A Maker Story

December 23, 2015 | By: Communications Staff

Yuletide is upon us and Studio 304's little MakerBots have been hard at work printing toys, ornaments, jewelry, T-Rex skulls, cows and cheese wedges. I even tried my hand* at making a custom gift: an ornament embedded with my son's handprint. (*Pun completely intended.)

I bet you have to be an expert at 3D design to make such a thing! you might be thinking. Au contraire! It turns out it's pretty easy to convert a 2D image into a 3D model via Adobe Photoshop (which we have available, for free, in Studio 304). Let me show you!  

Step 1: Acquire a handprint. And then scan it. 

Simply create a print of your child's hand (fingerpaint-on-construction paper works just fine) and scan it on Studio 304's flatbed scanner. 

Step 2: Isolate the handprint in Adobe Photoshop.

Open the handprint scan in Photoshop. Choose the "quick selection tool" (the paintbrush with the dotted circle), and click and drag with the mouse to select the background. Press the "delete" key on the keyboard to erase the background.

(Note: You'll need to make sure the background layer, which appears on the lower right of the screen, is "unlocked" in order to delete the background. If you see a padlock, click it!) 

Step 3: Extrude it. 

Go to 3D on the toolbar and select "New 3D Extrusion from Selected Layer." Make sure that your background layer is in fact selected (aka highlighted, as "Layer 0" is in the lower right of this picture).

Step 4: Mod the extrusion, if necessary. 

Voilà! You've created a 3D model! You may need to adjust it though. This model was originally four inches thick, so I changed the "extrusion depth" (in the properties menu) to 0.25 inches. 

Step 4: Export the 3D Layer

Is your 3D layer formatted to your liking? Excellent! It's time to export it!

Select "Export 3D Layer" from the 3D menu in the toolbar and save your design as an .stl (stereolithography) file. 

Step 5: Import your .stl file into Tinkercad. 

Sign into Tinkercad.com (or create an account if you don't already have one) and create a new design. Click on Import (second option in the right menu), find your file and ::drumroll:: import it.

And there it is!

Step 6: Turn your hand into a hole!

 Under the "geometric" section of the menu you'll find a cylinder. Click and drag it to your workplane and then adjust the size and depth as necessary. Then take that hand and turn it into a hole! Simply select it, and click on "hole" (rather than "color") in the inspector. Rotate it to lie flat on the cylinder and boom! You've got a hand-shaped hole in a cylinder! 

Step 7: Add text and a loop and… whatever else you want. 

You could stop right here with the hand-in-the-cylinder if you want to, but say you wanted to turn this thing into an ornament. Easy! Simply add a loop by clicking and dragging a "tube" to the top of your design. Use the "text" tool under "shape generators" (not pictured) to add text. Turn that into a hole too! Now you've got an ornament!

Step 8: Add "finishing touches." 

This design is pretty rockin' but there's one thing I'd like to fix: The edge of E's index finger failed to come through in the extrusion. So how do I fix this without starting over?

I know! I'll add a "round roof" hole to the design to round out the fingertip! Boom! 

Step 9: Download for 3D printing. 

Click on "Design" on the upper left and select "Download for 3D printing." Save your design as an .stl file as before. 

Step 10: Open in MakerBot and export the file for printing. 

This is the part we'll do for you! Once you provide us with your .stl file, we'll export it in a format compatible with one of our MakerBot Replicators. Simply provide your file, your preferred color, and your library card number and we'll add your print to our queue. (Psst, you don't even have to come in; you can email all of this info along with your file to studio304@sjcpl.org.)

Prints are $0.10 per gram. At 56 grams, this handprint cost $5.60. (Though really, a child's handprint is, as they say, priceless.) 

And that's it! Now you've got a replica of your little one's handprint to give to family and friends. 

Merry Holidays from Studio 304!

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