The fusion of photography and 3D printing has revolutionized the realm of creativity, opening doors to limitless possibilities for innovation. It is hard to find an industry or application that has not been positively influenced by the advent of 3D printing. Even the domain of 2D imagery, such as photography, has been impacted, enabling the conversion of objects into tangible forms.
The convergence of photography and 3D printing has found critical applications in various fields, including art, architecture, business and retail, history, medicine, and science. Whether you possess design skills or artistic talent, 3D printing allows you to transform your ideas into physical reality. Moreover, if you can capture a moment through a photograph, you can also bring it to life through 3D printing. The process involves converting 2D data into a 3D file and preparing it for production, paying careful attention to the details.
Photography and 3D Printing: A Perfect Combination
To achieve optimal results, follow these steps: Capture a clear picture of the desired object, ensuring it is centered. Take multiple pictures from various angles, maintaining consistent lighting. It is important to be cautious of potential challenges that may arise when creating a 3D model from a photo, such as issues with under- or over-exposure, as well as reflective areas. Utilizing a tripod can enhance stability and overall image quality.
Once you have captured the perfect photo, the next step is to choose the appropriate design software for converting it into a 3D model. Over the past decade, significant advancements have been made in 3D scanning technology, picture-based modeling, and file conversion, providing you with a multitude of options for generating 3D models.
Preparing Your 3D Model for Printing
When preparing your 3D model for printing, it is crucial to configure the basic layout, considering factors such as adhesion and support. Ensuring that the printable shapes can support their own weight is essential. Failure to scale the 3D prints properly may lead to difficulties in positioning them correctly or even manufacturing failures.
Uploading a 3D model that is above the basic requirements for 3D printability can save time. One of the benefits in using the Shapeways custom 3D printing service is an automated printability analysis. This process occurs immediately after you upload your 3D model to Shapeways, choosing from a compatible 3D file type such as:
- File types: DAE, OBJ, STL, X3D, X3DB, X3DV, WRL, 3MF, STP, STEP
- Full-color printing: OBJ, MTL, DAE, WRL, X3D, X3DB, X3DV
- Maximum file size for all types: 64 MB and/or 1 million
It is helpful to pay close attention to the design guidelines Shapeways offers for each material, whether making a 3D model from a photo with Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology or Selective Laser Sintering (SLS).
Best 3D Printing Materials and Technology
At Shapeways, we offer a wide range of advanced 3D printing materials and technologies suitable for creating 3D printed products based on photographs, models, objects, and even topographic maps.
Following are some of our most popular choices in 3D printing materials and technology:
- Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic] currently tops the list for 3D printing in terms of popularity and versatility. Reinforcing one of the greatest benefits in 3D printing with the ability to create complex geometries, Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic] is used with Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) for 3D printing detailed pieces.
Shapeways offers Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic] in standard white, but it can be dyed in eight different colors, and is available in Natural, Processed, and Premium finishes. Find out more in the design guidelineshere.
- Nylon 11 [PA11(SLS)] is 3D printed with SLS 3D printing technology. Many are surprised to learn that it is derived from castor beans, making it environmentally friendly and easy to recycle. Not only is PA11 a flexible material, but it is also known for durability, good tensile strength, and impact resistance with high elongation at break, meaning it will be less likely to break under stress.
This nylon material is biocompatible, making it suitable for models that will come in contact with skin, including much more complex parts like 3D printed knee braces or prosthetics. Shapeways offers PA11 in white, with a slightly rough surface.
- MJF Plastic PA12 is another popular 3D printing material, and similar to Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic]. Used with HP’s revolutionary Multi Jet Fusion technology—a powder-based method relying on inkjet technology—MJF PA12 is unique because it is printed at a lower layer thickness and provides higher resolution for intricate features, as well as overall uniformity. MJF PA12 offers flexibility in its thinner material form and is known for greater elasticity and less breakage, while offering strength and durability for thicker designs.
Offered in gray or black with a slightly grainy finish, MJF PA12 is available in natural, smooth, and a slightly glossy finish. Find out more in the design guidelineshere.
- High Definition Full Color is in demand by customers seeking more intense detail, and the option to choose between ten million colors. High Definition Full Color allows for good pre-visualization of models, exact color matches, along with incredible shading and contrast.
Amazing shading and contrast options are available for applying color and design details. Most designers choose High Definition Full Color when seeking fine detail with expanded gradients and textures. High Definition Full Color is available in standard and matte finish. Find out more about High Definition Full Color 3D design guidelines here.
It’s possible to turn nearly any image into a 3D print. With the ability to use free design software and upload your model to the Shapeways custom 3D printing service, the journey from conceptualizing to holding a tangible 3D print in your hand can be much faster–and more streamlined–than imagined.
Enjoy the benefits of this advanced technology and a wide range of materials from Shapeways for 3D printing your creations with accuracy, complex detail, and no minimum or limits in terms of mass customization or single part orders. Shapeways has worked with over 1 million customers in 160 countries to 3D print over 21 million parts! Read about case studies, find out more about Shapeways additive manufacturing solutions, and get instant quotes here.