Another company has come out with a solution for making 3D prints from Google Earth. This time the solution is actually based on SketchUp 3D models. The company is called Sweet Onion Creations, and they describe how to click on a 3D model seen in Google Earth (or any found in the Google 3D Warehouse) and using their “3D printing” service get back an actual physical model. Here’s a video they’ve made showing how it works:
Here is how they describe the process:
The process starts with a very fine white powder that resembles cornstarch in consistency. The toxicity is so low that it is almost food-grade in quality. On the computer, a house or hillside is sliced up digitally and made into an outline or “pancake.” From here it is fed into the machine and each outline of that pancake traced out using a small dispenser on an “x” and “y” axis. A sugar and water binder is applied to temporarily glue each layer together.
It’s commonly referred to as an “additive process”. The best part is it generates the least waste (97% is recycled back through) which means less cost for our clients and easier on the environment.
However, the success of the architecture model hinges on a perfect “water tight” Computer Aided Design (CAD) file called a Stereolithography or STL for short. Preparing this file is typically the most tedious and difficult task of the entire process of going from 2D drawings on the computer to the 3D model in the hand. If not carefully produced, a corrupt CAD file causes the model to “blow up” in the machine and the results are fragments of building materials that simply crumble upon removal.
There was another company that offered this kind of service three years ago, which actually let you grab even models seen in Google Earth which are not in the 3D Warehouse. But, I’m not sure that service still exists.
via Google Blogoscoped.