Sci-Fi modeling on Elegoo Mars -- Community support/tips

Hunk a Junk

Sr Member
Since several RPFers are buying Elegoo Mars 3D resin printers (mine comes at the end of the month), and we begin printing replacement parts, detail pieces, and even small sci-fi kits, it may be time for a community support and tip thread.

As I've recently mentioned in the Bandai discussion thread, I think 3D printing is revolutionizing how we sci-fi modelers are going to be making our kits from now on and I'd like to share as much information with each other as possible to make it successful for everyone. This technology is only going to improve and I'd like to see us at the cutting edge of making even more accurate and detailed models. The better WE get at this, the more pressure kit manufacturers will feel to up their game and improve THEIR products (at least that's the hope).

Let me say this: I'm a complete novice at 3D printing and I'm not a technology gearhead. I chose the Elegoo Mars for the low cost and the high level of detail on the printed pieces. I looked at FDM printers like the Ender-3 because the build platforms are nice and big, but decided on the Mars despite a much smaller build area because the higher level of detail and I didn't want to be spending all my time sanding build lines on my printed objects. For me, the steepest learning curve will be making the 3D models and the slicing software. I've started dabbling on FreeCad, but if someone can recommend a better program I'm all ears (I use a MacBook Pro).

I'm also hoping we can use this thread as a community resource for specific 3D files we're willing to share or maybe sell to each other since we are often all building the same kits (Falcons, Enterprises, Jupiter 2s, etc.). Files for common donor kit greeblies, for example. I'm not sure how people feel about this since there's always the danger of someone being a digital recaster (redigicaster?) and stealing someone's file to sell prints on eBay or Shapeways. Obviously, we should encourage people to monetize their hard work, but I also think there is value as artists when we openly share certain things with the understanding its for personal use. My philosophy is that we all get better when we all get better.

Like I said, my Mars (the non Pro version) comes at the end of the month (Happy birthday to ME!) with a bottle of standard gray resin to start. I also purchased a UV curing light with a rotating platform to cure my finished pieces. For those who already have one, any out of the box tips and recommendations to get things started?
 

Hunk a Junk

Sr Member
For a good 3D modeling program, I use Fusion 360. There’s a free version for hobbyists, I think. You’d have to take some time to find it, but it’s worth it. It’s not an incredibly steep learning curve, and it gives good results.
Thanks! I'll check it out.
 

StevenBills

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I got my Mars around Christmas, and I quickly found out that ChituBox (the slicing software that comes with it) is pretty bad at adding supports to models. It usually WAY overdoes it. Upon doing some research, I found that most people use PrusaSlicer to add the supports to the model, and then import THAT into ChituBox for slicing. It does a waaaaay better job. Anyway.

SB
 

nkg

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Do you want to keep this specifically focused on the Elegoo product? Or make it a bit more general - home-based resin printers? Since all resin printers have somewhat similar issues, and are certainly quite different from the issues suffered by filament-based printers. (ie: filament users are always complaining about nozzle temperatures and printers going wrong yielding huge piles of fine spaghetti)
 

Jedi Dade

Sr Member
So I have gotten my Mars printer - and I just picked up a large volume FDM printer and am about to go on this journey with you! I've been researching slicers at the moment and from what I have read I think I'm going to try "Cura". its supposed to be easy to use and have enough controls to tweak that it reliable produces good results... But that has not been proven by me at least - just internet research. Supposedly there are Optimal settings for each printer... I guess some experimentation is in order...

That being said I also think that the 3D printing is the way forward for this hobby - at least in the area of detail parts. Printing an entire enterprise seems crazy to me - but printing all the detail parts seems to make tones of sense to me. with the large volume printer I just got I was thinking it would be great to make substructures and frameworks that could be sheeted in styrene for further detailing. Something like the DeAgostini frame inside the Falcon - that all the hull gets attached to... then detailed out with prints form the Mars... anyway thats about 1000 miles down the road. now I just need to figure out how the darn thing works and print a few basic things to get my feet wet.

Jedi Dade
 

Hunk a Junk

Sr Member
Do you want to keep this specifically focused on the Elegoo product? Or make it a bit more general - home-based resin printers? Since all resin printers have somewhat similar issues, and are certainly quite different from the issues suffered by filament-based printers. (ie: filament users are always complaining about nozzle temperatures and printers going wrong yielding huge piles of fine spaghetti)
I think any advice/suggestions about resin printing in general is terrific. You're right that filament printers have different parameters to discuss, so maybe we stick closer to resin printing. I selfishly focused on the Mars since that's the one I bought and know a few others have recently started using. Advice here abut modeling and slicing will likely be applicable to many different brands.
 

Jaitea

Master Member
Great thread Hunk a Junk, I do a bit of 3d animation in work, but its usually logos & set design stuff, so I know a bit, but not enough about digital modelling, I use Maxon Cinema 4D, Pretty straight forward & theres loads of YouTube tutorials

I got Chitubox slicing software with the Elegoo Mars,....& had it sussed really quickly,....again theres YouTube videos,...but honestly you don't really need them

Like Jedi Dade & yourself Hunk a Junk I looked at the FDM printers, & really I'd love to have one as well,....that concept Falcon started out fine with the dimensions, but as I went on there were parts that that were off & I had to go back & strip parts,....an FDM printer would be excellent for building the inner structures like JD said,....& Elegoo Mars to be used for greeblies

This is an excellent time, & I'm not selfish, I'll share whatever I find,...as long as folks don't plan to make money with it

John
 

Hunk a Junk

Sr Member
That being said I also think that the 3D printing is the way forward for this hobby - at least in the area of detail parts. Printing an entire enterprise seems crazy to me - but printing all the detail parts seems to make tones of sense to me.

Jedi Dade
Absolutely. No one is going to print a 1/350 Enterprise saucer hull any time soon, but on my current refit build I spent the better part of a week scratch building a new impulse engine and kept imagining how cool it would be to design and print one instead.
 

Hunk a Junk

Sr Member
I just downloaded the free version of Fusion 360, so I'll play with that and report my thoughts. Some of the tutorials on FreeCAD go a little fast for me and the instructors have reconfigured their settings so the controls don't always match mine. I'm a simple man. I need things dumbed down considerably!
 

Hunk a Junk

Sr Member
Briefly on the subject of monetizing, my hope is that as we help each other get better with this technology we will also support and encourage each other when people choose to sell their files or creations. I'm happy to share some designs with others on the understanding that they won't turn around and try to sell it as their own. If someone learns things here and then wants to put the effort into starting a side hustle to sell their own files or parts, go for it! I think most people here get that.
 

Jaitea

Master Member
I got my Mars around Christmas, and I quickly found out that ChituBox (the slicing software that comes with it) is pretty bad at adding supports to models. It usually WAY overdoes it. Upon doing some research, I found that most people use PrusaSlicer to add the supports to the model, and then import THAT into ChituBox for slicing. It does a waaaaay better job. Anyway.

SB
I'll check PrusaSlicer out, thanks StevenBills

J
 

basementdweller

Active Member
CAD work
Fuson 360 all the way. It has all the advanced tools you could need and even a built in slicer. You can also design sheet bending stuff. You can also do your machining setup if you have a CNC mill. THe most powerful aspect with this software is the parametric modelling and the ability to do FEM analysis. Free for hobbyists up to $1000 a year. You can also get a free license as a small business if you earn less than $100.000 a year, but you now have to jump some hoops to get this approved.

FreeCad - Open source and quite capable, but not as big as Fusion.

Polygon modelling
Blender. Free open source software that is quickly becoming more mainstream in the movie business. This type of modelling is more akin to a freehand style. This I think is the better choice for any kind of modelling that is purely industrial design rather than functional.

Sculpting software
Z-brush is the industry standard, but it's not free.
Sculptris is the free precursor to z-brush, but now dated. Still a lot of people use it in their sculpting pipeline and then finish the model in other software.
SculptGL is a free online version. By all means give it a try.
Blender has a fully fleshed out and advanced sculpting tool as well, but can be a bit more taxing on your rig.
A pen tablet is definitely recommended for this or it's truly like pissing against the wind.

Editing
Meshmixer is a really handy free tool that lets you basically kitbash digitally. It also has the general sculpting tools and a very hand tree support generator. You can orientate models according to if you value strength the most or as little supports as possible. This type of support is great for printing figures on FDM printers.

Slicers
Chitubox for resin prints.
Prusaslicer for both resin and FDM. In my opinion it's currently the most capable and free slicer that has one of the biggest innovators in 3D printing constantly developing it.
Cura - You can't go wrong with Cura either.

Resources
Lars Christensen on youtube for Fusion 360, but not for 3D-printing.
Grant Abbitt for learning to sculpt in Blender.
Prusas videos and articles are pretty good lite resources for 3D printing in general and also 3D scanning.
CNC-Kitchen for 3D-printing science type stuff (understanding materials and settings and design philosphies).
3DPrintingPro is the most hands on for resin printing setup and slicing.

Forums
reddit is a pretty good place with a lot of printer specific subforums. The following are more mainstream and pretty good places to both find answers, news and STUFF.
r/3dprinting
r/printedminis (lots of sculptors and links to find cool models and patreon subscriptions). It's a bit more geared towards figures, but you'll find other stuff too.

Models
Thingiverse might well be the biggest repository of files, but it's not always reliable. Seems to working better currently.
Myminifactory
CGtrader
Gambody (This truly is the equivalent of Garage Kits in the 3D printing world). You will find a ton of movie and game related material. Some stuff is good but there is also some crappy stuff. Basically it's a storefront for sculptors to sell their work and Gambody takes a cut.
Sanix3D for Movie related figures
Nikko Industries for Props

The best way to find what you are looking for is to use a search engine and add ".stl" or ".obj" to your term and click the image tab. I find that yields the better and faster results if you need something specific. A lot of unlicensed stuff has the funny naming conventions and you just have to be part of a community or forum to know or search "collections" on thingiverse.

Have at it :)
 

xeno

Sr Member
On the subject of slicers and support, There is no slicer at the moment that does perfect support.
But what a lot seem to forget about support, is that it is not just to hold the object to the buildplate and not have non supported islands that fall into the vat.

With resin printers there is the chance of deformation of surfaces if not enough support material is done, and thin printed surfaces get floppy while printing and deform the whole surface, this can bee seen around the support contact surface.

Just remember that support is way more easy to remove, and any leftovers easily sanded :)

sanding-stage-1.jpg
 
Last edited:

basementdweller

Active Member
Briefly on the subject of monetizing, my hope is that as we help each other get better with this technology we will also support and encourage each other when people choose to sell their files or creations. I'm happy to share some designs with others on the understanding that they won't turn around and try to sell it as their own. If someone learns things here and then wants to put the effort into starting a side hustle to sell their own files or parts, go for it! I think most people here get that.
I truly encourage you to check out r/PrintedMinis and check out some of the people that use Patreon as their platform of choice. I wrote about it in the other thread. It works exceptionally well with a cheap subscription and individual files for sale on gumroad, CGtrader and myminifactory. Check out Titan Forge that started out with traditional physical prints and are successfully selling digital. Piracy is not so much an issue given the added benefits of being part of the community that you won't get just consuming the files alone. You might find some odd stuff being sold on etsy and ali express, but it does not really cut into their business.

I think with a smaller outfit and less steady stream of files it will be a different story. Props and garage kits might be a harder thing? There are some nice Statue patreon people too. Getting ahead of the crowd and posting on the big forums to make your stuff known as yours and that your stuff holds a high quality is the best way to motivate people. If your stuff is good I will pay so that you make more. That is the mindset that works in this sphere at least. Most people respect work and those that don't never will unfortunately.

The patreon crowd has a monthly set on the "sync" platform that is password protected. Other than that there is not much in the way of copy protection. Recently there was an instance of someone elses sculpt being used as a base and the members caught it and called it out. Everythign was worked out so I do trust that people are inherently (mostly) good and honest.
The best thing I can think of is to include internal details or something that clearly marks the object with something that is distinctly yours. I doubt that will hinder piracy, but hopefully people that see and like it will seek you out and buy it from you.
 

TazMan2000

Master Member
There is a bit of a learning curve for the aforementioned free (and paid for) software. I'm surprised nobody mentioned TinkerCad. It is a very simple online modelling tool from AutoDesk. The interface is simple and you need very little instruction, if any, on how to make simple models on it.
It's not great for organic modelling but for simple mechanical modelling it gets the job done. I'm getting better on Blender, but I always seem to go back to TinkerCad for most of my needs. Great for newbies. You can import STLs, OBJs and SVGs.

Browning M2HB Cocking Plate.PNG


TazMan2000
 

skiffy

Sr Member
I've been doing filament printing for a few years and recently got an Elegoo Mars too - so I'll be happy to chip in here when I can.
I've used Blender for a lot of years (and Maya before that) so I get by with that for most of my modelling needs.

Regarding resin printing, I've found the following useful (in my very limited experience):
Find a large sealable container to keep your washing alcohol in and leave it in the light - any resin left in there will clump so you can fish it out and keep using the same alcohol.
Buy a gel nail curing UV oven to cure your prints in. You can time the exposure and they only cost 25 bucks or so.
Remove as much support as you can before you cure the resin prints.
Get used to hollowing your larger pieces but don't forget to add drain holes and internal support.

For more experienced resin guys - if there's anything you disagree with here please call it out! I'm learning as I go. :)
 

Riceball

Master Member
Regarding modelling software. Is there any good, preferably free, photogrammetry software that works well for 3D printing? I figure that would be handy for replicating something you already have/made previously and would like to remake or make modifications to.
 

Hunk a Junk

Sr Member
Really REALLY useful information, folks! Stuff I never would've thought about. Drain holes in hollow prints??? Never would've had a clue.
 
Top