Here is a photo of the finished scorpion model assembled with ABS parts. This instructable is geared towards those who are interested in 3D printing, but don't know where to start. Here I'll show you how to use tools that are available for free to design custom posable models and generate 3D files that can be printed by you or by one of the thousands of printing services available on 3Dhubs. All of the parts for the 3D model were exported directly from the Autodesk Tinkerplay app in .stl file format and uploaded to 3D hubs to print.
I would also suggest researching your local libraries for 3D printers and computer labs and Makerspaces in your area which may offer day passes and classes.
Step 1: Autodesk Tinkerplay
Download the free app. I use an android device, so naturally I go to Google Play but Tinkerplay is available on iOS and windows as well.
Step 2: 3D Design
Normally 3D design would require expensive software and expertise, especially to model detailed parts with ball and socket joints. With Tinkerplay it is easy for a novice to select from the vast library of parts and mix and match heads, torsos, arms, legs and other appendages and accessories to create a custom character in 15 minutes. The app even allows you to pose your character and see its range of motion. when your happy with your character you can add color to the parts.
Step 3: Export Your Parts
When you select the green button in the middle, your model will break up into parts separated by color and is now ready to be exported to .stl files for printing. you can choose how to export your parts. By default you will be given an IP address when you push the green button a second time. The IP address should start a download to your device, of a zip file with all the .stl files needed to print your character. I chose to change the export setting to save my parts to my dropbox instead. Dropbox is supported by the Tinkerplay app, so this option was very easy to set up.
Step 4: Print Your Parts
If your like me then 3D printing is relatively new to you and you don't own a 3D printer. If you do, then you can use the .stl files from Tinkerplay to create your gcode and you're ready to print. For the rest of us, 3D hubs can help. the zip folder you exported from the Tinkerplay app can be uploaded directly to 3D hubs at www.3dhubs.com where you can shop from thousands of 3D printing services to get your parts printed at a competitive price. You will need to set up a free account to use the service then payment can be made through your Paypal account or through 3D hubs. I've found many hubs in my area to choose from where I can arrange to pickup my parts or have them shipped to me, typically within 24-48 hours.
Step 5: Assemble Your Creation
All the parts fit together great. With Tinkerplay and 3Dhubs I was able to let my son create a character on my tablet, which he thought was pretty cool in itself, and then pickup the printed parts the next day and show up at home with all the parts to assemble his creation. This earned me countless cool Dad points.