With the advent of affordable 3d printing, I finally found a cheap and efficient way to make my own toys at home using high resolution rapid prototyping technology, silicone molds and resin plastic. I will be documenting this process on my blog to show the progress and to help others do the same. It was quite difficult to find out about this process online, so this is my way of giving something back to the online community.
I’ve been looking into rapid prototyping for a few months, and finally started getting some quotes from different RP companies. While doing that, I uploaded an STL file to Shapeways.com and got a quote for 400 USD. At a price like that, I wasn’t quite prepared to go straight to ordering. However, they happened to have a competition to get a free model made and shown off at Siggraph 2008 which I was lucky enough to be one of the winners of.
Blender Nation SIGGRAPH 2008 Shapeways YouTube.
(Jump to 2:01 to see the husky toy)
The model looks like this.
This is quite impressive print quality. From what I can tell this is their “White Detail” level. The details come out very nicely, however its texture is a bit rough and not at the sort of smoothness a normal plastic sculpt would be. I tried sanding it down with limited results, the texture was still visible; though smoother to the touch than before.
At the size of 10x10x10 cm’s the shapeway print costs $471.19 including shipping. This is quite a high price compared to some of the other quotes I eventually received.
Other quotes at 9x9x9cm:
Scimitar Prototyping Inc (www.sci-proto.com): $536 (plus shipping)
Steven Guevara (email@example.com): $195 (plus shipping)
Carsten Rosenbohm (firstname.lastname@example.org): 360 Euros (plus shipping)
3D Art To Part (www.3darttopart.com): $164 (including shipping)
I am by no means a master 3d modeler, I just started learning this last year so I am sure many would find my polygons horrifying! However, I did manage to get the husky to a level that I was quite happy with. Despite some strange edge loops… ^-^
Regardless, with enough smoothing in Maya, it worked out. Shapeways (and most of the others) required I provide them with an STL file. I had to convert an OBJ file into STL via a PC app, which proved to be quite the task as the size ratio needed quite a bit of tweaking. Luckily, Shapeways now has this handy new tutorial that will make the process easier:
My Flickr Set
Resin is the New Vinyl Flickr Group
Rapid Prototyped Chocolate Monkey Faces
Yoshii’s ZBrush Toys
Smooth-On Mold-Making Tutorial Video:
Freeman Supplies Tutorial Videos: