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Using a WebGl compatible browser select the area of the world you'd most like a model of
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Zoom in until Terrainator's selection overlay tool becomes available
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Select the area of land you wish to create a model of
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The software will then generate a 3D model of your selection right in front of your very eyes
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Once your model is saved it will give you a rough estimate of price and a link to the Shapeways product
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The model is then available on Shapeways to simply purchase in a matter of minutes, and voila you've got a scaled model of your favourite piece of the world
Freelance web developer Dan Wilson, was working on the 3D printed personal toys, Makies, when he came up with the idea for his new product, The Terrainator. The Terrainator allows you to 3D print your favourite places using a combination of Google Maps and some self penned software to model then finally print through Shapeways.
Using WebGL software the service allows you to pick a selection of land that is special to you (currently only available in selected places but expansion throughout the world is happening by the minute), it then converts that selection into a 3D model right before your eyes, uploads your model to Shapeways and allows you to buy at a price depending on the range of terrain but come in somewhere around the £18($27, €20) mark.
Currently the models are only available in Shapeways’ Z-Corp printed “Sandstone” material but there are possibilities in the future of using other material including potentially full colour models with Mcor’s Iris printers.
We caught up with the ambitious creator of The Terrainator, Dan Wilson to see how he got to this genius idea and what is next:
The Terrainator is a marvelous name, was it a bit of a eureka moment when that name came to you?
Dan Wilson (DW): I've had a lot of trouble naming products in the past, but this one was easy! A eureka moment, as you say.
Tell us a little about your background, how did you get to this point?
DW: I actually started out as an academic, doing a Ph.D. in computational chemistry at the Royal Institution in London. I left academia in 2008 and co-found a startup (timetric.com). After we sold the company in 2011 I became a freelance web developer, and I've been doing that ever since.
Where did the idea behind Terrainator come from?
DW: It was the combination of visiting some beautiful places over the last few months, in particular Yosemite, and the fact that I spent most of 2012 working at MakieLab, where I was immersed in the world of 3D-printing. I figured that a lot of people would have a place in the world, which is special to them, whether it's because they grew up there, or perhaps even because it's a mountain they conquered. I wanted to make it easy for anyone to create scale models to evoke those memories.
You mention your experience with MakieLab, how did that help you with Terrainator?
DW: I knew nothing of 3D printing, or in fact 3D technologies in general, before I started working with MakieLab. I don't think I would've known how to start The Terrainator without the experience of working with them!
The Terrainator's user interface and integration with Shapeways works absolutely seamlessly, some of the best we've ever seen in fact, are you particularly proud of the website?
DW: Yes. To a certain extent, The Terrainator is a technology demonstration. I wanted to use WebGL, even though it doesn't work in every browser. But when it does work, you can create an experience, which is vastly superior to Flash-based alternatives. As far as Shapeways is concerned, I'm using their new RESTful API, which allows for much better integration with 3rd-party sites like Terrainator.
What of the models? Have you seen any turned out as of yet?
DW: I've been sending prototypes to Shapeways over the last couple of months, to get an idea of size, weight and cost. I'm very happy with the models as they are; I think they strike the right balance. Having said that, I'd like to be able to offer larger models to people who are prepared to pay that premium.
It seems to be something that could work really well with Mcor's full colour Iris printer, are there any plans to head in that direction?
DW: I agree. I was very impressed by their model of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh (my home town). Overlaying satellite imagery on my models is definitely something I'd like to offer in the future.
What is the next step for Terrainator? Will you be back?
DW: Ha. What I'd really love to do is build a Terrainator for Mars...