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'Vase mode' & NASA Trek Moon, Mars easy terrain .STL with "Generate 3D Print File"

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  • 'Vase mode' & NASA Trek Moon, Mars easy terrain .STL with "Generate 3D Print File"

    For those interested in planetary science & easy to generate custom terrain models to print as 'vases' or to add to their FreeCAD creations...

    The NASA Moon, Mars, Mercury, Ceres, & Vesta Treks ( ) have a point drag click 3D print file (.stl or .obj) creation tool for rectangular block terrain models.

    My son & I have been using the 'vase mode' printing concept Irv describes in his FreeCAD vase video to print models of our favorite planetary features on our Ender 5 pro with eSun pla+.

    For example, here is a NASA Trek link to an interesting crater on the Moon region that has printed nicely for us ( link to the .STLs on thingiverse ).

    & another example using the NASA Mars Trek to retrieve a Digital Elevation Model (DEM), then using QGIS plugin DEMto3D to make a scaled .STL ( files & more details on thingiverse ) of a desired custom region of the DEM.

    Since we have been enjoying the FreeCAD introduction videos, we are sharing the above custom way to easily generate .stl models from real planetary data in case other creative members would like to use the easy NASA Treks web interface tool to make their own surfaces to include in their FreeCAD designs.

    We are thinking of customizing some containers to have tops or sides with our favorite Lunar or Martian terrain models as a beginner FreeCAD project (a step up from our 1st project of a 'plain multi sorted pencil holder' ;-)

    With the NASA Treks tool, we are generally getting decent .stl results with the resolution set to 800 and terrain height exaggeration set in the 3 to 5 range.

    Some notes from the NASA trek team about the resolution setting of the tool:

    "Q: what exactly does the default resolution value of 400 mean?
    A: We generate STL/OBJ from DEM in raster format. 400 x 400 pixel is the resolution of the DEM used to generate the model.
    the higher the number, the higher detail of elevation data is used to generate 3D model, however, it could only go up the original resolution of the DEM we are using to generate.
    There are two limitations with the web interfaced STL/OBJ generation right now.
    1. the higher the resolution, the longer it will take to generate, and it could lead to HTTP timeout.
    2. Through web interfaced generator, only one global DEM is used to generate STL/OBJ
    a 400 x 400 DEM will generate an over 320,000 faces 3D mesh.
    an 800 x 800 DEM will generate an over 1,280,000 faces 3D mesh.
    In general cases, generating STL/OBJ on a smaller area will have higher level of detail than larger area at fixed DEM resolution"

    Have Fun & Enjoy!
    Last edited by GrowFlavor; 02-05-2021, 02:55 PM.

  • #2
    An interesting project, for you & NASA. I had no idea they were doing things like this. Thanks for sharing.


    • #3
      This is so cool--thanks for showing this!

      As it happens, I've been working on a different kind of moon prints for the last week+ that I will share later--the moon lithographs.


      • #4
        Nice, I am also into lithographes.
        This is one of one of my dogs.


        • #5
          Here are the pictures of my moon lithographs:

          Seeing this post gave the the idea of printing 3 sides of a cube to create a little stage for holding my 5" moon on the rotating stand. I'll send pictures when it's done, but it will be at least a week from now. My printer just started a 5 day print job.


          • #6
            Beautifull! Five days, impressive but worth it I think..😀


            • #7
              Originally posted by Cas56 View Post
              Nice, I am also into lithographes.
              This is one of one of my dogs.
              Very nice, might you have a few of your favorite links describing the technique you use to create such great looking ones so that I might try to learn?


              • #8
                Dr.VAX did a great video on lithophanes:


                • #9
                  Hi there,
                  here is a link to another good lithophane-site:


                  You can make your design on the website and download it for printing.
                  Quite easy if you just want to make your first lithophane


                  • #10
                    A site that's been mentioned in these forums is


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mochalatte View Post
                      Dr.VAX did a great video on lithophanes:
                      Originally posted by Ender5r View Post
                      Thank you for these great resources, we started watching/tinkering with them this past weekend!