Instructables
Picture of Google Earth to Makerbot
Hiya folks!

Ever wanted to 3D print a real life building?  It's actually pretty easy and this tutorial will summarize a few good forums and instructional sites on how to do this.  Here's the general workflow:

What you will need:
A computer to run Google Earth, Google Sketch-Up, and Replicator G.  All are free downloads.
Makerbot or similar 3D printer.  If you don't have one, fear not, you can always send your file to ShapewaysPonoko, or use one at TechShop.

Intro
I-Selecting and Downloading a Model: using Google Earth to find the building you want to print.
II-.skp to .stl (Sketch-Up to Rep. G): bringing the model into Sketch-Up to make some changes and exporting it as .stl file
III-Getting the File Ready for the Printer: Bringing the .stl file into Replicator G and exporting G-Code to Makerbot
Closing Thoughts

Step 1: Selecting and Downloading a Model

Picture of Selecting and Downloading a Model
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Selecting and Downloading a Model

1) Download the latest Google Earth.
 It may be possible to do this through the browser version in Google Maps, but I'd rather use something more stable.  Plus Earth is so cool, just so cool.

http://www.google.com/earth/index.html

2) Enable 3D buildings.

3) Find A Building.  
Anything that highlights blue when mouse-over can be found in 3D Warehouse, which is the repository of user-made files associated with Sketch-Up.  Click on a building and then the picture of the building to take you to the page in 3D Warehouse.  Not all buildings used in Earth are downloadable.  For this tutorial we chose Taipei 101.  

4) Download the Model (.skp).  Happens to be in this case, the Taipei 101 model used in Earth is not downloadable but a quick search of 3D Warehouse yielded some great models that are.  You can tell which ones are or are not by the blue "download model" drop down.  You can always use 3D Warehouse without first going through Earth, but that's no fun, usually.  Other models in other formats can be found on Thingiverse (great for .stl files) and on Autodesk's 123D.

**note: some buildings simply won't make good 3d prints because of all the terrain used to make the model.  Whatever is highlighted in blue on mouse-over will also make its way into the 3d model and may prove difficult or impossible to print.
 
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Really cool!
This is awesome for Printing Buildings. Thank you for laying it out.
Do you know if there is a way that you can print terrain models, they would be really useful in Geology Classes.
techshopzack (author)  eric.atkinson1 year ago
Not as of yet. There isn't a straightforward way to patch out elevation data directly to an STL or other 3d model. you *can* grab raw data from google under certain size limits for free and larger limits by paying. This raw data could in theory be used to create an STL but it does require a lot of programming knowledge.

A quicker way would be vectorize a topographical map into loops and extrude each closed loop as a solid body to a ratio of the height. I've seen this with a large format scanner and a laser cutter pretty beautifully. With 3d printing it would also look pretty cool with "steps" instead of a smooth curves...or you could surface mesh it. I use Autodesk Inventor for all that jazz.
So, in theory, you could put a 3D printer in space, and replicate the planet?? Ok, thats pretty darned awesome!!!!
quite awesome, have a look at my instructables for more on sketchup export, a new tutorial instructable for sketchup will be posted soon.
wow, I love the way google has integrated these two products, very cool things could be done with this! did you actually print this out?
techshopzack (author)  amandaghassaei1 year ago
Yes! Did yesterday, check out the updated last page.