3D printed Twitter visualizations


More fun with making data solid


As I’ve posted before, I love the idea of turning data into solid physical objects. Karsten Schmidt (aka Toxi) worked with some students at HEAD – Geneva last year to create some neat visualizations, including a physical representation of a Twitter stream.

To try it for yourself, first follow my previous instructions on getting started with Processing and Toixiclibs.

Next, download this zip file that I’ve put together and extract it somewhere: http://www.techknight.com/ponoko/NodeTerrain.zip

Now open the NodeTerrain folder and run NodeTerrain.pde in Processing. You’ll get a rendering that you can use the mouse to interact with, and an STL file of that model will be exported in the same folder:

NodeTerrain render

Now, you can take that STL file as-is over to your 3D printer, but you can have even more fun if you check out the rest of the visualization projects for exporting your  own Twitter stream (instead of the included Justin Bieber’s 🙂 ). There isn’t a lot documentation, but have a look through the TwitterCity folders here: http://learn.postspectacular.com/hg/HEADGeneva/summary

One caveat is that both Processing and Toxiclibs have been updated since the projects were created so some changes are necessary to get them running. For example, in the NodeTerrain.pde that I included in the zip file above, I had to change the line mesh=terrain.toMesh(-100); to mesh=(TriangleMesh)terrain.toMesh(-100);.

There are more photos from the workshop available here, and if you run into any issues, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to help.

Derek Quenneville is a 3D printing evangelist who posts weekly on the Ponoko blog. Follow him on Twitter @techknight.