ShapeJS

ShapeJS is an online tool for creating complicated 3D shapes that would be difficult to design manually. These shapes can then be 3D printed by Shapeways or downloaded as a 3D file.

The shapes are created with JavaScript programming code. The online tool provides a JavaScript editor and a 3D preview of the shape generated by the script. The tool also has some “presets” that show off various techniques for creating 3D designs.

shapejs

The principle behind the tool is very simple: take a 3D object, transform it in various ways and create a printable design. A basic example of this is to take a block and subtract another block from that to create a hollowed shape. The “Getting Started” page introduces the basic principles of writing JavaScript code to generate designs. The documentation explains all the functions you can use in your own scripts.

Besides the “presets”, there are lots of other scripts to try from the open source project the tool is based on.

I wanted to see if I could use the tool to generate a shape that I would then import into my Hemesh Colorizer tool and then print in color sandstone. I started with the Gyroid Pattern and then saved the model to a .x3db file. Hemesh Colorizer can only import STL files, so I had to convert the .x3db file to .stl using the free NetFabb Studio Basic tool. In Hemesh Colorizer, I used a simple rainbow color gradient to create the following colored version of the shape.

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To confirm that I could edit the file in Blender, I exported the shape from Hemesh Colorizer to VRML. Normally, I would then use the free MeshLab to convert it to a .3ds file since Blender cannot import colors from a VRML file. However, MeshLab complained that their were too many vertices for the 3DS format. So I had to export it as a Wavefront Object file instead. I then imported the .obj file into Blender and both the shape and colors were maintained, ready to be edited. I then exported the design to VRML and uploaded it to Shapeways. The design passed the initial tests for 3D printing, so it looks promising for using this process for sandstone printing.

The ShapeJS tool is currently in beta, but it looks like a promising way of creating very unique 3D designs with just a bit of programming knowledge.

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