Send map tiles to 3-D printer

Posted to Maps  |  Tags: , ,  |  Nathan Yau

Mapzen, which offers a vector tile service, made Tile Exporter, so that you can search the world and 3-D print your favorites.

Since the vector tiles contain three-dimensional information, I decided to fabricate them with a 3D printer. To prepare the tiles for the printer, we first created a tool called the Tile Exporter. It grabs a Mapzen vector tile, offers you 3d preview in your browser, and then creates an .OBJ file of the scene that you can download.

It’s super easy to use, and even if you don’t have access to a 3-D printer, it’s kind of fun to zoom in on locations and drag your mouse around. But, if you do have access to a 3-D printer, it’s even more fun.

I downloaded a quick file of the Empire State Building, and it was off to the printer no problem:

Empire State 3-D print

Of course, this all depends on data availability. The tiles are based on OpenStreetMap data, so if nothing is entered for your area of interest, there won’t be anything to print.

Favorites

Shifting Incomes for American Jobs

For various occupations, the difference between the person who makes the most and the one who makes the least can be significant.

Best Data Visualization Projects of 2016

Here are my favorites for the year.

Marrying Age

People get married at various ages, but there are definite trends that vary across demographic groups. What do these trends look like?

Real Chart Rules to Follow

There are rules—usually for specific chart types meant to be read in a specific way—that you shouldn’t break. When they are, everyone loses. This is that small handful.