Getting ready for summer camps for middle school kids and experimenting with activities for them. Thus, we've come to these.
Initial drawing done in inkscape and exported to .svg format then imported into a 3d modeling program (we tried several for comparison) and tweaked into a printable model.
Required programs: inkscape or some program that can export a vector image as a svg file and tinkercad or some program that can import svg files and export stl files.
The process: Create a new file in inkscape. Using the calligraphy brush tool draw a series of cursive letters or a simple design. You will want to make sure you do not have any ‘island’ paths. That is, you want to make sure that no part of the drawing is separate from the rest. Once you are happy with the drawing, select where you want to connect the keychain and draw a small circle. Save the file.
Open a web browser and navigate to tinkercad. Once there, log in or create a new account. Start a new design and select ‘import’ from the menu at right. Navigate to the svg we previously made, select it and import. You might want to consider importing it at a percentage of the size it was created in. The design from the svg will be displayed on the tinkercad workpane. It will be fairly flat. Using the scaling functions in tinkercad, extrude the flat face up to the desired thickness. Once you are happy with the model, click Design-->download for 3D printing-->.stl and save the file to your computer.
It is now ready to print! After printing, attach a jumper to the model and keyring to the jumper.
Variations: instead of drawing the design freehand, you can use the ‘trace bitmap’ function in inkscape to create a path from an image. You want this image to contain minimal colors and be connected.
To do this variation, select your image. Then, in a new inkscape document, click file-->open-->(select file)-->embedded-->ok to import the image into the file. Then, click image-->select path-->trace bitmap. This will bring up the ‘trace bitmap’ dialog box. You will want to experiment with the settings and click ‘update’ to find the best settings for your particular image. Be sure that you minimize the speckles and bump artifacts and that the individual components of the image are all connected. Once you are happy with the preview, select ok and exit the dialog. Save the file as a svg and proceed to the next steps.
Several of our students have used this method in conjunction with an online monogram maker to produce monogram keychains.