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Make a 3D print from a 2D drawing

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Using a few open source software tools and very little technical knowledge, it's possible to turn a 2D vector drawing into an extruded object for 3D printing.  I used this technique to make a bracelet.

Overview:
  1. Make an .svg file of the shape you want to extrude
  2. Convert it to OpenSCAD format using an Inkscape extension
  3. Use OpenSCAD to render and generate an .stl file
  4. Print the object
 
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Step 1: Make an .svg file of the shape you want to extrude

First get a shape that you want to extrude.  It needs to be in a vector graphics format, not bitmap (or raster) format.  Read up if you're not familiar with these terms.

To get a vector graphic you have three options:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Then save the file as .svg format.

Step 2: Convert the .svg to OpenSCAD format

Picture of Convert the .svg to OpenSCAD format
OpenSCAD is the software that will extrude the object for us.  However, we first need to convert the .svg to OpenSCAD format in Inkscape using the magic of this Thing.

Do this:
Install Inkscape.
Download the paths2openscad script at GitHub.
Move the script to your ~/.config/inkscape/extensions folder.
Open Inkscape.
File -> Open to open the .svg file.
Extensions -> Generate from Path -> Paths to OpenSCAD to generate the .scad file.
Save the file with the extension ".scad"

Now you're ready to render.
 
I was curious about how to do this, thank you.
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