Introduction: 3D Printing a Complex Figurine

Picture of 3D Printing a Complex Figurine

We all know how fascinating 3D printing is.

For product designers, it's a dream making machine. It literally is like taking your thoughts out of your head and holding it in your hands. Now that's an empowering feeling for an individual like you and me.

In spite of 3D printing technology being so awesome, it's not a fairy with a wand. You need to know your way around it to get your work done. It takes practise and good judgment to get the best out of it.

This figurine (called Garuda in Indian mythology) is a fantastic example to learn it. I did this is in a span of 2 days (printers running overnight). It was quite fun doing it though. So let's learn how it should be done.

Step 1: Study the Model Thoroughly

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The first step is to always study your model thoroughly. It's important so that you know where all the curves and the intricate parts are, and where there is overhang.

For printing such complex models, you always have to split the model into number of parts, print them and then assemble later.

I printed the figurine in an FDM machine using ABS thermoplastic filament.

Step 2: Splitting the Model

Picture of Splitting the Model

This is how the model was split to avoid overhang (since overhangs need support structures) as much as possible and get a good surface finish.

So this step is required to reduce the amount of support structures required which in turn saves time and material. And it also maintains a good surface finish.

Those who use ABS plastic know how time consuming it becomes to polish the model surface using a sand paper. So it's better if you can get a good surface finish while printing, so there is no need to polish it later with sand paper.

PS: I did not print all these together. They were printed one after another.

Settings used in MakerBot slicer:

Layer Height = 0.1mm

Shells = 2

Infill = 20%

Speed = 30mm/s while extruding and 40mm/s while travelling

Step 3: 3D Printing

Picture of 3D Printing

Make sure your models are not warped. And the way to do it is to either switch on raft or apply slurry on the platform bed.

I prefer applying slurry as it saves the material of raft and it's quite easy to apply. Printing of raft will only add to print time. But using rafts is recommended for beginners because if slurry is not applied properly then your printed parts will never part from the platform :p

Note: Slurry is a solution of ABS and Acetone.

Step 4: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Assembly of the parts is fairly simple. I used a superglue to stick them together.

But before that, there was a little polishing required.

And to improve the surface finish even more, a primer spray can be applied to it(apply primer to each part before assembling them). That's what I did. And the surface was pretty smooth after that. This also makes it easier to paint.

So there you go! You can apply these steps to all your 3D printed models. I won't be able to share this file due to confidentiality reasons, but you can find similar files on Thingiverse.

All credits to the makerspace where this was made - Maker's Asylum (www.makersasylum.com)

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