Papercraft is the art of assembling paper models cut out from a
sheet of paper and folded together. Unlike Origami, what you’re
left with is usually polygonal rather than representative in
nature. Remember assembling cardboard cut-outs as a kid? Tab A goes
to Slot B. Pepakura Designer embodies that concept, and what it
does is creates or imports 3D objects and makes foldable objects
out of them that can be printed and assembled.
Obviously, the really technical 3D objects aren’t going to be
practical for printing and assembling, unless you’re a
masochist–so the simpler, the better. Although it took some
digging to find something this old-fashioned, I found an Ascii
stereolithography (SLA) file that defines a primitive 3D object.
Pepakura Designer successfully imported a vase and made an
extremely complex papercraft out of it.
Pepakura Designer ostensibly supports 3D objects from many of
the most popular 3D designing apps, such as 3D Studio and
Lightwave, and even Google Earth objects. However, I tried a KMZ
Google Earth object, but Pepakura Designer wouldn’t even open it.
The developer said that Google SketchUp version 6.0 or 7.0 works
best. I also tried 3D Studio files and STL files, and both imported
fine. Keep in mind that even a low polygon count model may be too
much for papercraft. Simple is better.
Pepakura Designer comes with a few sample files of cubes and
such, which are excellent for printing in color and testing
yourself. The app is great at turning simple shapes into something
that can be printed and folded into your very own papercraft model.
Your best bet is to either draw the object in Pepakura Designer
itself using its built-in tools, or find a way to create an STL
file in another app, and import that into Pepakura. John Burkardt,
formerly of Florida State University, maintains a Web site which
lists a bunch of files in this format. However you create your object,
Pepakura Designer will break it down for you. Check it out.
Note: The demo for Pepakura Designer prevents
any saving and exporting of files. The full version costs $38.