1st expiriment with 3D printing: 1/24 VF-1S head

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SpyderDan

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
My backburner / spare time 3D modeling project for some time has been making a definitive detailed model of the VF-1 Valkyrie from Macross, specifically the updated design from the 1984 movie version Do You Remember Love?

Progress has been slow, getting the details right, and getting the tranformation to work as designed (rather than the simplified interpretations in toys and models), but the results so far have generated a lot of interest and excitement on the Macross World forums, where I have a WIP thread.

Here are some of the progress renders I have shared of the untextured WIP model there:

VF1_test1.jpg


old_nose_1.jpg


vff1_head_base_2.jpg


Popular demand about the possibility of a 3D print version got me curious, so I got sidetracked researching the tech available. I decided to start with the VF-1S head model.

S_head_neck_angles.jpg


I prepared a sub-d version of the model, watertight, and made hollow to make a lighter and less costly model. I decided on Shapeways for my first attempt, and settled on their Frosted Ultra Detail material, designing the model dimensions around the limitations of that material. 1/24 scale turned out to be the sweet spot, where 95% of my details would be big enough to print within the minimum detail size of 0.1 mm, and no walls would be under the minimum wall thickness of 0.3 mm.

Here are the parts prepared:

printable_s_head2.jpg


I uploaded this and placed my order, at a cost of $105. Chalk it up to beginner's luck, but the model was not rejected, and 2 weeks later I received my print:

b5ceb4d1.jpg


539e9d45-1.jpg


The print arrived undamaged, and with crisp intact detail, although quite greasy and with remnants of the wax support material deposited in the build process for this particular type of material. After some time spent cleaning, via ultrasonic cleaner with hot water and dish soap, and extra work to get the wax out of the hollow gun barrels, the result was some clean parts, ready for primer:

45f28b8d.jpg


After a coat of Tamiya fine gray primer, the details popped out, along with some flaws:

59818a20.jpg


1d26cc75.jpg


There were some minor print lines, along with some faceting on the curviest parts, but some light sanding helped a great deal.

Handed off to my buddy Derek Simon (with better traditional modeling skills than me), it was painted up and assembled:

s_head_print_quarter_front.jpg


s_head_print_5view.jpg


The clear parts were too thin to print, and none of the materials available are clear enough anyway, so Derek improvised with clear green plastic from a Perrier bottle and Elmer's glue for the small lenses.

I'm pretty pleased, for a first try at this. At the very least, I learned a lot. I've already made revisions to the model to fix minor problems and to crank up the resolution to avoid faceting (slipping just under the Shapeways limit of 1 million polys and a file size under 64 Mb via zipping the file), and made a vac form buck for the clear parts. We'll see how those parts turn out in a few weeks.

Overall, I've had a great experience with 3D printing so far, and I intend to move forward with it and eventually print all of my model (part by part, as I complete it, which will help with the expense).
 

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darthviper107

Well-Known Member
That's some pretty good quality coming from Shapeways, usually there's some kind of issue, but I don't even see the rough surface that usually happens where there's support material.

By the way, the extra material on there can rinse off pretty easily in hot water.
 

SpyderDan

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Yeah, I think I worried a bit too much about the cleanup process. I was certainly afraid to try any harsh chemicals or too much heat. The biggest problem was the gun barrels, which are hollow almost all the way back, and have a rifling-like detail inside. I goofed and didn't run drain holes through the back, but updated that for the 2nd version.

The rough surface from the support material became quite noticeable after the cleaning process stripped the micro bits of wax out, but light sanding took care of that. I attempted to lay out the parts so they would only fit in the printer in the orientation that I wanted, with the majority of the surfaces that would require the support material on the parts that wouldn't be visible, and it seems to have worked out.

The next one will get more sanding. I was afriad the 0.1 mm panel lines and details would get lost with any sanding, but they survived much better than I expected.
 

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darthviper107

Well-Known Member
Yeah, I think I worried a bit too much about the cleanup process. I was certainly afraid to try any harsh chemicals or too much heat. The biggest problem was the gun barrels, which are hollow almost all the way back, and have a rifling-like detail inside. I goofed and didn't run drain holes through the back, but updated that for the 2nd version.

The rough surface from the support material became quite noticeable after the cleaning process stripped the micro bits of wax out, but light sanding took care of that. I attempted to lay out the parts so they would only fit in the printer in the orientation that I wanted, with the majority of the surfaces that would require the support material on the parts that wouldn't be visible, and it seems to have worked out.

The next one will get more sanding. I was afriad the 0.1 mm panel lines and details would get lost with any sanding, but they survived much better than I expected.

I think their printers capture more detail than they think--I had a 1/2256 blockade runner and I could see the detail of a little grill in the trench details and I'm pretty sure it was smaller than 0.1mm

The only issue though is that support material, I wish there were a way around that. Maybe the ultra high-resolution jewelry printers.
 

DaddyfromNaboo

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Now THAT is fantastic! So I guess that a full 1/24 Valkyrie will cost you around 2,5k or something :\

Oh, and making a cast of the parts before assembling them helps you to not worry about making any mistakes while working on the printed master parts ;)
 

SpyderDan

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Thanks!

I think their printers capture more detail than they think--I had a 1/2256 blockade runner and I could see the detail of a little grill in the trench details and I'm pretty sure it was smaller than 0.1mm

I'm wondering about that as well, and hoped/figured that they might be conservative with their specs. The small details turned out better than expected, but there are still smaller details in the 3D model that didn't show up, or might as well not have. I'm thinking you can get smaller than 0.1 mm if the details are straight lines parallel or perpendicular to the print layers, but not so much if they are round or at an odd angle.

Now THAT is fantastic! So I guess that a full 1/24 Valkyrie will cost you around 2,5k or something :\

Oh, and making a cast of the parts before assembling them helps you to not worry about making any mistakes while working on the printed master parts ;)

Yeah, the whole model will certainly cost well over $1k. Hopefully it won't go as high as $2.5k. At least with this head, I was able to keep the walls only 2-3 mm thick, which cut down the cost considerably, while still resulting in strong pieces.

It would be pretty difficult to mold these parts, unless you made them solid or cut them into halves. Certain things like the hollow gun barrels probably couldn't be done at all. The separate eye detail piece can only be fitted from inside the head, sandwiching the visor in between. If I make the model available to the public to order, at least I would hope these factors would cut down on the chances of being recasted.

I would go about the design of these parts quite differently if I wanted to mold and cast it, but it would compromise the model as it exists. I actually wanted to see what could be done with 3D printing, including features that you just wouldn't/couldn't do in resin, or even injection molded plastic.
 

Darth Ronnow

New Member
WOW!!!
This is just beautifully done. That is some superb modeling and is obviously a very successful experiment.Thank you for posting these screen grabs, I've really enjoyed staring at this thread. Would you mind telling me what modeling program/programs you were working in. I have read and read this thread and many of your other posts with no luck. Again great stuff.
Cheers,
Clint
 

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SpyderDan

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Thanks guys!

The 3d model has been a back-burner personal project of mine for some time. I was using Maya when I started it, but switched to 3ds Max eventually because that is what I was using at work (and I get into a workflow groove and prefer not to switch back and forth between 3d packages).

I have my print of the revised version now, with some nice improvements over the original. I got this one much smoother (less faceted) by cranking up the poly count (sub-d model) right up to Shapeways limit of 1 million polys (I didn't previously know that they would accept .zip files, so I was running into their file size limit well under their poly count limit). I also tweaked a few other details, like venting the hollow gun barrels through to the inside so that it would be much easier to clean out the wax support material.

Here's some pics of the 2nd version. This is with a few passes through an ultrasonic cleaner, and no other modification (no sanding or other prep):

606c742c.jpg


ebab6835.jpg


s_head_v2_print.jpg


I would really love to move forward with printing other parts of the model, but that's currently on hold due to lack of funding. I'm out of work at the moment.

MOD EDIT: sales info removed.
 

Talisen

Sr Member
I gotta say this is very impressive! When I started reading and saw the renderings I was expecting it to be severely dumbed down for the 1/24th scale print. But it wasn't! the detail in the visor area is astounding!
Even rifling in the barrel, your model work is impressive to start and with your experience just doing this, I can only imagine what the rest of the model will look like.
 

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SpyderDan

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Thanks!

A good deal of the credit goes to Shapeways and the expensive ProJet printers they use for the Frosted Ultra Detail material. It costs quite a bit more than their Objet printed materials, but the results can be pretty impressive if you push it right up to the limits.

I scoffed at the idea of trying to print this level of detail for some time. The subject kept coming up on the MacrossWorld forums, where I have a WIP thread for the 3d model, so at first I was researching the limitations of their printers to debunk the idea. People were interested in smaller scales like 1/60 and 1/48 as replacements for the toys and model kits that are available, and that would result in losing much of the detail (or needing to make a version of the model with much thicker panel lines and solid gun barrels and such).

Looking at the specs for the FUD material, however, got me to take more measurements on the model and try to calculate what the smallest scale that would work might actually be. 1/24 scale was looking like it would be just within the limitations.

Still, I knew my model as it existed would not be ideal for the task. All my tricks of the trade learned from my video game work don't translate to what works best for a 3d printer. So, I made a new revision of the model and turned it into a subdivision surface model so that I could crank up the poly count and smooth the geometry tessellation as much as possible.

Another thing I did to help maximize the quality was to design the layout of all the parts to suit the printing process for these printers and this material. The layout fills up the printer volume, and can only be oriented a couple of ways in the printer. The placement and orientation of the parts is an attempt to minimize the amount of the wax support material these printers use that would be in contact with the outside surfaces of the model.

I'm very pleased with the results myself, and hope to do a lot more of this. I just wish it was affordable! The affordable DIY 3d printers are getting better, but they still aren't up to handling something like this yet. It seems like everybody is judging them by how thin they can get the print layers, which will help make simple round surfaces smoother, but I don't think it translates as much to making finer details. The materials that the DIY printers are using don't seem to as good either.

Maybe in another few years the technology will catch up, and we'll all be able to do this stuff at home. I totally agree that this technology will change the face of modelling.

I've seen some of the old guard here on the RPF saying that 3d printing and scanned props can never surpass the accuracy of more traditional methods of replication. I can see the point with existing attempts that have been made. However, there are absolutely limitations to those traditional methods and materials as well, and it is only a matter of time before the accuracy and resolution of the 3d scans and prints, in the hands of skilled modellers, can begin to come out on top. Stuff like mold degradation and deformation, and generational casting material shrinkage, will be things of the past.
 

Too Much Garlic

Master Member
Those who fear 3D modeling and 3D printing will take over completely and erase the need for physical sculpting and fabrication should relax a bit. It is just another tool and works better for some things, while traditional sculpting and modeling and fabrication works better for others. It should be manageable to don't go to the extremes and forget perfectly good methods for creating things, just because there's a new tool in town. Use whatever tool that works best for whatever you're making and gets the job done without worrying about snobbish sentiments about what should be considered the only ways to do things. There is no "only way"... there is many ways and the many tools to achieve them.

The new prints are looking really good.
 

Darth Ronnow

New Member
Howdy, SpyderDan
Thank you very much for the reply. 3Ds Max... I thought it might be. Maya and 3Ds Max I got those. Mine are older versions I'm sure than what your using. Round 2 is even more amazing. Just to cool.... Man the cannons are rifled!!! Come on really... who does that kind of detail?
 

crackerjazz

Sr Member
That is just fantastic! Although I don't like the way computers and CGI dominating sci-fi effects nowadays, I feel exactly the opposite when it comes to 3D-printing. It's the future of model-making and I'm waiting for the day when everyone can easily draw a 3D model and start printing parts at home.
 

Nwerke

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Seconded, crackerjazz - have been actively looking at home printers lately and there are several which are *almost* at the specs I want. Mostly the footprint is the issue, I want something ideally around A4 footprint or bigger, at any rate with the capacity to print parts at least 12" in max dimension. I haven't found anything that's quite there yet but it sure looks as if something like that will be available soon.

This is just amazing work. I've ordered Mike S's 1/24 Valk kit but a cannon-fodder version - if I was doing an S I'd absolutely be in for one of these. Mindblowing.
 

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