Creating An Awesome Terrain Map With A MakerBot
This upload to Thingiverse got some attention recently and a post on the Thingiverse Blog, and I thought it deserved a little explanation from its creator, LouFlemal (below). Also, a quick shout out to the newest derivative of this map from drandolph.
In June, a new Thingiverse user, Society for Printable Geography (!), popped up to share this design for a terrain map of the US. It’s based on freely available data from the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture. The version in their pictures is a metal pendant, which looks great.
Lou’s version, though, is made on a MakerBot Thing-O-Matic by extruding Brown ABS plastic, and I think we can all agree that it brings a whole new look and feel to the design. The layers are turned 90 degrees from each other — which Lou tells me is just a lucky accident with his layer height setting of 0.3 mm — allowing us to really experience the altitude changes. You can immediately see the coastal lands of Louisiana and Florida at sea level, and the way the Piedmont plateau stretches up a corridor through the mid-Atlantic states.
What strikes me as especially cool here is that the features that make Lou’s map fantastic are some of the features that people try to avoid sometimes with 3D printing. Our latest machine, The Replicator, is capable of outstanding resolution to the point that the layers of material are not really visible. But in this map, an intentionally low resolution makes all the difference. The fine lines on a single layer, Lou says, come from setting the temperature on his Mk8 extruder to 220, rather than the 240 he prefers to use with Brown ABS.
This definitely isn’t unique to the MakerBot as a medium. It’s like the way watercolor painting uses the blending of colors as an advantage, or how someone carving in wood might use the stroke marks of the carving tool to create intentional shapes and textures. It also reminds me of these salt and pepper shakers, which specifically use the little gaps between strings of plastic and the honeycomb infill pattern from Skeinforge.
How else could the features of the MakerBot process be used as an advantage?
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