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As a follow up to my 3D Printed Glasses, I wanted to write an Instructable on how just about anyone can jump in and start making 3D models and 3D printed objects. Having discovered Minecraft as a 3D printing tool, I began on an adventure with my department at San Jose State University to create objects that were socially sculpted. This lead me to what I call Social 3D Printing in Minecraft.

If you need more info on where to get access to the tools I used, check out TechShop.ws. I made it at TechShop.

Step 1: Background

Let us start with the theoretical idea behind Social 3D Printing in Minecraft. Minecraft is a sandbox style building game. In the game, you obtain blocks that you can use to create objects. These objects can range from simple houses to elaborate collaborations to recreations of the Lord of the Rings world. What is unique about the environment, is just about anyone can easily gain the skills that are required to build their dreams. If you have played with legos, think of Minecraft as a virtual lego world. Because of its accessibility, people of all ages can take part in the environment. Children, teenagers, adults, parents, and grandparents alike can create objects together in this virtual environment.

This is achieved by setting up Minecraft as a multiplayer server. Once this is up and running, everyone can come together to build objects as a community. These social sculptures can than be rendered through CNC processes. I favor 3D printing.

*If you have questions about setting up your own Minecraft server, here is a good guide to take a look at: Setting up a Server.
*Learn to play Minecraft here: Play Minecraft

Step 2: Exporting - Step 1

Now for the technical details. Once you create an object in your Minecraft world, you need the free software, Mineways, that allows you to export the data. Once you have downloaded and installed Mineways on either your PC or Mac, you can launch the program and navigate to your Minecraft world data.

*If you are running Mineways on a Mac running 10.7 and above, you will need to download and install Quartz.

Step 3: Exporting - Step 2

Start by selecting

PC:
File > Open World > (Name of Your World Here)


Mac:
File > Open World > Custom World...

You need to navigate to your Minecraft folder. This is located in your User folder under Library > Application Support > minecaft > saves

You will then see the folder with the names of the world you have created. Click to open one of them and select the level.dat file to open your world.

Step 4: Exporting - Step 3

Upon opening the file, you will have a birds eye view of your world. You can zoom in and out as well as pan to find the object you wish to export. Holding down the right mouse button on your computer, you can drag a pink box around the data you wish to export. Once selected, go to File > Export for 3D Printing.

*If it asks you to locate the terrain.png, download one from the web. Use File > Select terrain.png to navigate to where you saved the file.

Step 5: Exporting - Step 4

Select a location for your data to be exported to, and select the Files of type to be one of the STL extensions. There are many advanced settings on the next page that can be tweaked. I find that in most cases the default settings are sufficient. Congratulations, you have exported the data from your Minecraft world.

Step 6: 3D Printing

The local Techshop that I attend has both the Afinia 3D Printer and a Makerbot. They provide classes on how to use both of these tools. Launch the 3D printing software of the 3D printer of your choice and import the model from the STL that you exported. You may have to scale up the model to the size of your choice. Once completed, print your object.

Step 7: Conclusion

There you have it. An object that you created in Minecraft either individually or socially rendered in the real world with 3D Printing. I have participated in some high profile, international collaborations in Minecraft. As an artist that is interested in people and technology, being able to gather a community to create collaborative 3D structures is amazing.

So what are you waiting for! Get out there and start creating objects with your friends, family members, or perhaps people around the world. We can share ideas and create cross cultural sculptures.

Want to see some of the work I have worked on? Check out my portfolio.
<p>Yes, social building is great, that's how we built our Community Station (pictured on the left) for trains departing from spawn.</p>
<p>That looks AMAZING! How did you color the blocks?</p>
<p>COOOL!!!</p>
<p>I might expand on your tutorial in another. There's a few additional programs that are beneficial to this process. Regardless, good tutorial!</p>
<p>Cool prints photographed in a cool way, Reagan. Please do consider uploading them to Flickr and tossing them in the Mineways pool, https://www.flickr.com/groups/mineways/pool/</p>
Early today I was wishing this exist
This is AWESOME! I love playing Minecraft and have always wanted to bring them into the real world. I know there are some companies that will print models from your Minecraft world, but I don't want to fork out a bunch of money. Thank you so much!
this is cool, is it possible to change the resolution that each block accounts for? for instance could one minecraft block be 1 inch in one model and be a half inch in another model?
Yes. On step 5, in the photo of the advance features menu for exporting the models from Mineways, you can select the the mm height of each block. So you can adjust the size for each model. Hope that helps.
Great idea!
Thank you :)

About This Instructable

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Bio: My name is Michael Amundsen, and I have a Bachelors of Fine Art in Digital Media Arts and a minor in Cultural Anthropology, from the ... More »
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