3D for Real – 3D Printing for Everyone

For Christmas this past year, I finally broke down and bought a 3D printer.  You might ask what this has to do with animation. The answer is “it depends”.  Movies like Coraline have already pioneered the use of 3D printing in stop motion films.  The idea that you can print a real world copy of a virtual character or prop is also appealing.

I’m sure I could come up with a better list, but the ability to create something in Zbrush or Cinema 4D and print out a virtual copy was the big seller for me (and the under $400 price tag didn’t hurt).  There are a couple of gotchas with the one that we bought.  It’s the Da Vinci Jr. and with it’s low price, there are a couple of things to consider.

  1. The bed slips – This is not a killer and the printer ships with 3 sheets of adhesive paper to help remedy the issue.  In our experience, printers tape works just as good.
  2. Proprietary filament – This is one of the reasons the printer is so cheap. You have to buy the PLA filament from the manufacturer (there is a chip that insures that you do).

Neither one of these is a big deal and this is a really good starter printer.  Better to try if out before forking over $2500 for a MakerBot.  We have used ours to print a variety of things including doll house furniture and robots.  The results have be reasonable.  The resolution requires some finishing with either sandpaper or XTC 3D Coating.

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