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Earth and Computer Sciences Collaboration a Success


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Planet Earth.

Students at the University of Waikato have developed software that optimizes the creation of terrain models using a 3D printer.

Credit: woodleywonderworks

University of Waikato students have developed software that optimizes the manufacture of terrain models created by a three-dimensional (3D) printer.

"My project involved researching how to use the 3D printer to create different methods of displaying Earth sciences-related information, such as topography surfaces through contour data, geological fault and fold models, geological maps and so forth, for 3D printing in first-year labs," says University of Waikato student Gemma Johnson.

The software, called 3D Terrain Marker (3DTM), models elevation data from any area around the world and converts it into a 3D model format that can be printed. "The software I developed with Gemma was similar to something I was developing in my spare time for game creation, using real data pulled from the cloud," says Waikato student Anthony Barr-Smith. "The software basically automated a repetitive process that before now was being done by hand. Challenges like this interest me so I created a model generating program that lets you select coordinates and creates a model to your selected detail level."

Barr-Smith says the 3DTM software makes it possible for anyone to generate a model, even if they have no experience in modeling software.

From University of Waikato
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