At the recent SM 3D conference I was sitting next to a man who works for the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum and research complex in Washington D.C. He discussed their new theories about using 3D technology in education.
The Smithsonian galleries exhibit less than 1% of its collections at any given time. But with the use of 3D technology, these collections can become more accessible, allowing the Smithsonian to use the internet to share 3D data that can be printed and viewed elsewhere. Now students can not only view the museum’s collections virtually, but they can also utilize the 3D viewing capability to go into more detail. They can use datasets to create their own prints, mastering mathematical and technological skills along the way. 3D printing is a major motivational tool for teens, and can enhance classroom learning in many ways. The Smithsonian has already released 3D models of some items from its collection, which can be downloaded from their website.
After the conference I met with a friend of mine, an avid 3D printing hobbyist. As I expected, he leapt at the chance to try out his 3D printer on pieces from the Smithsonian collections. Unfortunately, his Ultimaker Cura software couldn’t recognize a model file.
The problem with the Smithsonian’s models is that they are huge, ranging from 5 to 15 million triangles; not many 3D printing software programs could handle them. Most consumer desktop 3D printers have a .1 mm resolution and a printable area of 5x5x5”, and cannot process models larger than 1 million triangles. If you want to 3D print models using online 3D printing services, model size can be a problem, too. Most of these services don’t allow uploads bigger than 500K triangles.
This problem can be easily remedied. Vizup software can reduce the model’s polygon count up to 100 times, while keeping the visual quality. The 3D model of Abraham Lincoln’s life mask was greatly reduced using Vizup Desktop, and then successfully printed-take a look!
Lincoln life mask 3D model – original size
Lincoln life mask 3D model – reduced 10 times
If you are 3D junkie and want to print a 3D model which is too detailed for your 3D printer’s resolution, Vizup can surely help you, too. Use our Vizup Desktop, or send us your model file to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll reduce it for $10-25/model. Happy 3D printing!
Credits: many thanks to Boris Rabinovich who influenced this post and provided photos.