Tuesday, December 2, 2014

3D Printing Typography

When we think of printing typography our thoughts naturally wander to posters, signs, billboards, newspapers and other manifestations of words in print. With the advent of 3D printing we can breathe a third dimension into this historically flat form of communication. With 3D typography we can make things like cake toppers, name plates, word sculptures and more!

While there are many ways to make 3D printable type this is an easy 10 step method using a basic vector program to layout our design and a browser-based 3D modeling program to make it 3D.

- Adobe Illustrator (CS5 or later)
- TinkerCAD Account

- 3D Printer or 3D Printer Service Bureau (Shapeways, Sculpteo, etc..)

3D Printable Type in 10 Easy Steps

1. Open up Adobe Illustrator and create a new document.

2. Using the Type Tool (the one with the little T) type out your message and pick your fonts.

3. Right click on the letters you just typed out and from the pop up menu choose "Create Outlines". After this step you wont be able change your font choice because the "Create Outlines" functions this turns the words you just typed out into vector shapes rather than type tool addressable letters.

4. Make all of the letters overlap. You can do this by moving the whole letter to overlap with another or using the newly created points on the letter outlines we can drag just certain pieces over.

5. Making sure all of your letters are overlapping in at least one spot use the Shape Builder Tool to combine all of the letters into one word shape.

6. Save your file as an .SVG

7. Open a new TinkerCAD Project.

8. Navigate to the "Import" menu on the right side of the TinkerCAD workspace and import the .SVG file you just created.

9. When TinkerCAD finishes importing your .SVG file scale it to the appropriate size and under the "File" menu download the .STL for 3D printing.

10. Send your .STL to your 3D Printer and enjoy your 3D printed type!