketch Up. Ok… what next?

I then opened a new project in Sketch Up. I won’t go into all the boring details – but in short order, I:

  • Imported an image of the Technology Services Logo
  • I traced all of the major sections of the logo
  • I colored my sections to match the color scheme of my original logo
  • I pulled the 2D design “up” to have height (about a half inch), and thus, 3D.
  • I sized the nick-nack to be about six inches across – about as big as our 3D printer build plate would allow.

I then sat back and admired my work:

Screenshot 2014-02-13 11.24.39
That’s a fine looking nick nack you’ve designed there.

Hold on, Hoss – you can’t go printing that as it is. Our printer will only print one color at a time (“Nice monochromatic puck you have there, Sport”). How can we make this work, Tim Gunn?

Ok. I obviously need to decompose like colored sections, into separate files, so I can build those all at once.

And so, I copied each section into its own separate sketchup space (below).

Screenshot 2014-02-13 11.23.00
The Black Pieces
The Orange Piece
The Orange Piece
The White Pieces
The White Pieces

We are almost there. But before going on, a short aside.

I built my original design in one file originally, to insure that my final build would have a tight fit-n-finish (i.e., all the pieces would fit together without falling apart). That’s the theory, anyways.

Ok. Moving on.

Now that I have three sets of pieces, I need to go into each file, and export the design from its native skp format to stl format, that I will later import into our MakerWare design package, in order to ready our design(s) to be printed. This is where that extension I mentioned above will be used.

Export to STL
Export to STL

I should note that when saving, you should save in mm (millimeters) not inches – otherwise, your design will look tee-tiny.

Elapsed time to design and get ready to build: three hours. Without using Sketch Up before. So, really. You can do this.

Once you save all of your files to STL, you’re ready to layout your design in your printer software (in our case, MakerWare – your mileage may vary), and see how long this sucker will take to print.

I’ll update our build process later. Watch this space!


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