Norway has over 20 rivers, over 32 glaciers, about 1,190 fjords, 4 volcanoes, about 187 mountains, and approximately 149 waterfalls. Why am I telling you this? It’s because these natural features of the small, Scandinavian country are just some of the characteristics that make Norway worth 3D printing. And, with an online service called Terrafab, you can own a little piece of the little kingdom for yourself.
New Jersey Norwegian tech design firm, has developed a method for transforming portions of the Norwegian landscape into a 4 x 4 inch (10 x 10 cm) printable model that can, then, be printed on your own 3D printer or ordered from Shapeways in full-colour sandstone for about $100. Interestingly, the project was the result of the 2013 parliamentary elections. As Bengler describes it, “As a going away present the centrist left government in 2013 mandated that the Norwegian Mapping Authority give away a solid chunk of their geospatial data. We had previously been publicly critical of the pricing and availability of geodata and it was therefore surprising and grounds for great merriment when they called and asked us to help with the release.”
So that their natives could grasp the geospatial dataset with easy visualization and using common, open source tools, the group first released “Norway in a Box”, a software for creating topographical maps of the country. They also developed the aforementioned “Terrafab”. And, finally, in “Intersections”, they printed two 3D maps with SLS to represent the data they obtained in a very tangible way, including a map of the roads vs. elevation in Oslo and, with the help of a marketing analysis firm called InsightOne, the distribution of wealth throughout the country. The Bengler blog explains what 3D printing demonstrates with this latter project, saying, “While not terribly salient seen next to a choropleth map of the same data we find how the west side of Oslo towers over the inner city to lend a certain frisson to these income statistics.”
This isn’t the first 3D printing project that the tech firm has taken on. They’re also responsible for GRBL, a software for controlling the movement of 3D printers that is used by the popular Marlin firmware. And, outside of 3D printing, they’ve invented Chorderoy, which is a crazy device meant to make typing on mobile and wearable devices more efficient. Needless to say, Bengler is super cool and worth keeping an eye on for future 3D printing-related projects.