From PhotoScan to Shapeways: 1/N – Using Blender as an intermediary

imageShapeways is one of several print services that offer full color prints – something I cannot afford myself.   However, they do not allow on-site scaling – you have to scale the model yourself.    There are also various cleanup steps that have to happen before shapeways will print your model.  For these I use blender.  (ref: shapeways page on blender editing)

Scaling, then Lighting, then Checking for Problems

Blender does not (by default) understand units of measurement; however during import, shapeways will ask what the unit is.  I go with mm; I want the model to be up to 50mm in size.

imageThe original is starting out at (Dimensions) 0.972 (assumed mm) as its largest dimension.  If I scale it up by 50, I get 31 x 48 x 40 instead.    Then, very important:  apply scale so that the XYZ coordinates are actually changed (some tools, like solidify, work before scaling – used for hollowing out an object).

imageimageSide note if you want to check textures: A this point, the model is a bit dark as the original light is now inside the model, and not quite bright enough.   I usually find and drag the Lamp gand drag it out into the open, and give it a distance for falloff of 3000 and more energy. 

And now the fun part!  Turn on the 3d printing tools (via extensions), and … don’t believe everything.  But do check for minimum wall thickness of 2mm.  and.. imageouch.  A lot of stuff.     Now, Shapeways may not complain about all of this – you are always welcome to upload.  In fact, I’m doing just that, to see what they will come back with.

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Shapeways

False End #1Do not export as .OBJ.   Shapeways does not process the .MTL and the .PNG file, and you get no color.  Instead, try .X3D.

If you open the .x3d with a large-text-file editor (like notepad++, or even in blender), you’ll find that it has a reference to a texture file with a different name: 

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Be aware of it – zip both the .png and the .x3d file into a .zip file for upload to shapeways.   

After the file uploads and gets processed (30 seconds?), you get this screen:

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And if I scroll all the way down, to the interesting stuff – Full Color Sandstone:

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First, $23.13 .. OUCH.    Second, Thin walls.  It’s a link.   Follow the link. 

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As you can see, this is not the sea of yellow that we saw earlier.   But, it also has this “Fix Thin Walls” button.

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Oh my, we gave Dan the pox.  Well, no big deal, lets print that anyway …

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But now we have lost color. No deal.  Back to fixing wall thickness in blender (and reducing the size of the model!)

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