Experiment in Sharing 3D Printing Design in iBook

iBook Cover

One of my motivations to work at STEM camp last summer was to purchase a Mac computer so that I could use iBooks Author. I had several projects in mind including helping a friend write leveled readers with audio narration for elementary students as well as creating content that meets the Universal Design for Learning framework. I would prefer a multi-platform solution but there isn’t an equivalent open source set of tools to view or create multimedia ebooks. I have since fallen down a deep rabbit hole filled with 3D printing and makerspaces and have been working on converting a few article into the iBooks format. I think there is some great potential for students to share their 3D design work through an iBooks portfolio.

One of the most exciting things about the iBooks format is it supports 3D files. Instead of describing a 3D model in an article and then linking to a file, a 3D model can be embedded right in the page. Unfortunately, the Collada format that iBooks uses is not used in the 3D printing community and there is very little documentation in converting files for use in iBooks author. STL files for 3D printing can be converted into the .dae format for iBooks author using Meshlab or Sketchup. The conversion can distort the original STL file. STL files also do not have color data so can be hard to distinguish features when the file is displayed in iBooks. I have had a minor successes in converting color .VRML design data from TinkerCAD into iBooks.

I have created a sample iBook that includes an interactive 3D image on the last page. Click here to download the draft iBook, 3D Design: Year of the Horse Medallion. (This file is only compatible with iBooks on IOS devices or Mac.) Here is a pdf version of the file (note that the 3D image is not interactive in the pdf).

I am reaching out to the 3D printing and iBooks Author community for ideas on sharing 3D images in ebooks or websites. I would like to share .STL files, color TinkerCAD files and color scans. Any tips, tricks or links would be greatly appreciated.

-Convert STL and/or .wrl files to .dae files without distorting mesh.
-Simplify meshes to size that iBooks author will accept with minimal distortion of mesh.
-Convert face color to vertex color cleanly for .wrl to .dae conversion. (Tinkercad to iBook)
-Convert 123D Catch models in .obj format to .dae format that ibooks author will accept.
-Reduce size of textures for import into iBooks author.
-Set a camera view so that the 3D preview is at a selected angle and zoom.