3D Printing Terrain
There are two methods I suggest for printing 3D terrain models: first is using an app and the other is using a plugin (DEMto3D) in the open source software QGIS. Both of these methods produce .stl files for 3D printing.
For .stl editing:
Meshmixer: a free 3D model editing tool from Autocad
Meshlab: this is another free editing tool, less oriented for printing and more towards making digital 3D models, but very useful for converting between file types
First: The easy method, use an app
Here we will select an area for our terrain model. Zoom to a place you want to map or enter your desired latitude/longitude in those fields.
You can then place a box which will be your terrain .stl file. There is no way to change the shape of the box, but we can trim the resulting stl in editing software. The box can be moved/adjusted for size.
Put 2 in the first blank for water drop, and zero in the second for base height (this is a suggestion, default usually works okay too).
Then take a screen shot of your selected place – if you hit the alt key with print screen it will just take a photo of your active window. You can then paste this in a word doc or other program for reference. This will be a reference to orient your final product.
When you have it set how you like, hit Create STL File and then DOWNLOAD. An stl file is a file that can be 3D printed.
Then SAVE FILE. The .stl file will then wind up in your download folder.
Second, the more difficult method: QGIS
QGIS is open source GIS software. You can download the software here.
For this method, you will need to load your own Digital Elevation Model into QGIS. For suggestions as to where to find DEM data, please see the DEM guide.
The steps for this method are as follows:
1) Go to plug ins in QGIS and add the DEMto3D plug in.
2) Load your DEM data into QGIS (Layer -> Add Layer -> Add Raster Data)
3) If you have more than one DEM to include in the model, use the Merge tool to combine them (Raster menu -> Miscellaneous -> Merge)
4) Run the plugin, it will be under the Raster menu labelled DEMto3D.
5) Enter the specifications of the model you want into the plug in. The values in the tool pop up are explained here: https://demto3d.com/en/ayuda/
6) Save and export your model
Generally exports from this tool are ready for printing and do not need editing.