You can now print Ancestor and Descendant Fan charts on 3D printers. Charting Companion includes an option to output Ancestor and Descendant Fan charts as “STL” files, which can be fed to 3D printers for printing as physical objects.
3D Printing is done with STL files. STL is “STereo Lithography”.
3D printers range in size and price from small, desk-top units, to large industrial machines. Schools and libraries are now offering 3D printing facilities. 3Dhubs.com is a network of 3D print shops all over the World where you can email your 3D print file, and receive a fabricated piece in a few days.
How 3D Printing works
3D printers use melted plastic or fused resin to create objects in every shape imaginable. 3D printers are becoming popular as the technology improves and prices come down.
STL files contain a collection of triangles, and is the file format used for 3D printing. Charting Companion creates an STL file, which is fed to a “Slicer” program, which converts it to a “G-code” file for input to a 3D printer.
All you need is the STL file. Your local 3D Print Shop will take it from there and perform all the necessary steps to complete the 3D printing.
If you have a 3D printer, it will come with the software needed to convert the STL file.
3D printing is still in its infancy. Low-cost desktop units have a low resolution and small base plate size. Finer resolution and larger pieces require high-end, industrial-grade machines. 3D printers aimed at the consumer market are limited to three-generation Fan charts. A five-generation Fan chart is best done at 8″ diameter.
It is preferable to use a 3D Printer that has a heated bed. Otherwise, the large flat base will have a tendency to curl at the edges because they cool faster than the center.
Creating an STL file
To create a chart for 3D Printing, in Charting Companion, click on the menu “3D Printing”, choose the chart type (Ancestor Fan or Descendant Fan) and click “Preview”.
Click on the Printer icon, then “3D Print”. Choose “STL” as the file type, and click “Save”.
How to preview your 3D chart
You can preview an STL file with one of the following programs:
- Netfabb (http://www.netfabb.com/downloadcenter.php?basic=1)
- MeshLab (http://meshlab.sourceforge.net/)
- Slic3r (http://slic3r.org/download)
- STLView (http://www.freestlview.com/download.html)
- ABViewer (http://3d-viewers.com/stl-viewer.html)
- http://www.viewstl.com/ (display STL files on-line)
Where to get your 3D chart printed
Find a local 3D Print shop, or look for a shop on the 3DHubs network.
(Please report any broken links. The Web is evanescent.)
“Spirits, which by mine art
I have from their confines called to enact” (The Tempest)