Customs: My 3D printing project

Discussion in 'Creative General Discussion' started by EpsilonEta, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. EpsilonEta

    EpsilonEta Well-Known Member

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    I have bought a 3D printer! Now I can try to make my own transformers figures.
    In this thread I will update you on the process and you could also ask questions or offer advise.

    I have read thru a few treads here about 3D printing and this one was very similar to what I plan to do. (Would love to hear from Snaku how it went or what problems uccured)
    I too will use Blender as I already have some experience with 3D modeling and it's a smaller step to rigging and animation if I wanted to try that. A CAD program might be better for exactness and tolerances but the printer have its limitations and I will probably have to post proses a few parts anyway. Blender also have new tools for 3D printing and it will be easier to make odd shapes and other fun things to print.

    So, the plan to start with making a simple G1 style toy (think stunticon) as a proof of concept and then move up from there.
    My next step will be to try making a white retool of the DX9 War in Pocket X08 Hoister (Hook).
    DX9-Hook.jpg
    This will test tolerances as well as strength of ball joints and connection pegs without having to worry that much about design mechanics. Of course I will also print an extra piece so that Hook can work as the right leg ;) .

    After that I will attempt an masterpiece sized Arcee of my own design, based on the Spotlight appearance but with an Earth mode. I started designing this shortly after reading the spotlight. Since then, IDW have given her an earth mode so maybe I try making that one too some time. But I have many other designs too that I'd want to do so we'll see.

    With the experience I have from my Lego Transformers I would imagine this will take a long time but I will keep you updated here and once I finish something it will get its own page in the Customs section.


    Feel free to ask anything or just sit and watch the (painfully slow) progress.


    Projects planed or started:
    G1 style toy
    White retool of DX9 Hook
    Legends size Prowl
    Masterpiece Spotlight Arcee
    (E.J Su's Sunstreker)
    (E.J Su's Jazz)

    Finished figures:
    Links to come.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  2. Snaku

    Snaku Well-Known Member

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    It didn't go that great for me. I found Blender to be user friendly and intuitive but extremely bothersome. I would frequently try to use booleans to cut shapes out of other shapes or to combine shapes only to have the whole part disappear on me and I had to spend forever tracking down which vertices it didn't like before it would cooperate.

    The other issue I ran into was I went to print the feet (as noted in my last post in that thread) and it got rejected by Shapeways because it had areas that were too thin. I was able to redesign them but ran into that boolean bug again and lost steam. It's been on the backburner ever since. Currently my plans are to get the OS KO Arcee when it releases and mod it into the figure I want, re-purposing some of the parts from my 3d design and doing other parts from styrene and/or apoxy sculpt or designing new bits in 3d. I figured on designing new elbows, forearms, hands, knees, lower legs, and feet for 3d printing and reshaping the other parts by hand.

    Another issue I had was, because Blender is more designed for organic shapes than for drafting work, I often found it imprecise when it came to figuring out how to move the parts around and arrange them for alt mode. I mean it's definitely doable but it felt like an uphill battle. Having said that, I chose to stick with Blender over switching to cad because Arcee has a much more organic shape compared to most bots and I figured getting those contours would be as much a battle in cad as the measurements and movements were in Blender. I love the modifiers in Blender, especially the subdivide where you can make a nice rounded shape with only a few vertices, making it very each to reshape by only moving a few points around. I also loved the boolean for making cutouts from other parts when it actually felt like cooperating with me.

    Also, I don't think Blender has any tools for having the parts have actual substance where they get in each other's way. It's a minor thing but it would've been nice, while moving parts around for transformation, if the parts would bump into each other so I could see whether they'd actually work as real components.
     
  3. EpsilonEta

    EpsilonEta Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the input and good luck with your other plans.
    I've had bad experience of boolean operators too from other 3D programs so I try to use it sparsely. Blender's version is better but sometimes I end up having to doing manual adjustments after. I will also make the holes as late as possible when I'm sure they are at the right position.

    All the other issues I think I can avoid by using my own printer. For example I can make as thin sections as I want (probably 0.5 mm if I push it) but of course that will compromise stability so I wont go that far. Basically I try to have real toy desigs in mind. I can also print to see how it transform and check if things collide (but I think rotating along axis and the parent function work well enough. Setting the object origin at the main rotating point also help)

    I too like the many tools in Blender, especially the modifiers but I rarely use subdivide on transformers because I'm a control freak and I want to set all the point myself :) 
    But the biggest advantage of using Blender is to me that I can download finished models for alt modes then I “just” need to make it into printable parts for the figure.
     
  4. Snaku

    Snaku Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I would never commit the holes and stuff until I was sure about the entire piece. The problem I had was, for example, with the foot I was building: I built the shape the way I wanted it and then I put in the piece to cut out the hole for the toe hinge and the whole thing went invisible on me. I was finally able to resolve it by reducing the sub-divide, committing it, and then removing all of the double vertices, but since I didn't want it committed yet, that was problematic. Ultimately, I had to do the commit, examine it to make sure the cutout worked the way I liked, and then undo it so I could do further edits later.

    And yeah, I get being a control freak but for round shapes, that's just way too many vertices to manage. I tried editing parts after committing a subdivide and it was a nightmare. I'd much rather deal with a dozen vertices over an area than 60 but with subdivide I could do the work of editing a dozen while getting the smoothness of 60. And there are tricks to get back the control that you lose: doubling up the vertices along a line in the shape will give you a nice corner or ridge, for example. That's how I got the shape of Arcee's face so smooth and round but with the sharp robotic face lines.

    I get setting the origins for objects and I could mostly see how they moved. The problem is when you're mooshing a bunch of parts together into a car, it can sometimes be difficult to tell if any of them are overlapping on the inside. As I said, a minor issue, but one that I'd rather not have to deal with if I could avoid it. It occurs to me now, though, that I could have just made the face that was facing me invisible and then look from the inside for anywhere there were intersections.
     
  5. EpsilonEta

    EpsilonEta Well-Known Member

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    I had the same problem that sometimes with the boolean difference/subtract the part disappear and only a little bit of the pin remain (basically the opposite of what was meant) I solve it by switching to union/merge and then manually turn the pin to a hole. But I can understand if this gets annoying together with subdivide. If you apply the boolian first the hole gets distorted by the subdivide and if you want to apply it after you have to apply the subdivide first.
    I would just take a copy and apply everything for print and keep working on the original. Also, make sure you have the right scale before you send it (import your stl file in a fresh Blender). I made this mistake and all tests came out way too small because the scene scale was of.

    Here are a few WIP shots of the Arcee I started working on (and stopped working on) long ago.
    Arcee.jpg
    (The transformation is based on Animated Arcee as I felt it was the best toy at the time.)
    Arcee2.jpg
    You can see how smooth (or not) the round parts are and how I try to check if things collide. The Idea is to solidify the parts when the shapes and rotation points are right.
     
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  6. Rodentus prime

    Rodentus prime Old Git

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    Have you looked at Fusion 360 for this sort of thing (at about 53 mins into this video)
     
  7. Snaku

    Snaku Well-Known Member

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    Just checked out their site. Free for students, enthusiasts, hobbyists, and startups. That's pretty cool. I suspect that license doesn't cover a shapeways store where you actually sell your product though.
     
  8. Rodentus prime

    Rodentus prime Old Git

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    They don't check, and I think it's fine as long as you're not earning thousands with it.
     
  9. EpsilonEta

    EpsilonEta Well-Known Member

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    Nice that you could get some extra advise.
    Here are a few things I recently printed.
    Print1.jpg Print2.jpg Print3.jpg

    I have also completely redesigned Prowl so it couldn't really be called a re-tool of Hook anymore.
    More details to come.
     
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  10. Snaku

    Snaku Well-Known Member

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    Been a while since I looked at the first post and I'd forgotten you were working on Prowlifying Hulkie. I don't have any interest in IDW but it's looking pretty good so far. I'm interested to see your rework of Hook into Prowl.
     
  11. Big Hache

    Big Hache Well-Known Member

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    Wow that's some nice work on that Arcee. I think you'll find though that FFF printers leave a lot to be desired in terms of getting small details.

    Regarding booleans, those operations perform similarly in all 3D programs and they're not incredibly awesome. You should make sure your both models are solid/closed before the operation or you will find stuff disappears.
     
  12. EpsilonEta

    EpsilonEta Well-Known Member

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    Thank you.
    And I'm aware of the limitations of FDM (FFF) printing but I think I can work around it to some degree. I might also order heads and other details printed with SLA (steriolitografy) but I'm not sure how well those materials would work as ball joints.
    Having a printer at home make it a lot easier to try things on the way and I have a lot of colors to choose from (but I'll have to learn painting too some time)
     
  13. Big Hache

    Big Hache Well-Known Member

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    I'm still experimenting through this process myself, and I'm coming to the conclusion that casting SLA prints in resin is the way to go, or try to make the ball socket two pieces so as not to put stress on the ball, or both.
     
  14. Snaku

    Snaku Well-Known Member

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    Where can you order SLA prints from and what is it about SLA that would make you choose it over shapeways' FUD?

    I'm not sure what you mean. Are you talking about getting an SLA part, making a mold from it, and casting it in some other kind of resin?
     
  15. EpsilonEta

    EpsilonEta Well-Known Member

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    Shapeways FUD is printed with SLA (it's the name of the process, not material. There S&F is printed with SLS)
    Thats what I figured he ment. But I think there are materialls for SLA that could work for balljoints (no idea how good Shapeways' would work) but if you do as Big Hache suggested and print the socket in two you can adjust the pressure/friction
     
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  16. Big Hache

    Big Hache Well-Known Member

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    Yeah pretty much what ∑ said. I have not tested it (because I'm concerned with the outcome), but I have doubts that a 3D printed ball joint will last.

    First you have the risk of sideways/glancing pressure on the neck of the ball when you insert into the joint. And if you need to take it out there's pressure pulling on the neck. Either could snap the ball off.

    Next the ball (or joint) could wear down becoming really loose.
     
  17. Snaku

    Snaku Well-Known Member

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    Sure but people have 3d printed ball joints, haven't they? There's transformer minifigs you can get from shapeways that come all sprued together. Or articulated hands with ball joints in the knuckles. I've never tried any of them but somebody must've.
     
  18. Rodentus prime

    Rodentus prime Old Git

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    FDM printed ball joints down to about 7-8mm diameter work great and I've had no breakages and little loosening while messing with them (ABS).

    (my ongoing project - skeleton from the thingmaker app - I'm replacing parts with the yellow guy as I make them)
    2016-09-13 21.16.06.jpg
     
  19. EpsilonEta

    EpsilonEta Well-Known Member

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    Yes, ABS plastic as well as SWs Strong and Flexable would work for balljoints but we where unsure about SLA printed materials like SWs Frosted Ultra Detail and similar. It might be hard to get the fine details from SLA printing and high strength of FDM printing. One possible solution could be to print a strong sceleton and a detailed shell thet goes around it.
     
  20. Snaku

    Snaku Well-Known Member

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    Just a follow up. I looked into Fusion 360 some more and found that you're allowed to use it free even for business as long as your business makes less than $100k a year so Shapeways is fine. As you said, they likely don't check but it's always nice to know that it's perfectly allowed and legal.

    I'm installing Fusion 360 now and I'll take a stab at learning it. It looks like it does a really good job of blending CAD and modeling so it has a lot of the advantages of Blender along with the advantages of a traditional CAD program. I've never used a CAD but, from the tutorial videos, it looks like this is an easy program to use by CAD standards. And I love that joint function with the collision! You could build an entire Transformer, test all of the movement to see which parts hit and to see pretty much exactly how well everything can move. Then you can arrange the components, sprue them up, and export them for printing. It also does a simulation thing that highlights any structurally weak areas so you can shore those up. Basically it's ideal for exactly what we're talking about doing in this thread.