Introduction into printing 3D parts for lightsabers

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TheJediSmuggler

New Member
Hey everyone,

I'm new to these forums. I've been lurking around for a while and I have to say... I've become even more motivated to learn how to make awesome props and lightsabers like the ones I've seen come by. There are a lot of experienced people here, and I love it!

To date I've installed a few sabers and own a few. It's a growing collection. I want to learn even more skills to make better lightsabers, for myself and others. These skills include weathering and printing 3D parts. For now, I'd like to be able to print parts that I could use to install my lightsabers with FX. So, I was wondering if anybody here has some experience with making 3D models that can be printed out. These questions come to mind:

1. Where do I start? What do I need?
2. What software is best for making 3D models that can be printed?
3. Is it difficult to learn? (I'm good with computers, but it might take a bit to get the hang of this new skill)

It's easy to feel intimidated by all the skills required to make amazing props, but I still like to meet these challenges head on. I may be somewhat of a beginner, but I learn quick. I'm looking forward to all your advice!
 

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Ford W Maverick

Well-Known Member
Hey everyone,

I'm new to these forums. I've been lurking around for a while and I have to say... I've become even more motivated to learn how to make awesome props and lightsabers like the ones I've seen come by. There are a lot of experienced people here, and I love it!

To date I've installed a few sabers and own a few. It's a growing collection. I want to learn even more skills to make better lightsabers, for myself and others. These skills include weathering and printing 3D parts. For now, I'd like to be able to print parts that I could use to install my lightsabers with FX. So, I was wondering if anybody here has some experience with making 3D models that can be printed out. These questions come to mind:

1. Where do I start? What do I need?
2. What software is best for making 3D models that can be printed?
3. Is it difficult to learn? (I'm good with computers, but it might take a bit to get the hang of this new skill)

It's easy to feel intimidated by all the skills required to make amazing props, but I still like to meet these challenges head on. I may be somewhat of a beginner, but I learn quick. I'm looking forward to all your advice!
I haven't been 3D printing for long, but I have a little experience.

I use the Ultimaker Cura program to slice my files. I find my files using Google. It was frustrating for me to learn at first, but once you start to get it the learning curve gets quite a bit easier. :)
 

13doctorwho

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Can you clarify what you want to do? Do you want to model your own parts, or find things on the internet that you just have to print? Do you have a 3D printer, or are you going to use a service?

I design custom parts in Fusion 360 (Autodesk) and it is free for personal use. I don't like the headache of dealing with the actual printing so I use a printing service. It just depends what you want to do... and if you're willing to invest money. The modelling part can be free (if you do it yourself and use one of the many free programs)... the printing is where there is cost (either buying a printer or using a service).
 

xl97

Master Member
SIZE of the parts you want to print will dictate the printer for the most part.

If you are just trying to do chassis and switch mounts..etc..

Then a small invest of $250+ for a MARS Elegoo RESIN printer would be a nice start. The detail and POST WORK is bar none.

Personally I think RESIN based printer types are the future..

However for now, the price for size just doesnt compete with FDM style printers.

FDM style 3D printers take alot of post work (sanding and sanding,, and more sanding).. you really have to get your printer aligned and calibrated to get good FDM prints (again this is my opinion only!) :)

As far modeling software.. there is never a right or wrong answer here.. (and has been asked many times before)

It sorta falls into price, learning curve for the user, and end use/results (more mechanical, or more organic... more for end use animation..etc)

Fusion360 is a pretty popular choice, because it has a free version* and it pretty damn capable (just a noob here to be clear, but has MANY features/options)...

But there are others that many like too TinkerCAD... Sketchup...all the way to SolidWorks
 
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TheJediSmuggler

New Member
Thanks for the responses guys! It's been a while since I created this thread, so I wasn't aware of it until just now.

I mainly want to do 3D modeling to make a chassis, switch holders, grip guides. The small parts really, no big fancy thing.

I have heard of Fusion360 and that a lot of people use it. So that software is appealing to me. As for the choice of 3D printer, I've a lot of good things about Ender 3. Does anyone know anything about that printer?
 

TheJediSmuggler

New Member
Can you clarify what you want to do? Do you want to model your own parts, or find things on the internet that you just have to print? Do you have a 3D printer, or are you going to use a service?

I design custom parts in Fusion 360 (Autodesk) and it is free for personal use. I don't like the headache of dealing with the actual printing so I use a printing service. It just depends what you want to do... and if you're willing to invest money. The modelling part can be free (if you do it yourself and use one of the many free programs)... the printing is where there is cost (either buying a printer or using a service).
I see. Which of the 2 options is better long term, printing service or getting your own printer?

I like the idea of having my own printer, as I could use it for more things in the future. And I wouldn't have to depend on a service.
 

TheJediSmuggler

New Member
SIZE of the parts you want to print will dictate the printer for the most part.

If you are just trying to do chassis and switch mounts..etc..

Then a small invest of $250+ for a MARS Elegoo RESIN printer would be a nice start. The detail and POST WORK is bar none.

Personally I think RESIN based printer types are the future..

However for now, the price for size just doesnt compete with FDM style printers.

FDM style 3D printers take alot of post work (sanding and sanding,, and more sanding).. you really have to get your printer aligned and calibrated to get good FDM prints (again this is my opinion only!) :)

As far modeling software.. there is never a right or wrong answer here.. (and has been asked many times before)

It sorta falls into price, learning curve for the user, and end use/results (more mechanical, or more organic... more for end use animation..etc)

Fusion360 is a pretty popular choice, because it has a free version* and it pretty damn capable (just a noob here to be clear, but has MANY features/options)...

But there are others that many like too TinkerCAD... Sketchup...all the way to SolidWorks
The sizes aren't too big. It's just mainly chassis, blade holders and smaller parts.

I'm still new to the types of printers. I have heard of FDM printers, are those the type of 3D printers you typically see? And what makes resin based printers the better option for the future?

I'm not afraid of learning new skills, I just need the right tools and I'll be set :)
I think I'm leaning more towards Fusion360, as I've heard a lot of good things about it and I like the features.
 

xl97

Master Member
Ender 3.. and most are what are referred to as RDM style printers.. (heated up plastic ejected through a nozzle, as the head moves around X, Y& Z axis)

I was 'this close' to buying an Ender 3 myself to be honest.. I think they took the scene by storm with their:

* Ease of set-up
* decent quality of printing right out of the box
* price (around the $200-$250+ mark)

These will ALWAYS leave you what is called 'layer lines' the better aligned your printer is.. the less POST-work.. but in my opinion.. there will ALWAYS be some sanding. priming.. more sanding....etc

RESIN printers are completely different (google watch how they work.. is kinda awesome).. however.. you are just getting into the small/average print volume.. at around the $500+ mark... (not including the UV curer/washer..etc)

However.. the quality and detail (IMHO at least) cant be beat... probably ZERO post work to be done.. (depends on your 'supports')

If the screen options were bigger and more affordable, I would think everyone would be on the RESIN band-wagon.. (the screen/displays are used to form/illuminate a 'shape' (layer) that will then solidify the liquid resin..then the build plate will move up.. the shape will change.. and another 'layer' will be solidified to your previous layer, .. eventually building your object from the VAT of liquid resin)

* Something to note, is that Fusion360 went through a HUGE change.. just days ago.. that left he community.....well.. not so supportive of the software anymore. *(the free lic version that is)..

I am under the educational lic.. so I dont believe it effected me.


Do you YouTube searching.. and watch some videos on the Elegoo MARS and the ENDER 3.. so you can see how they are different the the results one gets from each style of printer.
 

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TheJediSmuggler

New Member
Ender 3.. and most are what are referred to as RDM style printers.. (heated up plastic ejected through a nozzle, as the head moves around X, Y& Z axis)

I was 'this close' to buying an Ender 3 myself to be honest.. I think they took the scene by storm with their:

* Ease of set-up
* decent quality of printing right out of the box
* price (around the $200-$250+ mark)

These will ALWAYS leave you what is called 'layer lines' the better aligned your printer is.. the less POST-work.. but in my opinion.. there will ALWAYS be some sanding. priming.. more sanding....etc

RESIN printers are completely different (google watch how they work.. is kinda awesome).. however.. you are just getting into the small/average print volume.. at around the $500+ mark... (not including the UV curer/washer..etc)

However.. the quality and detail (IMHO at least) cant be beat... probably ZERO post work to be done.. (depends on your 'supports')

If the screen options were bigger and more affordable, I would think everyone would be on the RESIN band-wagon.. (the screen/displays are used to form/illuminate a 'shape' (layer) that will then solidify the liquid resin..then the build plate will move up.. the shape will change.. and another 'layer' will be solidified to your previous layer, .. eventually building your object from the VAT of liquid resin)

* Something to note, is that Fusion360 went through a HUGE change.. just days ago.. that left he community.....well.. not so supportive of the software anymore. *(the free lic version that is)..

I am under the educational lic.. so I dont believe it effected me.


Do you YouTube searching.. and watch some videos on the Elegoo MARS and the ENDER 3.. so you can see how they are different the the results one gets from each style of printer.
Thanks for all the info! I think I’m getting a better understanding now.

Hm, I think I know what you mean with ‘layer lines’. And sanding can be a pain at times, I can imagine calibrating FDM printers would take a lot of time and trial & error.

And what happened with Fusion360 to have brought about such a turn? And if people are starting to support it less, what are the alternatives out there?
 

xl97

Master Member
I dont want my responses to come off as 'hating' on FDM printers... :)

They have their place.. and for larger projects (unless you got lots of money) there arent many alternatives.

Myself.. I just find all the sanding and priming and sanding a turn off (but thats just me!) :) and for more smaller/detailed parts.. you cant get into ever crack and crevice to sand..etc..

I know lots of members here have BOTH.. FDM style for lager projects.. and RESIN printers for smaller detailed projects (like figurines and other
highly detailed pieces an FDM just couldnt do)

Maybe some other more experienced users in this scene will chime in? :)


Fusion360 recently (like 2 weeks ago?) changed a lot of the functionality of the free lic version...

I'm not aware of ALL the changes off the top of my head.. but exporting to different formats was highly reduced. (that can be a game changer for many,.. who import/export to other software)

As far as alternatives.. there are many, some I listed above. If you do a search on 3D software (this question has been asked many times) you might get a better list of what others use and why they like it.


I still suggest YouTube'ing the RESIN printer process... kinda fun/interesting approach.
 

TheJediSmuggler

New Member
I dont want my responses to come off as 'hating' on FDM printers... :)

They have their place.. and for larger projects (unless you got lots of money) there arent many alternatives.

Myself.. I just find all the sanding and priming and sanding a turn off (but thats just me!) :) and for more smaller/detailed parts.. you cant get into ever crack and crevice to sand..etc..

I know lots of members here have BOTH.. FDM style for lager projects.. and RESIN printers for smaller detailed projects (like figurines and other
highly detailed pieces an FDM just couldnt do)

Maybe some other more experienced users in this scene will chime in? :)


Fusion360 recently (like 2 weeks ago?) changed a lot of the functionality of the free lic version...

I'm not aware of ALL the changes off the top of my head.. but exporting to different formats was highly reduced. (that can be a game changer for many,.. who import/export to other software)

As far as alternatives.. there are many, some I listed above. If you do a search on 3D software (this question has been asked many times) you might get a better list of what others use and why they like it.


I still suggest YouTube'ing the RESIN printer process... kinda fun/interesting approach.
I see. The work I may be doing won’t be very detailed (at least at first), so I guess I could get started with an FDM printer. Sanding may be a pain, but with the right tools it may be manageable. Or I could go straight to resin based printers... I’ll have to watch some videos about both processes when I have the time.

Being able to export to less formats does suck. Even though as a beginner I may not use a lot of software, I still like to have that versatility. I think I’ll have to look at the different formats and see which are widely supported. Maybe it won’t matter much for me for the time being.

Thanks for all the tips and info! :D
 

Krats

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Just to chime in with an alternate viewpoint... :)

I think Resin is awesome, the print quality is highly desirable, and I plan to get a resin printer at some point... but although progress is being made, the print size is somewhat limiting and there is still post processing. Resin prints need to be rinsed in solvent then cured under UV. I'm also lead to believe that a lot of resin fumes are not family friendly and the fluid itself quite unpleasant.

I design and print a lot of my own models. I prototype with FDM as it is quick and relatively cheap. Once I've got a model where I want it I either spend time sanding up an FDM print or I send off my model and pay someone else to print it in resin. That way I don't have to deal with any of those nasty chemicals.

Definitely worth doing some research before you jump in, but whatever you go for it'll be fun :)
 

TheJediSmuggler

New Member
Just to chime in with an alternate viewpoint... :)

I think Resin is awesome, the print quality is highly desirable, and I plan to get a resin printer at some point... but although progress is being made, the print size is somewhat limiting and there is still post processing. Resin prints need to be rinsed in solvent then cured under UV. I'm also lead to believe that a lot of resin fumes are not family friendly and the fluid itself quite unpleasant.

I design and print a lot of my own models. I prototype with FDM as it is quick and relatively cheap. Once I've got a model where I want it I either spend time sanding up an FDM print or I send off my model and pay someone else to print it in resin. That way I don't have to deal with any of those nasty chemicals.

Definitely worth doing some research before you jump in, but whatever you go for it'll be fun :)
I see. I'm leaning more towards having an FDM-printer as my first 3D-printer, since it seems more user friendly.

Do you also happen to know what software you'd recommend? Fusion360? Or something else?
 

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xl97

Master Member
Do you have a price range?

To me.. saber parts.. (like chassis..etc) WILL be detailed parts.. (something you'll lose after post work on most FDM layer line items)

The draw back is... once you get into this world... the small print envelope will be a HUGE issue.. and you want to do bigger things all the time.

Many people here have Ender 3's, Pros and Ender 5's.. (do some searching here you;ll see lots of reviews and tips... and even printed results of their work)
 

TazMan2000

Master Member
If you're only printing sabers you can get away with a smaller FDM. Yes, its a lesser learning curve. You are going to have issues and you will figure them out, either by yourself or with the multitude of sources online. But if you ever want to print out something larger in the future, you will kick yourself that you didn't buy a large one in the first place.

Be prepared for a LOT of post processing work to ensure you get rid of layer lines. If you take care and are prepared to sand and fill a lot, you can get some incredible looking prints. But as xl97 said, sanding and filling will lessen detail. The difference between properly sanded, filled and painted parts to objects that aren't, is stark, so even though its a lot of work, it can turn something that you give your child to play with to something that can go in a display cabinet.

FDM PLA parts tend to be strong, but not indestructible. Resin printed parts usually have the durability of, well....resin. although there are some formulations that are flexible. It seems like new types of photopolymers are being invented, so there will be more choices in the future.

The learning curve for Fusion 360 (corrected - not 3D Fusion) may be high, but its all depending on how well you understand it. Some people can pick it up easy, others not. But there are many free choices out there for every skill level.

TazMan2000
 
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Krats

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Do you also happen to know what software you'd recommend? Fusion360? Or something else?

Recommending software is not straightforward as it depends not only on what you want to achieve but how you get on with the software itself. For instance Blender has an incredible feature set and people produce amazing models with it, but I never got very far with it as I was unable to get past the awkward interface. If you can tough it out and learn its work flow I suspect there’s not much you can’t achieve with it.

Fusion 360 is one I was learning, however it's fallen out of favour a bit with the recent changes. It's still good and provided you get on with it I think it may be the right choice for you if you're modelling items like lightsabers.

For my models I use Sketchup for CAD style modelling, Silo 2 for poly modelling and Sculptris for organic sculpting… but I’ve come to that after a lot of trial and error with other packages. A lot of the time what you get out of a software package is less about the features of a specific program and more about how much determination you bring to bear.
 

TheJediSmuggler

New Member
Do you have a price range?

To me.. saber parts.. (like chassis..etc) WILL be detailed parts.. (something you'll lose after post work on most FDM layer line items)

The draw back is... once you get into this world... the small print envelope will be a HUGE issue.. and you want to do bigger things all the time.

Many people here have Ender 3's, Pros and Ender 5's.. (do some searching here you;ll see lots of reviews and tips... and even printed results of their work)
My price range would be around $300 (€300, as I'm in Europe).

I have heard that the Ender printers are popular, and I have been thinking about those printers as well.

I'm sure that in the future, I'll have different types of printers. So I don't need to go all out just yet, just one to help me get the ropes. A trusted printer so to speak haha.
 

TheJediSmuggler

New Member
If you're only printing sabers you can get away with a smaller FDM. Yes, its a lesser learning curve. You are going to have issues and you will figure them out, either by yourself or with the multitude of sources online. But if you ever want to print out something larger in the future, you will kick yourself that you didn't buy a large one in the first place.

Be prepared for a LOT of post processing work to ensure you get rid of layer lines. If you take care and are prepared to sand and fill a lot, you can get some incredible looking prints. But as xl97 said, sanding and filling will lessen detail. The difference between properly sanded, filled and painted parts to objects that aren't, is stark, so even though its a lot of work, it can turn something that you give your child to play with to something that can go in a display cabinet.

FDM PLA parts tend to be strong, but not indestructible. Resin printed parts usually have the durability of, well....resin. although there are some formulations that are flexible. It seems like new types of photopolymers are being invented, so there will be more choices in the future.

The learning curve for 3D Fusion may be high, but its all depending on how well you understand it. Some people can pick it up easy, others not. But there are many free choices out there for every skill level.

TazMan2000
I see. I'll have to sit down and think about what kind of printer is best for a starter and complete beginner like myself. I think with the right resources, I learn quickly. I tend to experiment once I start to get the hang of things haha.

3D Fusion? Hm, I'll have a look at it. Thanks :)
 

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