Step 1: Make an .svg File of the Shape You Want to Extrude
To get a vector graphic you have three options:
- Download it. You could use Google Advanced Image Search and limit your search to .svg files, a common vector graphics format on the web. You want to make sure you have permission before you use anyone else's drawings, though.
- Draw it yourself. Use Inkscape, Illustrator, CorelDRAW, or any of the many other vector graphics applications. Drawing vector graphics is its own topic worthy of many instructables.
- Make a digital trace. If you do have a raster image (bitmap), then you can convert it to a vector graphic with Illustrator's live trace or Inkscape's trace features, which are fun to play with. Keep in mind that these features are not magic, and you'll have to fiddle around a lot to get the graphic right.
Step 2: Convert the .svg to OpenSCAD Format
Download the paths2openscad script at GitHub.
Move the script to your ~/.config/inkscape/extensions folder.
Now you're ready to render.
Step 3: Render and Generate an .stl File
Getting down to business in OpenSCAD:
Design -> Compile and Render to build the object. This might take a while, depending on how complex your object is.
Once the rendering is complete, Design -> Export to STL to export the file for printing.
The .stl file should be ready to print! However, if you first want a better look at your rendered object, you could open it up in SketchUp.
Step 4: Print Your Object
If you don't have a 3D printer, have Shapeways print it for you, build a printer, buy one, or better yet, join your local hacker/makerspace or TechShop and use theirs.
dnewman for developing and sharing the OpenSCAD converter
heilis for playtesting the bracelet
Ace Monster Toys for being an awesome place