Wednesday 24 December 2014


Some weeks ago Luca Bezzi wrote an interesting post about conversion of a grey-scale image into a 3D printable .stl file, using Free Software (i.e. G.I.M.P. to convert the image and Blender, with the "Image as plane" addon). Here is a video-tutorial:

This method can be used for any image, but it is particulary useful to create physical model of terrains; in fact Luca Bezzi took inspiration from topography, as he explained in comments.
Anyway, today there is a faster and more precise method to do the same thing, as reported in; a web-app, called Terrain2STL, that can can convert a Google Map into a 3D printable file. The app has been created by ThatcherC, is Open Source and available on GitHub.
Terrain2STL is very easy to use. You just have to type on your browser; you will see a physical Google Map, and, on the right, some tools. Once you have defined the area you want to print, you can click on "Center to view" to set the center of the area (a red rectangle) on the central point of the screen. Then you can adjust the dimension of the area using the line called "Arc Second/Division". Once you have set the area, you just have to click on "Create .stl file".

A limit of this app is that you can not draw an area crossed by a grid line (in this case you will see an error message: "Something went wrong: you may be spanning a grid line"). Anyway, this problem can be easily solved dividing your area in 2 parts and saving them separately.
Opening the generated .stl file with NetFabb Basic it may happen that the danger symbol appear, because the 1st time the software may not be able to define the volume of the object; however, you can just click on the "automatic repair" button (the red cross) to easily solve the problem, and have a clear file.

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