3D printing has been something I've marveled at for the last several years, watching it's sudden growth and refinement. I've spent much of that time trying to convince employers that we really need a 3D printer in the office, mostly just so I could play with it. And like many admirers of 3D printing, I've only really admired the pictures, other peoples projects. It seemed like magic, but magic costs money, and I couldn't justify buying myself I printer or printing items that would simply sit on my shelf as a trinket.
But my friends, I have taken the plunge into the world of CAD design and tiny plastic filaments, and I invite you to jump with me. In this instructable I'll show you how I went about designing personalized minatures for a garden setting and how I built an environment for them to live in. This project was completed as a gift, the 3D models you see here are modeled off of two of the tombs in the Lodi Gardens in India, which my sister sent me pictures of during her study abroad.
Step 1: Inspiration
3D prints can be anything you can imagine. People have printed everything from cellular scaffolds, dice, toys, even cars. For this project, I modeled two buildings my sister saw in India - my attempt at bringing a little of her trip home. It should be noted, that I am not in any way, shape, or form experienced in 3D printing or CAD modeling. This was my first real attempt at either. So don't let inexperience keep you from trying this new media.
Step 2: Modeling
I used a free online site called Tinkercad to do my modeling. This site is a very easy to use, user friendly site with plenty of video tutorials on how to combine shapes in different ways. I started with a model of the Taj Mahal, which i found online as a free example of an stl file, because I knew there was no way I was going to be able to get the arched doorways or domed roof right by myself. This is a great way to learn about CAD software - I spent a long time fiddling with how to crop out shapes that I wanted, how to realign them on different planes, and how to combine them into a final solid piece. It took several evenings for me to finish the designs so that they resembled my original inspiration, so don't be worried if the first day doesn't go well. If you like the designs I made, and want to print them without any further modification, I've attached the stl files here.
Step 3: Printing
Print! This is the fun part, the bit where you get to see something transfer from your computer screen to real life. As I said in the intro, I don't have my own 3D printer (one day), so I used 3dhubs.com. For those who've never heard of this site, it allows people who want things printed to connect with individuals and companies in their area who have 3D printers and are willing to do odd print jobs. It provides instant quotes for different printers in the area based on what material and resolution you require and was much cheaper than the professional print labs I looked at or even the maker labs in the area that offer 3D printing.
I was super excited that both structures actually printed properly on my first try!
Step 4: Building a Home for Your Model
This is the part of the instructable where I'm going to deviate a little bit from the technology side of 3D printing. These models were inspired by buildings in a garden setting, so I decided to make a miniature garden that they could live in. Specifically I wanted to do a multi-tiered pot that could live either outside or inside inspired by the ones pictured here: http://knifetoagunfight.tumblr.com/post/108892400554/0sc4r-mb24jg-wincherella-vwalker
There are 5 main parts to building a tiered pot like the one I've pictured here.
- Marking your lines
- Scoring along those lines
- Breaking the pot
- Gluing all of the tiers in place
- Filling it with dirt
The tools used in this project were as follows:
- A dremel
- A 2" diamond cutting wheel attachment
- A hammer
- Hot Glue Gun
You will also need
- Safety googles
- A mask
- A pencil
- A large bowl of water
- A washcloth
- Mark where you want to cut your pot with the pencil (helpful because you can erase it later if you aren't spot on.
- Soak the pot in water for a few hours - the wet teracotta will create less dust during cutting.
- Put on your safety goggels and mask before starting to cut.
- Using the diamond wheel attached to the dremel, create deep score lines along your marked line. If you are working with a smaller, thinner pot you may be able to cut all the way through. Use the washcloth the wet the surface while you're cutting to minimize dust.
- If you cannot cut all the way through the pot with the dremel, use the nails and hammer to tap along the score line causing the terracotta to fracture where you have scored it.
- Use the epoxy and hot glue to fix the broken pieces inside the largest chunk of pot in a manner that you find pleasing.
- Allow the epoxy to dry, then fill with dirt and small plants (you can find these cheapest at places like Lowe's and Home Depot)
Step 5: Enjoy
Place your 3D prints inside you garden and admire the miniature world you have just created. Add further details if you like - I added blue abalone shells to represent a stream. (To get these to stay in place I mixed them with epoxy then laid them on the dirt and allowed them to dry. Now they don't get washed away when the plants are watered).