Turn your CAD models into Stereograms

It’s easy to get intuition of the shape of a CAD model when rotating the model around in your CAD software or a 3D viewer. Unfortunately, most of the web is still 2D, and it’s much easier to pass around images than .step or .stl files. Fortunately, 2D is all you need to make images that pop off the page with stereoscopic techniques – much like the Magic Eye books of the 90’s.

If you rotate your model by about 15 degrees and take screenshots of both orientations, then that is enough information to generate stereoscopic images. For example, below is the CAD model from my noble gas tube display, and I’ve made a “stereo square” using python’s mpl_stereo matplotlib add-on. The top two images form a parallel-view stereogram, the bottom left is an anaglyph viewable with red-blue 3D glasses, and the bottom right is a “wigglegram” that lets anyone see what’s happening without special viewing techniques. Pretty neat!

If you don’t want to mess around with python, then a parallel-view stereogram is as easy as pasting your two screenshots next to each other. Or you can search around find many tutorials for making anaglyphs and animated gifs in photoshop or other image editing programs.

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