Introduction: LOVE Pendant - From Sketchup to Jewelry

About: With a diverse history in natural and computer science, industrial manufacturing, freelancing and entrepreneurship, I am now exploring opportunities in artisanal crafts, primarily by computer-assisted artistic…
In this article, I will show you how to create a pendant or charm from a Sketchup 3D model. The pendant can be manufactured in Sterling silver or one of several plastics.

There are thousands of such 3D models on the Google warehouse. For the purpose of this instructable, we will start from Robert Indiana's  world-famous LOVE sculpture and convert it into a unique piece of jewelry.

In the following steps, I will will show you how to use free 3D software to create a digital model of the pendant and send the file to a 3D printing service provider who will make a real Sterling silver object from it. 

As a low-cost alternative, you may also choose to have the pendant 3D-printed in one of several plastic materials. For a small contribution to my funding campain, you can also get the pendant directly from here.

See my other instructable:

Step 1: Prerequisites

If not already done, download and install
  • Google Sketchup
  • Meshlab
  • Netfabb Studio
The download locations are available from my other instructable .

As an addition to the base software, and to facilitate creation of the loop for hanging the pendant, you will also need to download and install the
  • Torus Plugin for Sketchup
as described on .

Step 2: 3D Design - Adjust the Model

In this step, you will begin to work in Google Sketchup. You will adjust the pre-existing model and make it suitable as a piece of jewelry. The model is much too big for a pendant, as you can see from the picture of a woman next to it. Don't worry, this will be corrected at a later stage.
  • Click the black arrow on the toolbar, click the woman's picture and press [Delete] to remove it.
The LOVE model is also oddly oriented in space which makes it difficult to manipulate the 3D model. Subsequent steps will become a lot easier when you first re-orient the model perpendicular to the x-y-z axes.
  1. Click the model
  2. Click Edit - Group - Explode. This will remove the oddly oriented blue box around the model.
  3. Click Camera - Standard Views - Top. You are now viewing the model from the top.
  4. Click the Rotate Tool on the toolbar.
  5. Move the mouse pointer to the outer edge of the letter L. Make sure it snaps on the edge and click.
  6. Move the mouse pointer along the edge until it is outside of the model. Make sure the tooltip reads "Parallel to edge" and click.
  7. Move the mouse pointer in a counter-clockwise movement around the model until the model snaps on the green axis, the angle indicator in the lower right corner reads "~141.5". Click to lock the model's position.
The model is now precisely oriented along the x-y-z axes.
  • Click Camera-Standard View - Iso followed by Edit - Make Group. You will see that the blue box is now exactly oriented along the model edges and surface.
But it is still too thick for a pendant. Let's make it thinner.
  1. Click Tools - Scale
  2. Click the green square in the middle of the model front 
  3. Move the mouse until the scale indicator in the lower right corner reads 0.25, then click to lock the scale factor.

Step 3: 3D Design - Create the Loop

In this step, you will add the loop for the necklace chain. While still in Sketchup:
  1. Click the rectangle on the toolbar
  2. Move the mouse to a point roughly in the middle of the upper edge of the letter L. Click and hold the mouse and draw a n approximate square on that surface. The Dimension indicator in the lower right corner should approximately read 6", 4.8". Release the mouse.
  3. Click the Push/Pull tool on the toolbar.
  4. Click the previously created rectangle and move the mouse to extrude the rectangle into a bar which hits the letter O. Click again to lock the bar.
Now you have a bar across the model where you can connect the loop to.
  1.  Click Draw - Torus and enter the following into the dialog:
    • Inner Radius: 14.00"
    • Outer Radius: 20.00"
  2. Click OK. The newly created torus will follow the mouse movements.
  3. Move the mouse to the upper right edge of the letter E and click to lock the torus there.
This may seem an odd position for the loop, but it actually facilitates precise rotation of the object into its final orientation:
  • Click the Rotate tool on the toolbar and re-orient the object. Working with the rotate tool may need a little practice and you will need several rounds to understand how the tool works. Rotation by exactly 90 degrees is easiest when you first lock the rotate tool to one of the three perpendicular edges of the letter E. You should also pay attention to the tooltips which appear when you move the mouse.
  • When satisfied with the orientation, click the Move tool on the toolbar and move the object to the middle of the previously created bar. This again may need a little practice to understand the workings of the move tool.
Your model is now complete. Save the file. For processing at a 3D printing provider. you also need to export the model into a different format:
  • Click File - Export and save the file in the "COLLADA / .DAE" format. You may now close Sketchup.

Step 4: 3D Print Preparation

In this step, you will convert the Google Sketchup file into the proper file format and size for printing.
  • Open Meshlab, click File - Import Mesh  and open the previously saved .DAE file.
  • Click Export Mesh As ... and resave the file in the "Alias Wavefront Object (*.obj)" format. You may now close Meshlab.
  • Open Netfabb Studio, click Project - Open and open the previously saved .OBJ file.
  • The file is not ready for printing, yet. Click the red cross on the toolbar, followed by [Automatic Repair], followed by [Apply Repair].
The last step is to scale the model to the proper size for a pendant. A little less than 1" should be fine:
  • Click Part - Scale and enter the factor to scale the model to about 0.85". The exact value may vary by the regional settings on your computer, but the factor is basically equal to 0.85 / length as displayed in the Netfabb program.
  • Click Part - Export part - as STL. Another repair dialog may come up. Click [Repair] again, followed by [Export]. You may now close Netfabb Studio.
You now have a 3D model in the STL file format, ready to be submitted to a 3D printing service provider.

Step 5: Submit to 3D Printing Service

The STL file from the previous step can now be uploaded to a 3D printing provider. I am currently aware of these providers of metal printing: The upload procedures vary slightly by provider, but should be easy enough to handle.

Both providers offer silver printing in addition to the more popular, low-cost plastic printing in various qualities and colors.

If you want to save yourself the work, you can also get the pendant directly from here.
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