Strange Science: The How-Tos of 3D Printing

Spools of 3d printing filament in gold, purple, red, and gray, with small 3D printed balloon animals in front of eachWe recently learned that the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation had commissioned 3D printed replica statues of the famous Dred Scott statue in St. Louis (where co-editor Dawn is from). Part of the process of replicating this statue apparently involved an MSJ-adjacent, possibly mad engineer, climbing a ladder to take a series of photos of the original statue at a variety of angles. Learning about this made us wonder: how does one go about creating a replica of an existing thing and setting it up for 3D printing?

There’s plenty of information on the internet about getting started with 3D printing, including this extensive page about 3D modeling, which is how you’d create an STL (or standard triangle language) file, which tells the 3D printer how to print something. There’s also a page with a good list of mistakes that beginning 3D modelers might make.

Of course, the easier way to 3D print is to download files that someone else has already modeled, but if you want to print something the world has never seen, the above links will help you get started!

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