I’ve been trying to figure out ways to 3D print a large scale campus map for a while now. We’ve got a sketchup file from an architect with decent quality building models, though a lot of data is lacking. Today I found out that the entire U.S. is mapped with lidar, and that data is available for free download online through the USGS. I’ve put some of it up on sketchfab, but it’s pretty hard to see right now (sketchfab):
lidar point cloud of warren mall (above) viewed and meshed with CloudCompare
Pointcloud converted into 3D printable mesh (above) looks junky, but will scale well for 3D printing
mesh from above and zoomed out (above)
The data is a little hard to search through, but you can choose the “Elevation Source Data 3DEP” and draw a box around an area. When you hit search it’ll come up with all of the point clouds (LAS files) linked to that box. Hit “add all to cart” and you can download from there. The entire UCSD campus was about 40 separate files, about 2.5 gb total. The formatting and cleanup will be an intensive process, but I’m pretty happy with the results so far. Because this data is taken aerially, vertical surfaces are often missing and trees come out as strange obelisks. I;ll be working on scrubbing all but the landscape from these files and overlaying the buildings from the sketchup files. That should give me the best quality result most suited for 3D printing. I’m not sure what to do with the trees yet, maybe I’ll swap out some optimized tree models or just scrub them out entirely.
Here’s an example to view in browser, the landscape is gorgeous, the bushes and mansions pretty good, the trees GARBAGE (sketchfab):