Converting 2D files (JPEG, PSD, PNG) to 3D format for 3D printing: 2D – 3D file conversion
Although additive manufacturing has been endemic in the product development process for years, many manufacturers are just now beginning to experiment with 3D printer prototyping. In theory, this technology will allow for product developers to experiment with new and/or custom designs in a significantly more cost-effective way.
While this is an exciting new development in prototyping products, there are still multiple issues that need to be addressed when using 3D printers to prototype product surface designs. Let’s start with 2D – 3D file conversion.
Some of the issues:
- Decorative surface designs need to be created on CAD systems, which can inhibit the creative process and limit the pool of talented designers to choose from.
- If surface designs ARE created in 2D software (such as Photoshop or Illustrator), the files must then be converted to 3D software files in order to print on a 3D printer. 2D – 3D file conversion is not a simple, straightforward task.
- 2D – 3D file conversion often compromises the integrity of the design. The file must then be “cleaned up” and possibly adapted (changed from the original) using 3D design software.
- The ability to apply a surface design to a product using 3D design software is time-consuming. A CAD engineer must manipulate every piece of the surface design on screen so that it covers the product as best as possible.
- Once the prototype has been printed, then what? Unless the resulting prototype has been generated by designs that are tile-able and moldable, the process of putting the design into production will have to be done ‘the old-fashioned way.’ The printed prototype of tactile, textured surfaces is often not usable as a mold for developing a product with a textured surface.
2D – 3D File Conversion Service
By using our proprietary 2D – 3D file conversion method to convert PSD, PNG and JPEG files into a 3D file format, you are no longer limited in your ability to use Photoshop, Illustrator and other similar applications to generate 3D files that can be manipulated and used by a 3D printer.
Simply put, here’s what the process of ‘skinning’ your product with Surface Skins looks like when you use our 2D – 3D file conversion service:
2D – 3D file conversion service:
- The surface design can be created in any 2D application that generates a PSD, JPEG or PNG file.
- Using Lehrmitt Associates’ proprietary 2D – 3D file conversion service, the 2D file is then converted to an STL file that can be used with an appropriate 3D printer.
- The 3D surface design is ‘wrapped’ around the product using CAD. (Imagine snapping a bedsheet above a chair. First it billows, and then it falls onto the chair, hugging all of the nooks and crannies. That’s what the wrapping process looks like on screen. No more need for an engineer to manipulate each piece of the design.)
- The prototype—skin on!—is then printed on a 3D printer.
- The printed 3D surface design can then be used to create the mold.
Aren’t there a host of problems inherent in using printed 3D textures as a mold? And don’t surface designs pose their own unique set of challenges? What about the part where the design needs to be tile-able? And shouldn’t the molds created from the printed 3D textured surfaces be designed so that product can be cleanly removed from the mold or embossing roller?
Here is where our expertise comes in. For almost two decades, we’ve been creating attractive surface designs that translate into clean, continuous surfaces. And now, we have innovated a way to use 3D printing technology to translate 2D-created files into production-ready textured surfaces that meet with our high standards of design.
And we’re confident they’ll meet with yours, too.
By using our ‘Skins,’ you can add as many surface designs to your products as you wish. You can also customize your surface textures for a select group of customers. In other words, we can help you bring an artist’s finishing touch to your products, enabling your customers to connect to them in a more tactile—and personal—way.
3D Model Formats (listed in order of preference):
We can ‘skin’ your products using the 3D file of your product. Here are the 3D file formats we work with:
– Maya ASCII (.ma) = This is the native Maya format.
– OBJ = Output by all major packages.
– 3DS = Output by many 3D packages.
– STL = Only outputs triangles.