3D Printed Designer Art Toys

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Introduction: 3D Printed Designer Art Toys

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I originally made some that were laser cut, but having them cut by an outside source is prohibitively expensive.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.

Materials:

Access to 3D printer

Tinkercad or other 3D modeling software

X-acto knife

Sandpaper

Acrylic paints

Paintbrushes

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!

3D Printing Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
3D Printing Contest 2016

Purple Challenge

Participated in the
Purple Challenge

1 Person Made This Project!

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24 Comments

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NYCLiving
NYCLiving

9 months ago on Introduction

OMG, this is so cool!! Thanks for sharing!! I am definitely going to look into making this for my bf, it would be perfect. He loved the kid robot collectables and now loves stuff like KAWS so I want to try to make a customized KAWS one :)

IF I cannot manage this myself - would I perhaps be able to outsource this from you for $ ? :) Thanks!

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Brooklyntonia
Brooklyntonia

Reply 9 months ago

As an artist, I wouldn't try to copy another artist's work, but I'm glad my ible has gotten you excited to try to create your own! I do have some of my laser cut art toys for sale if you're interested in checking those out. https://brooklyntoniatoys.square.site/

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Brooklyntonia
Brooklyntonia

2 years ago

This presentation outlines how my high school art students used this process to create their own 3D printed art toys!

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NYCLiving
NYCLiving

Reply 9 months ago

Awesome!!

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PieterVerduijn
PieterVerduijn

Reply 2 years ago

That lesson/website/presentation I am going to use in cooperation with the ART teacher.
Totally a fan of these projects. More to come.
And the kids (and me) are OBSESSED with it.

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PieterVerduijn
PieterVerduijn

2 years ago

Such a cool project! Currently designing these monsters with grade 5. I'll keep you guys posted about the progress of them.

You can see the photo's of the whole lesson series in this thread. However, the evaluation rubric I put in this post. I used it with the children to evaluate their work. It is deliberately written postively and the children can only score in good, better and best categories. I believe in Art and Makerspace there is no such thing as a bad score, but only improvements.

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Brooklyntonia
Brooklyntonia

Reply 2 years ago

Excellent! I can't wait to see what they come up with!

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PieterVerduijn
PieterVerduijn

Reply 2 years ago

Here's my grade 5 monster army just printed!

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PieterVerduijn
PieterVerduijn

Reply 2 years ago

And here's the whole bunch with the first layer of paints on them. (next week we will finish them)

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PieterVerduijn
PieterVerduijn

Reply 2 years ago

Here are the final results after the second layer painting. I spray painted all of them with a gloss varnish. The students LOVED this assignment. They couldn't wait to get them home. With pain in my heart a waved those monsters goodbye!

I will add a rubric on how I graded/evaluated them.

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PieterVerduijn
PieterVerduijn

Reply 2 years ago

I have added the evaluation Rubric in the first post, because I couldn't add it here. (Only images) But maybe that does make sense.

Should I edit all the photo's also in that first comment? Or leave the thread as is?

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PieterVerduijn
PieterVerduijn

Reply 2 years ago

I have to make some documentation I read there, on how to Grade them and such. I will do that and then I'll enter the competition.

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Brooklyntonia
Brooklyntonia

Reply 2 years ago

I want that army fighting on my side! They're so great!

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PieterVerduijn
PieterVerduijn

Reply 2 years ago

first one I made as an example for the kids. They're coming in in an hour from now. I'll show photo's of them progressing through tinkercad.

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Brooklyntonia
Brooklyntonia

Reply 2 years ago

That is fantastic! I love it! Thanks for sharing.

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PieterVerduijn
PieterVerduijn

Reply 2 years ago

Here are the students busy with their creations! They really love it. And it's not too hard tinkercad stuff. They're all doing it by themselves!

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dorotheabrown37
dorotheabrown37

5 years ago

there sooooooooooooooo cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute

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audreyobscura
audreyobscura

5 years ago

Their little stares are so good! You did such a good job of dressing up each one!!

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Lineakat
Lineakat

5 years ago

this is so cool!!!