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Life sized models and other oversized projects might seem impossible to 3D print at home. Many might assume using common sized printers (such as an Ender 3, Prusa or even smaller) would make the project impossible. In fact scaling and cutting up a file is rather easy.
All slicing programs can scale models. Certain programs can even perform basic cuts. Free modeling programs like AutoCad Meshmixer (link) can scale and cut any desired model. With additional time, pegs/keys and holes can be manually added as well. These “keys” are used to help line up multiple parts and provide additional gluing surfaces.
Luban Makes It Big
However, if you wish to create multiple extensive projects or have a smaller 3D printer, this may be cumbersome or not worth your time. If you want to quickly scale, cut and key your model Luban software might be your easiest solution. One of the software’s crucial features is scaling up models, “splitting” them and creating the connectors automatically. There are several cutting methods and multiple connector options to choose from and experiment with.
Besides splitting models for large-scale printing, Luban has other tools such as Lithopane creation, word or outline morphing, cookie cutters, 3D puzzles, mesh manipulation and a lengthy list of other modifying processes. You can check out the Luban website, and additional Inov3D articles including:
Life Sized Fanart – Harley Quinn
Recently Maskou Bou finished his 3D printed Life Sized Fanart Harley Quinn statue. A post on Facebook post caught my eye because of its size, quality and paint job. The INOV3D team reached out and I briefly interviewed him via Messenger. Below are some details about his project and gallery of his project.
Question and Answers Session
Q: Why Harley? Who made the model?
A: I love the Harley character and wanted a realistic challenge. I printed her for fun and is on display at my bakery. (Le fournil de Coëtmieux, côte d’armor, FRANCE)
A: The model was created by EllaArt. Facebook – CGTrader – Patreon
Q: Can you give us some printing details?
A: Harley was printed on my Prusa Mk3s and Anycubic Kossel, with a standard 0.4 nozzles using typical printer settings and 4 walls everywhere. Infill varied as I used 5% for the Body, Head and Arms with an increase to 15% for the Legs.
Q: Can you give us some details about the how you printed this Life Sized Fanart?
A: I modified the model with 3DBuilder to make it solid, Then using Luban I resized it 13x (1300%) and split for printing. The project required over 12kg of PLA and took a long time.
Q: Did you have a printing issue or general tips?
A: I had some printing issues and failures. Some resulted from power failures (because the Kossel does not have the resume feature). Other issues arose from print orientation.
A: I suggest you take your time to prepare your cuts. Luban cuts the model very well. However, you need to consider printing orientation to minimize supports and overall material usage.
A. Don’t be afraid of failures. (I painted Harley’s head 3 times). Nature is not perfect. Some of your printing defect can make a your figure more realistic. Printing Life-Sized Models is a challenge not a nightmare. Make your model unique with your own hands and personal touch.
Q: Can you tell us about how you prepared for and painted your statue?
A: For preparation, the model was hand sanded many times. Spray and paste putty were also used to smooth out the layers lines and most of the printing artifacts. I painted Harley using an airbrush, paint brush and my fingers. The paints used were Vallejo and Pebeo. Many colors were custom blended, which I enjoy doing. I used my Sparmax airbrush and paint brushes from Raphael (made in my town). I used Soloplast for post-treatment.
Q: Do you have videos or social sites where you shared your progress?
A: No, I don’t have any videos. I took some pictures during the process. This is just a fun hobby for me. So far I have only shared my project on Facebook (link).
NOTE: The Q&A session has been edited for flow and to adjust for language translations.
Here is a picture gallery showing Maskou Bou’s Harley Quinn project. BTW: This project is currently featured on Luban’s front page. Enjoy the gallery.
Print Your Own Large Model And Plan
Are you inspired and motivated to print your own Life-Sized Model? If you are that is great! As you plan your giant project, take some time and prepare for the task. I have envisioned printing several large figures myself. However, I realize this project may not be a piece of cake. Do not be discouraged! Refer to some points below.
- Model – This should be simple and step one. What Life-Sized model do you want to display? Be sure to choose a top quality model that will scale up well.
- Time – Don’t rush, this will be multiple marathons, not a sprint. TIP: Smaller layer lines will improve your surface quality AND increase print time.
- Plastic – You will need significantly more plastic compared to a typical 1:6 / 300 mm / 12 inch figure. Layout your pieces; Slice them; Add up the estimated material; Break open your piggy bank and purchase extra.
- Cost – Plastic FDM filament prices are rather high in the middle of 2020.
- Machines – Is your 3D printer dialed in and in good Shape? Level Bed? First Layer Adhesion? Have spare nozzles and a cleaning kit?
- Failures – Be prepared! – Be glad you ordered that extra material.
- Sanding, Priming, Gaps & Repairs – There will be MANY large pieces with layer lines and defects to repair. Consider automotive resin, filler primer, spray paint, sand blasting and other methods. You probably will want smooth surfaces with no visible layer lines.
- Seams – Using a 3D Printer Pen is an additional method besides resins and putties to fill in the gaps between pieces.
- Joints – Do some research and decide how you want to glue the large pieces together. Slower epoxies are an option. Using a heat gun around the seams can also help close the gap and create strong plastic bonds.
- Painting – Are you up to the task? Know a painter? Have the supplies? Remember, it’s your project. Paint it how you want it.
- Storage – Do you have somewhere to keep all the pieces? Where are you going to display the finished project?
- Displaying – Early on make sure the figure will be able to stand up. Have a sufficient base and/or extra weight added to the lower pieces. Consider concrete filled shoes. Metal pipes or threaded rods thru pegs/holes can strengthen joints.
- REMINDER: Storing PLA in direct sunlight and heat is NOT an excellent idea.
More Tips and Suggestions
Beyond proper planning and a brilliant model, here are some ideas to improve your Life Sized Model projects and 3D printing. However, several machine modifications and upgrades will be listed below, none of them are required for successful prints. If you are new to 3D printing master, you machine before you excessively change it.
- Nozzle – Larger nozzle diameter allows for thicker walls and layer heights
- Hot-End Upgrade – A V6 Volcano and other setups allow for faster and better material heating, especially with larger diameter nozzles
- Cooling – Thicker and faster printing can be improved with better material and/or heat-sink cooling – There may be multiple options available for your machine and fan preferences
Printer Considerations and Add-ons
- Larger – A bigger print volume requires fewer pieces, joints, filing, sanding, etc
- Run-out Sensor – A filament sensor will pause your print and allow you to change filament rolls or deal with breakages. Many machines now include sensors from the factory of which can easily be updated. Basic printers may require a main board upgrade which can be inexpensive.
- Resume – Some machine’s firmware have built in RESUME-AFTER-POWER-LOSS features.
- Power Backup – Adding a power backup battery is an inexpensive way to reduce headaches from power loss or fluctuations
- Silent – Reducing the operating volume of your printer can be a blessing when operating non-stop. Many newer printers have quieter motor drivers, however, some can be easily upgraded. Another benefit of upgrading your main board is using the quieter drivers. Cooling and power supply fans are another source of background noise of which most can be replaced easily. Most will require some basic soldering or assembling connectors.
- Drafts – Not every printer or material needs to be fully enclosed. However, reducing drafts will reduce quality variations with more consistent temperatures.
- Remote Control and Viewing – Devices like a raspberry pi with a camera can be setup to control, monitor and stop a print job. Who wants to come home after work and see a giant pile of plastic spaghetti? Newer developments also allow integration of Run-out Sensors.
- Quality – Buy material brands/colors whose quality you trust. Consider buying enough so your entire project uses the same plastic. This will increase quality and efficiency since you will not need to make slicer modifications for every new filament roll
- Bigger – Consider buying larger rolls of material (i.e. 2kg, 5kg, 10kg, etc). This will reduce the chance of running out during a print and keep quality consistent.
- Slicing – Balance wall thickness with minimal infill to save material and print time. I suggest thicker walls as you print larger items. Infill may need to vary for each part.
Model Choice and Prep Work
- Subject – pick a model you love (or will be able to sell if that’s your plan)
- Designed Scale – Considered models that were intended for larger prints. Printing something designed as a miniature may not have enough details when scaled up from 1 inch to 6 feet.
- Test Print – Make a smaller copy to verify the quality, highlight areas of concern and to take photos for side-by-side size comparisons
- Solid vs. Pre-Cut – Since you will create custom cuts (manually or with Luban), start with a solid uncut model. Some artists may provide you a solid copy by default, or if you ask for one.
- Weight and Strength – Plan for adding weight to the base/lower half and overall stability. Drilled holes can add concrete and other materials. Metal rods or PVC tubes can be added at joints or throughout the model.
- Heat Gun – Great for string removal, minor plastic bending, paint drying, etc
- Rotary Tool – Dremel style tools have endless uses for all projects and hobbies
- 3D Pen – Often used to make minor repairs, fill gaps and assist with smaller joints
- Larger Spatula – Depending on you bed type and adhesion, you might want a giant spatula instead of the tiny one shipped with you printer
- Liquid Resin & UV Light – Like the 3D pen, UV cured resin can fill gaps on all project sizes
As you can see 3D printing of Large models and all projects can lead to many modifications and purchases for your hobby or business. Prices and difficult level will vary. Take your time and enjoy your models.
Additional Large Sized Prints
Besides Life-Sized Models, there are many other projects you might print full size. You might consider a wide variety of things.
- Cosplay – Armor, Masks, Weapons, etc – DOD3D (link) makes a variety of sets
- Masks – For Display, fancy parties, Halloween, decorative face masks (health, dust, paint, etc)
- Functional or Educational – Engines, Skeletons, Anatomy, etc
- Figure Busts – Not a full body but they will be large
- Giant Sized Toys – Silly perhaps, but fun – Check out this video from Matt Denton
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