3D printing in Gallifreyan

in #printing3dlast year (edited)

An experiment in 3D printing Doctor Who's Gallifreyan language


In this post, we'll examine how to integrate Gallifreyan text (The circular text used as decoration in the famous Doctor Who TV show) into a 3D printable model !

But first of all, Guess who's deliriously happy because he's finally got a 3D printer ?

Yup, that'd be me !

I finally got my hands on the 3D printer I won 2 years ago in a Christmas 3D printable design competition on MyMiniFactory !

The idea

Pretty much everyone, colleagues, friends and family, are busy thinking of something cool I could 3D print for them.

My best friend said she wanted a 3D printed Tardis (which just finished printing, using this model, and taking approx. 9 hours for the hollow body, 1 hour for the top).

The Tardis model gave me the idea to look for 3D printable Gallifreyan, the fictional language of the timelords.

As we can see, there's ton's of models out there employing the concept, but a cursory search of the interwebs didn't show a tutorial to go from 0 to Gallifreyan words and sentences that were printable (not that I looked for that long. I prefer figuring things out on my own).

Gallifreyan has no meaning ?

The first hitch is that Gallifreyan, as seen in the TV shows... is entirely decorative.

The is no logic in the symbols seen in the TV show... at least not till several fans devised their own systems of writing Gallifreyan, a system which was retroactively adopted for some episodes where the show creators thought it made sense !

After some research, I found that Sherman's Circular Gallifreyan seems to be the most popular version:

After figuring that out, I went on a search for a translator that'd give me an image for a specific sentence of Gallifreyan.

After all, while it'd be fun to use a famous phrase a designer has already written out in Gallifreyan, it's even more fun to use your own words and phrases !

I found one that allows for creating images and SVG's of whatever words, or even sentences, one can think of (Well, excluding punctuation):


Here's an example


Hello Steemit, Welcome to Gallifrey

With Adrian17's Gallifreyan generator, we've got a way to generate a Gallifreyan message to incorporate into a 3D printable model !

SVG to 3D

I recently won 2nd place in another design competition, and my reward was a 1 year free license to the SelfCad online 3D design software.

So, of course, that is the tool I'll be using for this tutorial ;)


Creating the SVG... in two steps ?

When I first tried this, there was a slight error in the proceedings.

Indeed, if I take the SVG of this image


And import it into selfcad (either as a PNG using the "Image to 3D" tool, or as an SVG imported directly)



It... doesn't look very good.

So, given the tool let's you save the elements as either image or SVG:

I tried converting the PNG image to an SVG instead

This took quite some tries, as the method most tools use to convert images to SVG's result in SVG files whose path overlap, which isn't ideal for 3D printing, and most tools break down upon trying to make sense of it.

But, after testing several methods (PNG -> SVG -> STL, PNG -> TL, SVG -> STL, direct SVG import. Each conversion step using a different online service...)

I finally found a good setup !

So, the method is this:

This results in consistently usable STL files, yay :


This is the longest test sentence ever.

Even the longer sentences are generated properly !!

OF course, the longer they are the less pretty they become, with lines crossing each other everywhere.

But Adrian17's translator tool allows you to manipulate the end and start point of all the generated lines, and move the center of entire letter/word structures around, so as to let you adjust the visuals.

Awesome tool, now if it just saved the file with the name being the sentence you've written, instead of just Gallifreyan.png and Gallifreyan.svg (I've got up to Gallifreyan(11).svg on my computer now hehe).

Maybe I'll be motivated enough to fork the code on Github and add a better file naming scheme...

In any case, we've now theoretically got a printable element !

Creating a printable design

I made some experiments in what, exactly, we could design with this, and it looked like there are some... limitations.


As we can see, the generated STL's are huge compared to the printing area of my MIGO.

Resizing them only works to a certain extent, which limits the possible models that can be created with them.

The nozzle size on the MIGO is 0.4 mm, meaning that if the resize brings the size of the holes/extrusions underneath that point... Well, the result speaks for itself:

Something is missing from the printed model...
I can't quite put my finger on it...

After some experimentation I deduced that at maybe 8X the "line width" the SVG generator creates:

8X equivalent to pressing the "+" button 8 times before saving the SVG

I initially thought to include a whole table of different sized models and rescaled Gallifrey writing and print them all out together to see which scales were best, and which got the "Too small, will ignore" error seen on the Ring ... but that ended up getting so messed up I could hardly make heads or tails of it myself...

In any case, as far as I've figured out the initial 8X model can be rescaled to approx. 9% of it's size, which is ~40 mm in the X and Y coordinates.

The main product of my work is thus this "demonstration token":



It printed relatively well, even if some of the smallest details got a bit smudged.

I'm hoping to experiment with a few derivative designs, like a Tea Coaster.

As far as 3D models go, I've created a second version of the above demonstration token, spelling out "Steemit" on a Coaster, that is available on MyMiniFactory:


Here's the main steps of it's creation:

  1. Import the Coaster template


  1. Import the STL, generated using the instructions I laid out in this post, rescale it to the correct size and center it on the coaster:


  1. Use the Stitch and Scoop tool to scoop the Gallifrey text out of the coaster:


And voila:



I'll create a 3D print of it tomorrow, but for now I'll leave the model itself.

Hope you enjoyed this little tutorial !

I certainly had lots of fun exploring just what my printer can make, and designing the first custom object since I received it :)

I wonder if I can find some inspiration for the new MyMiniFactory competition that just launched today, My Little Prince designs...

As always, my 3D design is licensed CC-BY-SA 4.0


Very cool, the print came out nicely too!

yeah I'm happy with the outcome. it's so much fun being able to prototype modelling ideas and play around with the printer 😊

got another interesting idea after printing a Star Gate "home address" keychain/medallion yesterday too... after all, the Wraith and Ancients in that series also have their own alphabets 😄

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woah this is really cool, I (not being a big Doctor Who fan) had never heard of Gallifreyan but I love created languages in general and the circular form is really cool! Awesome post :) @tipu curate

thank you, happy you like it :)

I initially just though I could find a nice Gallifrey design, as I knew the circular format in the show was just decorative.

But then I researched it, and found out several fans have made functional variants of the writing system !
Then I couldn't resist trying to make a process out of it :)

It's especially interesting to me because my sister's got her own language and writing system developed for her long-term artistic project:


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