Introduction: 3D Print an Image

About: Mechanical engineer, Colorado State University alumni, and member of Alamance Makers Guild.

If you have an image you'd like to convert into a 3D printed part, you may be surprised how easily it can be done with free software.

This instructable will hopefully answer a few questions I received from my Fallout Perk Pin instructable.

Step 1: Required Software

Free Software

Step 2: Find an Image

To keep in line with Fallout perks, which I am obviously a fan of, I found an image of the Black Widow perk. The first image is from the loading screen and should be avoided if possible. You'll want the image as simple as possible. The reflection and shading of a 3D object can be a nightmare.

The easiest solution is to use your trusty Google search to find a black and white image created by another denizen of the web. If not black and white, hopefully a simplified version like the second image.

Step 3: Load Inkscape

The first piece of free software we'll use is Inkscape. It's a great image and vector editing tool and can be downloaded here:

Download Inkscape

Once installed, start Inkscape and then Open your image file. When the prompt asks you to Embed or Link, I always select Embed. It makes things run a bit faster.

Step 4: Trace Bitmap

The secret sauce for this project is Trace Bitmap.

Be sure to have the image selected first, then go to Path > Trace Bitmap. . .

I then like to check Live Preview at the bottom of the window to watch what I'm doing.

I generally use Brightness Cutoff, but you can play with each method to get a better feel for what they specialize in. After selecting your method, move the values up and down until your image looks as you expect it to.

When you're finished, click OK, and then exit out of the Trace Bitmap Window. At first it will look like nothing happened but if you click and drag the image you will find they are directly on top of each other.

Step 5: Export DXF

Go to File > Save As. . .

Name your file and select .dxf as the file type and then click Save

(You could also save as .svg, but I've worked more with DXFs so I feel comfortable with them)

Step 6: Import to Fusion 360

Now we move onto Fusion 360.

After opening Fusion, go to Insert > Insert DXF

Follow the prompts in window to import the DXF from Inkscape

Step 7: Clean Up DXF

Now is the tedious part. Cleaning up the file.

First we can remove anything we don't want, like the lamp on the left, then we need to zoom in on trouble spots to make sure we have connected lines. There should be no islands or open sections.

To see the sketch entities better you can also change the Environment to Dark Sky. You can see how to do this in picture 3.

In the end everything should be filled with Yellow. This means your sketch is fully enclosed.

Step 8: Extrude

Now that we have closed and separated sections, it's as easy as Extrude.

You'll want to do two extrudes. One for the outer perimeter, and one shorter for the inside.

Tip: You can extrude the same sketch multiple times by making it visible in the model tree on the left.

Step 9: Print

You now have a 3D model from a picture!

Go forth and print.

Makerspace Contest 2017

Participated in the
Makerspace Contest 2017