Making a 3D print of the interior of my house

imageA project I’ve always been kicking around (ever since I bought my first mobile home in 2000) is to create a scale model of the space I live in.

  • In 2000, I did it with graph paper and cut-out pieces of cardboard to represent furniture.
  • In 2007, I did it with Lego’s.  I wish I still had a picture of it, but they got lost somewhere in Photobucket.  land.  
  • In 2008, I used Sketchup to plan our Kitchen remodel.

Well, the urge came back up again – and this time, the other urge is to use a 3D printer to print out either the model, or the furniture which goes into the model, or both.


So I started researching.   Here are the nuggets I’ve learned:

  • Sweet Home 3D makes wonderful 3D models of the interiors of houses.
    • It only exports to OBJ format
    • The models it generates are non-manifold.
    • The furniture it places tend to be non-manifold.
  • Most 3D print software reads STL.   Or so I thought.
    • Turns out that’s still mostly true;  many of them convert to “GCODE”, but Makerbots use something else called “X3G”.
  • Meshlab can read in, and write out, many different formats, and can detect non-manifold edge problems.
    • It crashes pretty often.
    • It has code which can be used to fix meshes, but I don’t know to use it yet.
  • Netfabb Private can read in STL files and do some mesh repair work.
    • Some of the sweetHome3D outputs are too complicated for it.
    • Very juicy program. If I keep doing this, I might buy their pro version. 
    • Netfabb Cloud fixes even more stuff. 
  • If you’re looking for some frickin’ cool math, PolyMender is pretty neat:
    • Imagine filling a model with 2^N little squares.
    • Draw the model, filling in the squares
    • Just using the squares, recreate the model.
    • Its garunteed to be manifold.
    • The output was somewhat choppy for my purposes though; and the resulting files when given enough resolution (N=8,9) were too large for the 3D print software.
  • Sketchup is no longer part of Google, but still has a free editor.
    • To which you can add an extension (.rbz) to Import/Export to STL.
    • However, it can generate surfaces with problems.  Not necessarily Manifold problems.
    • But if you take care while editing your model, these problems are the types that can be automatically fixed by Netfabb.
  • Repetier-Host is a program used to control Solidoodle’s and several other 3D printers.
    • It will detect Manifold and intersection problems
    • It will run Slic3r to generate G-Code to drive a printer
    • You can view the resulting G-Code and get a feeling of overhangs, support material, infill, etc.
  • The List of 3D printers

The end result is, while I’ve got a pretty decent rendition of the house in Sweet Home 3D, it is far too difficult to convert it into a 3D print at this time.

Plan B.  Using Foam Core Board.

Check out this video:

Captions are Captives

Its about furniture building, but what I’m thinking is, I would use the technique to build the model, and then use 3D printing to create a framework so that I can assemble the different floors of the model into a house (think spacers, building a framework to nest other components, etc).

I would also use 3D printing to print out some of the more interesting furniture (though, for square things, I’d just use Origami).

The advantage here is I can then take pictures of textures and glue them appropriately – and given the speed and cost of 3D printing, its probably cheaper.

About that 3D Printer

I was all excited, and about buy myself a Solidoodle 2 – however, somebody had once mentioned the local hackerspace LVL1 to me.   I decided to go check them out.    Separate blog post on that.   Chances are, I’ll probably get a membership to them instead*, and use their printers.  And possibly some of their other stuff. 

*POINT: Don’t need a membership to use their resources.  They are very proud of that.  However, given that everybody likes 3D printing, the times when they are open to non-members = contention for use of the 3D printers, and they are 20 miles from home, so a membership will ease the access part of the equation.

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