In my youth I spent hours building precision scale models of various military fighting vehicles from kits made by Tamiya. They were intricately detailed and I would do everything I could to make them look realistic–right down to weathering them with fancy airbrushed paint jobs. Even so, I was limited to what kits were available to me at the local hobby store. Today’s modelers not only have the vastly greater selection offered by the Internet, they also have the option to modify or even scratch build kits using 3D printing to create the plastic parts. The ultimate conclusion of this capability, as realized by a professional miniatures designer, can be found in the Collosus giant miniature tank made by Michael Sng’s Machination Studio. Sng had been chief product designer of STIFKAS, which has a real cult following, so he knows all about creating miniatures.
This crazy thing is choc-full of details and animation. It walks with the help of servos, and is fully 3D printed. Here is a time lapse of it being assembled:
[youtube width=”800″ height=”540″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1QKhqv1dgg[/youtube]
Time lapse of the Colossus assembly…
And here is an overview of the project:
[youtube width=”800″ height=”540″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImHawTtY67o[/youtube]
Over 400 parts had to be 3D printed to create this miniature. We all know that 3D printed parts typically require a fair amount of post processing before they’re acceptible for a project like this. Here’s a video Sng made to show his post processing steps. You can clear see some of the layering on the parts.
[youtube width=”800″ height=”540″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dnPYJw0nTA[/youtube]
Every part gets a “rattle can” base grey coat of paint. Further painting is done via airbrush with some dry brushing for highlights.
What an amazing project. I can’t imagine how many hours must have gone into it.
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Bob is responsible for the development and implementation of the popular G-Wizard CNC Software. Bob is also the founder of CNCCookbook, the largest CNC-related blog on the Internet.
I think there are two important aspects to this. Firstly, creating a model from a kit without the use of 3D by the model maker is a completely different experience from the design-then-3D print cycle. The more real-world design then print some or all of the parts, is more like an extended model-making exercise, with some computer-based tasks added on. We can discount
The question would be: what will become of the existing kit-making companies? The answer, I think, is that (a) they will remain ahead of the quality curve, producing parts with a greater precision, and (b) they have invested in the design process, with access to plans and accurate dimensions which are simply not available to most modellers.
As 3D printing takes its place as just one (interesting) tool in the modeller’s armoury, it is more likely to be used by the kit-bashers amongst us, for making parts to customise models, in much the same way that after-market companies have developed additional etches for models.
In the end, this is a useful tool, but not one which threatens the existing kit manufacturers much.
Perhaps the growth might be in the sale of parts or models stored as files, for individuals to print themselves.
Interesting times, right enough.