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Extruding Worlds – The Art of 3D Printing

So about a month ago I decided to buy my very first 3D printer. Ever since my local public library got a Makerbot 3D printer a few years back, I became astonished by some of the creations that were capable with the device. At that time though, I could not invest that amount of money into something so complicated. My knowledge of 3D modeling had just been reinvigorated, but the library didn’t have the staff to teach you all the ins and outs. It was more like a BYOM (Bring Your Own Models) and print it there. However there was a queue for waiting when to print something. The wait times were long because nobody really knew how long something would take to print.

Don’t get me wrong. I love how libraries are opening up these maker spaces for emerging technology, not everyone can afford or get their hands on. Technology is rapidly advancing. My friends decided to get into 3D printing and started to post images of their progress. I was instantly amazed at two things; the quality and cost.

Tekken’s Yoshimitsu by Raf Grassetti sculpted in Zbrush
Tekken’s Yoshimitsu by Raf Grassetti 3D printed and painted

Before deciding on getting a 3D printer, I wanted to learn about the pros and cons, and as well 2 of the popular methods; FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) and SLA (Stereolithography). Cost and safety factors were something I needed to consider. As much as I wanted to go for the best in SLA, I don’t have enough space, or the time to commit to its post processing work. What really cliched me into going with FDM, was from watching two character modelers I followed on Instagram; Rafael Grassetti and Glauco Longhi of Sony Santa Monica Studios. I saw some of the work they were creating in their free time and I really wanted to aim for that quality. After a few questions and answers and exchanged with the two, I knew I needed to join the Ender family.

Crealitiy Ender 3 Pro FDM 3D Printer

So the best way to sum up the Ender 3, it’s basically “the Instant Pot of 3D Printers”. My friends told me have some patience with the assembly and dealing with the pros and cons of FDM and the machine in general. Bed levelling is by far the worst thing I’ve needed to deal with. Getting the print bed levelled and heated for the 1st layer is crucial in 3D printing. I must thank the 3D printing community for their assistance. They have been very helpful in what needs to be done, the modifications that are available after market, and the technical issues you’ll encounter during printing. 3D printing isn’t necessarily cut and dry in terms of process compared to printing a page of text to an inkjet printer. Both have their fair share of settings. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of variables you can control with 3D printing.

Right now I’ve been playing around printing free 3D models I’ve downloaded online. Once I have become more comfortable with what is possible and developing a workflow, I’ll want to create my own 3D models from scratch. I would like to create my own toys and statues from my own character designs. I want to replicate that Disney Infinity toy look, then eventually get into real detail sculpting .

My personal goal for 3D Printing progression

Below are some images of some of the things I’ve 3D printed so far. I’m currently working on a personal project that’s more intricate and requires me to learn some new software. I’m currently playing around with TinkerCAD and Fusion 360 from Autodesk. I will post the final outcome and the full progress some time in October.

-JD