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Published on June 14, 2012
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#### Description

Could there be anything more fun than drawing 3D surface plots? Yes, you can 3D print 3D surface plots and hold them in your own hands! (Indeed, I wrote this OpenSCAD program in 2011 for a math teacher who wanted some tangible 3D plots for a blind student.)

And, it would be REALLY COOL to mod this somehow for dualstrusion to produce AWESOME contour plots. For example, print every fifth layer in a contrasting color. The one in the photo was done manually using the Jetty Firmware's "Pause at Z-height" and changing out the filament in a single extruder.

At any rate, be the first carbon-based life unit on your block with a Lego(tm) set which includes

z(x,y) = cos(sqrt(x^2+y^2))/(1+x^2+y^2)

Or, print your own doll house washboard with

z(x,y) = cos(|x|+|y|).

#### Instructions

3. Uncomment one of the sample functions, z(x,y)= and the corresponding 3dplot() call.
4. Render; using F5 to get a look-see is reasonably fast.

Note that when using math plotting software, the software often rescales the Z-axis for you, causing its range to be exaggerated or diminished relative to the X and Y axes. Since you're dealing with physical sized models here, that's left up to you. So, if you 3D 3D surface looks quite flat, you probably just need to multiply the Z values by some value like 5. Just change the Z function to add that multiplier. (While you could use OpenSCAD's scale() operator, that has the effect of also enlarging the skirt which you may not want.)

I did find that going much beyond a 50x50 grid would cause trauma for OpenSCAD (2012.04.04). I also managed to cause it to core once or twice. So, please be gentle with OpenSCAD. And if I'm doing something stupid, do let me know.
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This is great! If you ever want to go further with printing mathematical objects, Wolfram Mathematica can export almost anything into STL.