Sightline Maps Produces Instant 3D Printable Terrains

A 3D model generated by Sightline Maps

A 3D model generated by Sightline Maps

A new project hopes to provide an ability for educators to create any type of 3D contour maps. 

Sightline Maps launched their crowdfunding campaign today. It’s a cloud-based service that provides an ability to select a map section from literally anywhere in the world and produce a 3D model of the selected area. 

This 3D model could be inspected online - or 3D printed directly. They appear to offer a download of a STL file that could be printed on almost any 3D printer. 

The company apparently combines a typical map interfaces with high resolution GIS data to dynamically generate the maps. 

Download the 3D model or purchase a 3D print from Sightline Maps

Download the 3D model or purchase a 3D print from Sightline Maps

Their business model appears to be a freemium package in which the 3D models are downloadable at no charge, or you can request a professional high-quality 3D print for a fee. I suspect Sightline Maps gathers in a small commission for each print. 

The company has beta tested their system with a variety of industries, including very unusual applications such as mountain climbing, where I presume the climbers would 3D print a model of the target mountain to plan out a complex route to the top. 

Educators can make very good use of Sightline Maps' new service

Educators can make very good use of Sightline Maps' new service

However, the beta testing showed the most promise in the education market, where children were the most frequent users. 

Students using Sightline Maps to select and generate 3D terrain models

Students using Sightline Maps to select and generate 3D terrain models

It’s a great idea, as it demonstrates a number of key learning topics to a class, including geography, measurements, on demand manufacturing and certainly 3D visualization. 

A full-color 3D model generated by Sightline Maps

A full-color 3D model generated by Sightline Maps

If the service works, why the need for a Kickstarter? The company explains they wish to add in additional features requested by educators, and in particular the ability to produce full color models based on aerial imaging. 

This is interesting, as most schools would not have access to a color 3D printer, and their only alternative would be to request a professional color 3D print from Sightline Maps’ service. I think I understand how they’re going to make their business model work now! 

Regardless, this seems like a great service for children. If you’d like to support this project, by all means purchase a single model or subscription from their campaign page. 

Via Kickstarter and Sightline Maps

General Fabb

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has been writing Fabbaloo posts since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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