The merging of two creative realms like photography and 3D printing opens up infinite possibilities for innovation. Most of us would be hard pressed to find an industry or application that has not been positively impacted by 3D printing. That includes 2D imagery like photography, allowing anyone to convert an object into tangible form.
Beyond preserving important moments, making a 3D model from photos can serve critical purposes in fields like:
- Business and retail
If you can make a design or create a drawing, you can 3D print it. And if you can take a picture–you can 3D print that too. From there, it’s all in the details from converting 2D data into a 3D file and preparing it for production.
Photography and 3D Printing are a Perfect Pair
For the best results, take a picture of the desired object and center it in the middle. Take numerous pictures from a variety of angles, using consistent lighting. Issues may arise in creating a 3D model from a photo if you are dealing with under- or over-exposure–or reflective areas. Using a tripod may be helpful for better stability..
From there, learning to make a 3D model from a photo lies in your choice of design software. Technology for 3D scanning, picture-based modeling, and converting files has advanced immensely in the past decade, leaving you with a range of options for generating 3D models.
Preparing Your 3D Model for 3D Printing
Configure the basic layout for your 3D model with adhesion and support, ensuring that printable shapes are able to support their own weight. If not scaled properly, 3D prints may be impossible to position correctly or fail during manufacturing.
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
Shapeways offers a variety of advanced 3D printing materials and technology for 3D printed products made from photographs, models, objects, or even 3D printed 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.