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Welcome Global Mapper Users

Global Mapper is an ideal tool for generating shape and image files used to make physical 3D terrain models.  The shape file directs a CNC milling machine to cut the model. The image is converted to grayscale, dithered and laser marked on the model surface. Laser marking is an accurate optical and CNC machine process.


Submitting shape and image files allows you to control model parameters and lowers model cost. Send a SHAPE file to make a base model. Send both IMAGE and SHAPE files for a laser marked model. A flat image can be marked on coated MDF board, metal, or other material.


The example shows how to make SHAPE and IMAGE files in Global Mapper. Use the large file transfer utility on our contact page to transfer the files to us.


Before looking over the example you might review the following background information:

Example: Augusta State Airport, Augusta, Maine


The data for this model comes from the USGS via The National Map Viewer. The elevation data is USGS 3 meter

lidar. The image is from .3 meter USGS orthoimage data.


Scaled Model Parameters                                                              Unscaled Model Parameters for Global Mapper

Model size is 15" x 10". The scale is 1:9600 or 1"=800'.                   Size: 3657.6 meters x 2438.4 meters

Model shape resolution is 100 points per inch  (.01").                     Elevation grid spacing: 2.4384000 meters

Laser marking resolution is 500 pixels per inch (.002").                  Image grid spacing:  .487680000 meters


In Global Mapper, use unscaled model parameteers to make your SHAPE and IMAGE files:

15" x 10" finished model

The exported files, AugustaSHAPE1.tif and AugustaIMAGE1.tif, are used as the starting files for further work or they can be carved and laser marked as is.


To make the name plate, AugustaSHAPE1.tif and AugustaIMAGE1.tif were imported into Global Mapper as a new project and checked for feature alignment (1).

The name plate size is 1" x 2.5" or 800' x 2000' unscaled. A rectangle was created in the upper left corner (2). The digitizer tool was used to select the rectangle. The rectangle was right clicked and the 'Edit' option was selected. The length of sides of the rectangle were changed to 800' and 2000' by selecting each side and clicking 'Edit length' (3), unchanged length values are shown. The 'Feature Vertex List' window was closed. The rectangle remains selected and was right clicked for 'Edit' options, 'Advanced Feature Creation Options' followed by 'Calculate Flattened Site Plan from selected areas' were selected. This brings up the 'Site Flatten Parameters Setup' window (4).  A height of 64.9 meters and fairly steep edge slope of .4 was used to flatten the site. The end result was exported to AugustaSHAPE2.tif using the same settings used for AugustaSHAPE1.tif.

                      1                                      2                                        3                                  4                          3D View of name plate        AugustaImage2.tif

The image, AugustaIMAGE1.tif, was imported into a photo editor for adding text to the name plate. Since the image resolution is 500 pixels per inch, the name plate is 500 x 1250 pixels. A 500 x 1250 pixel layer was created in the photo editor. The layer background was colored a light gray. The name plate text was typed in and positioned in the 500 x 1250 pixel layer. The resulting picture was saved as AugustaIMAGE2.tif.


The shape and image files that would be sent to us are AugustaSHAPE2.tif and AugustaIMAGE2.tif.

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