I had a friend request that I print out the Bathymetry of Lake Michigan as a gift for her PhD adviser. I went to NOAA and the site had a few files for the Bathymetry of Lake Michigan.
Files and types are located here: http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/greatlakes/michigan.html
I am trying to convert this into an STL file to print in my 3D printer however I am having no luck in converting this into a mesh I can use. I have tried multiple approaches with the different files that are listed but cannot seem to get it to properly convert to a mesh. I have tried the following so far:
-Import an .xyz file into MeshLab to convert it to an STL. After I import it looks like nothing imported and I can't navigate around in the file
-Import an ASC file into MeshLab to convert it to an STL. After I import it, I get no errors but the output is a long, thin mesh that looks nothing like lake Michigan
-Just for a test, I imported the .xyz file into Autodesk ReCap just to see what would happen. I noticed that the points were in a long thin area similar to the ASC import but as I browsed around I noticed that the each layer of dots was the actual Bathymetry contours.
I have tried multiple approaches and software beyond these but can't seem to get the files to convert into a printable mesh that I can manipulate to send to my 3D printer.
I was able to download the file collection from the link you posted, although I used none of the Grid files, as they seemed inappropriate to this task. The shape files were then imported into AutoCAD using the trial version of Spatial Manager.
The resulting drawing indicates that it's in 3D. When the 3D orbit tool is selected, the image rotates a flat drawing.
I saved the AutoCAD DWG file and imported it with SketchUp, ostensibly not the smartest program for this sort of thing. The result was a flat image, not a 3D one.
I suspect that the resulting flat drawing IS the image and cannot be 3D printed, unless you have reason to believe otherwise.