I have just published a little video about my experiences of using a 3D printer to help with modelmaking for stop motion. I hope you find it interesting and useful.

https://youtu.be/yV-1IL-Ht3Y

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Sorry, managed to put this up twice... same video!

Very interesting. Looks like 3D printing can be useful in many ways.

That was a really interesting video, a great blend of the whole process, thanks for sharing. You've got a new subscriber! The model of the great room is fantastic, my mind kept looking at it as full sized when I knew it was a scale model. I can just imagine how realistic it will be once finished and filmed. Bravo!

I'm 3d Printer-curious, but know next to nothing, so this was a good introduction to the kinds of things you can make.  I was mainly thinking of props, too.

I would probably start with trying to get my head around the software, as I have very little aptitude for computer 3d modelling (as compared to cutting, glueing, and sculpting real materials) and might never get to where I have an object that would print.  My Lightwave 3d objects always developed errors when I used Boolian operations to cut out or join parts, and reducing points didn't seem to help.  After 3 or 4 operations of error on error, sections would turn inside out or do other weird things. I managed by not joining, just letting 2 objects intersect, and doing only the minimum of cutting away, but I suspect errors that didn't show in animation would freak out the printer. So the first step would be to make the model file and send it out to a printer.  Then if that worked, think about getting a printer myself, with some objects to print that I knew were able to be printed.

Yesterday I had an idea for something that I would have made on a lathe I guess.  But Paul McConnochlie in Scotland modelled it in Blender, and made some improvements to the design, then Marc Spess in the USA printed some up.  Marc uses a Reality CR-10s (which I googled, having no clue) and it is just a larger version of your printer,  so your post was perfect timing for me!  Looks like the Creality printers are sold here in Australia too, though at the moment with Stage 4 Lockdown in Melbourne I can't go look at one.

Watched the rest of the video - hadn't waited until the end to reply. Your wagon wheels are brilliant!  I have made spoked wheels (for 1:6 Hansom cab, so bigger diameter) from MDF layers, hardwood spokes, and dowel hub, and I can appreciate how you've designed it. Looks great, and much quicker.  And the windows - beats cutting holes in card with a knife, and post-wonkifying the printed window is a great idea!  And the tiny latches are things I probably couldn't make in that size.  Great work, as is your traditional model making.  I just subscribed to your channel! 

Nick, I would encourage you to have another go with the software. I knew next to nothing when I bought the printer in February, and started by simply downloading ready-made designs off Thingiverse for slicing and printing.

But there's not much available in the right sort of scale for stop motion, so I took a deep breath and started with some youTube videos on how to learn Fusion 360, an awesome and completely free 3D design program. I got a bit confused at first, until I watched the series called 'Learn Fusion 360 or die trying', which is brilliantly simple and clear. The basic issue is that most people assume the program responds rather like Microsoft products, but it actually needs an extra command to tell it what to do. Once you get used to that, it is very straightforward.

So I started by trying to make some fireplace mouldings, and after a few false starts they have come out great. I could not get them on the printer in one piece, so used the Mirror function and only had to design half!

I know just about zero about boolean this and that, and have taken a simplistic artist's view of things - I just want the printer to do stuff that would be too tricky for me to do by sculpting or cutting, or too tedious... Most of what I have done lays flat on the bed, so it gets designed in a simple sketch and then extruded upwards ( the window frames for example, which took about ten minutes to design.) I then used the Chamfer command to chamfer the inside edges of the frames, and bingo it was done. 

The window pane frames were even easier, just a matter of drawing out the rectangle, adding the lines for the pane sizes, then trimming away where the lines overlapped, so I got a continuous 'piece'. Then it was just a matter of extruding it by 1.2mm. I was honestly astonished and delighted that they came out, as I could not imagine doing a decent job on them by hand.

The wheel was a bit trickier, but basically I just did two main sketches, one a plan view and the other an elevation. Elevation came first, as the rim needed to be positioned off the floor. I was able to create all the parts as separate components, then do a circular repeating pattern for the spokes, intersecting the rim and hub. Altering it to make an eight-spoke wheel instead of a twelve-spoke one was a matter of copying the whole thing into another fresh design then fiddling with the dimensions a bit. I am sure there was some Boolean magic going on, but the user interface meant I didn't have to know about it. (I think I missed that class in Maths at school!)

The files are exported from Fusion 360 as .stl files, and you then take them into Cura (also free!), where they get sliced into instructions the printer can read. The tricky part is the slicer settings. Essentially you are squeezing toothpaste onto a hot printer bed, and there are all sorts of adjustments that can be made to help control the process. This does require some experimentation, but eventually I got to settings that work well, so I have them saved as presets. BTW, if you needed wheels at 100mm dia instead of 80mm, there is a magnification control in Cura that enables them to be simply scaled up. The same goes for the cobblestone rollers, which I showed at different scales.

I would acknowledge that Fusion 360 is really an engineering design tool, so it does geometrical stuff really well. It does not do surface texture and it does not do organic shapes. Blender is the program for that, but so far I have not cracked it as it has a whole new array of control buttons and commands. And for me it might be quicker and easier to sculpt stuff. I don't want my work to appear computer-designed, so would be roughing it up after printing anyway. But the sculpting is the fun part, Fusion 360 takes care of the boring or over-fiddly side.

My printer is the most basic filament type printer, a Creality Ender 3 Pro, and yes it does have layer lines. Anyone wanting to avoid those will have to go for a resin printer, which has a bath of gloopy stuff that gets zapped with UV to create each layer. I bought it to try out the 3D printable winders, and yet have been thrilled at how useful it is for the modelling... which is where the video came in. 

Just a note on the printers - I did find I needed to modify mine a bit, and probably might have been better off with a more expensive one in the first place. First up: I changed to direct drive, as this is more accurate than using the extended Bowden tube for the filament to be pushed down. Second was fitting adjustable tensioners on the X and Y axes, and third (oh joy at last!) was buying a PEI build surface for the heated build plate. This keeps the prints stuck firmly to the plate while they are being printed. It is attached to a glass bed so it is perfectly flat. The original printer had a flexible surface held onto the aluminium bed with a magnetic sheet, and this was simply not flat (we need accuracies of about 0.1mm here!), hence the glass bed - except that did not adhere the parts so well. Now I have the PEI it is perfect. But I notice that the more expensive printers have this as standard issue. Ah well, I got there in the end!

Sorry, this post is far too long, but I hope it conveys some of my enthusiasm for these printers as great tools to help with what we do!

Thanks! I am glad you found it interesting.

The Great Hall set is quite exciting to work on. We have some sculptures that fit onto the fireplace, so it is far from complete. The big scene it is used for is the vision of Hell, where my anti-hero dreams that the fireplace figures come to life and stuff his mouth with gold coins before dragging him down to a fiery pit that opens in the floor... so just a simple little number!!

Dennis Heinzeroth said:

That was a really interesting video, a great blend of the whole process, thanks for sharing. You've got a new subscriber! The model of the great room is fantastic, my mind kept looking at it as full sized when I knew it was a scale model. I can just imagine how realistic it will be once finished and filmed. Bravo!

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