Thursday, December 18, 2014

SketchUp 8 to 3D Printing

December 18 Just down Ratchada Road, Bangkok Thailand, on the 4th floor of Fortune IT Mall is Gravitech's new Home of Maker makerspace. In addition to being an extensive DIY electronics store, Home of Maker also has electronic benches, a 3D printer, and a classroom for lectures, workshops, and classes.

The 3D printer is particularly interesting to us because as a small design studio we have many 3D models on hand and every once in a while we think how great it would be to print them out into actual objects. Now when we design something, we can hop on the MRT subway and in 10 minutes do just that ... the whole process taking half a day.

Our first project was a 3D stamp for our Progress Thailand project. It took 10 minutes to fully design in SketchUp and with the .stl plugin described here in this older tutorial, we exported it as an .stl file and brought it on a thumbdrive to Home of Maker. There, the friendly and informative staff helped import it into MakerBot's software before transfering it to the printer itself (a MakerBot Replicator 2) to be printed.

The resolution has three basic settings -- low, standard, high -- with this project being printed out using standard. It took 42 minutes in all and at the membership rate of 2 baht per minute, cost a total of 84 baht. Not too bad for conceptualizing, prototyping, and holding in your hand an idea in just one day!

In addition to Home of Maker, there is also Bangkok Maker Zoo near Ekkamai BTS station. The merits of 3D printing in design, education, and just plain fun will spread, and hopefully a growing community of makers will spread with it. With a 3D printer so close to Helios Labs, expect many more projects to come!

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