Converting flat 2D files to 3D printable files

Ever wonder if there was a way to 3D print a flat clipart image? Well, there is. Thanks to the extra credit effort of one of our graduate students, you too can convert a vector based clip art file (.svg) into a 3D printable file (.stl). Follow these simple steps using free software (Gimp, Inkscape, and Tinkercad)*:

Step 1: Find or create a clean clip art style one color logo.

Step 2: Open image in GIMP or Microsoft Paint, which are both free, raster-based image editing software programs.

Step 3: Go to the “file” menu. choose “export.”  Make sure the file name ends in .png and select PNG file format from drop down menu. Select “save.”

Step 4: Open file in Inkscape, which is a free, open-source vector image software program.

Step 5: In Inkscape select the portion of the image desired.  Go to “path” menu. select “trace bitmap.”

Step 6: Next “check” the box at “remove background.”  Select “Ok.”

Step 7: Go to the “File” menu.  Select “Save as.”  Go to the “Save as type” drop down menu and select “Plain SVG.”  Select “Save.”

Step 8: In TInkercad or Autodesk 123D Design go to the file menu and select “import”.  select your SVG file and select “Open.”

Step 9: From there, you can further manipulate your 3D object.

Here is our famous Texas State University bobcat logo redesigned as a 3D printable pendant: texas_state_university_bobcat_v2-3d-model

*If you don’t have the free software outlined in this tutorial, you can follow this link to accomplish the same effect using Photoshop and Illustrator: