Introduction: 3D Printed Designer Art Toys
Runner Up in the
3D Printing Contest 2016
I've been fascinated by designer art toys for years. I can't help myself when I see those little blind boxes on the comic book store shelves. They beg for me to tear them open to see what's inside. Kidrobot's Dunny series are all based on the same form, but the various imagery on that form is routinely designed by visiting artists. The blank Dunny is reinterpreted by the artist and mass produced. I've likely spent over a $1,000 on designer toys over the years and continue to collect them, but I've also always wanted to create my own. Most vinyl toy brands distribute a "blank" version of their toy meant for DIY, but that prospect never really excited me. I started to think of ways I could mass produce my own original art toys and got to work.
I originally made some that were laser cut, but having them cut by an outside source is prohibitively expensive. This time, I decided to make them with a 3D printer. My local library, only a couple blocks from my house, has a 3D printer and prints items for only the cost of the PLA material.
Access to 3D printer
Tinkercad or other 3D modeling software
Spray paint (optional)
Clearcoat spray paint
Permanent markers (optional)
Step 1: Tinkercad
Tinkercad is a great place to start designing 3D models for printing. It was easy to learn and you can create simple forms like I did, or much more complex ones with practice. If you've never used Tinkercad, they have tutorials to help get you started.
Once you know how to use Tinkercad, you can see how my toy was created. I've also added images of each of the pieces out of place, so you can see all the individual forms I used. Of course, if you aren't up to designing your own toy, you could print one of my Farb toys and paint it like visiting artists do with a Dunny.
I've attached the original 3" toy and a smaller 2" version.
Step 2: Get It Printed!
My local library printed these for me, and they only cost $10 for all three at 3" tall and 25% infill. While they ended up bigger than I expected, I was still quite happy with them. In the end, the size allowed me to give them more details.
Note: I wasn't concerned with the color of the plastic initially, but it was a bit of a challenge covering the blue with lighter colors, so I recommend printing in white.
Step 3: Cleaning
The center bottom had a fair amount of support material. The library cleaned it out for me before I picked them up, but I still ended up taking an X-acto blade to it in a few spots. There are ways to get it to be perfectly smooth with endless sanding, but half the point of 3D printing, for me, is to avoid heavy labor and get to the fun parts, so I wasn't too concerned with a bit of a rough patch on the bottom.
In the model, I put my name on the back of the left leg, but it turned out too small and wasn't legible. For these toys, I cut it off with my X-acto and sanded it down a bit, but I've since removed it from the design.
Step 4: Base Coat
Decide on a primary color for each toy and apply a base coat of paint. I tried using both spray paint and brushing on acrylic. Both worked great, however brushing on the acrylic made some of the ridges from the layers less prominent. If you brush against the grain, the paint fills the ridges in a bit. This also helped to camouflage the messy area left over by the support material.
Step 5: Paint
Now, you can get creative! Use the acrylic paint in large areas and the markers for small details. For my first few, I didn't use a theme. However, on my set of 2" toys, I'll consider theming the set.
When you've finished your design, spray the toy with a clear coat. I opted for a glossy version, but you may prefer a matte clear spray paint.
Step 6: Do It Yourself
I'd love to see Farb made over by some Instructables members. Whether you download Farb or create your own, have fun!
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