Wednesday, March 19, 2014

3D Printing for Dummies - Or How I Learned How to Order on Shapeways

Blue Neo-Ego
This is about all I can
get him to do.
I'm a sucker for technology, I love following the latest and greatest gadgets and tech.  3D Printing is something that I've been following for a long, long time, and I'm please to say I finally dropped a dime and ordered my own 3D prints of existing models from Shapeways, the biggest 3D printing company in the world.

I had lurked on their forums long enough and seen all the really cool things that Shapeways can do for an intrepid CAD modeler.  I have ZERO CAD skills whatsoever, and no inclination to start learning, but what I do have is an endless fascination with miniatures and toys, and Shapeways is a place to satisfy that fascination.

Mr. Red Neo-Ego can pose
For my first foray I went ahead and ordered two different versions of a miniature articulated figure, not unlike a Lego Mini-Fig.  The first was this one: Cool Ego and Neo-Ego.  These babies aren't cheap, they run between $6-8 per figure, and shipping is a flat $6.30 per order.  I decided to order four figures to minimize shipping costs.  After a couple of weeks I got two of my four figures, the Cool Ego was not printed and cancelled.  The Neo-Egos printed fine and after a bit of difficulty I got them put together.

Or just stand there
The Neo-Ego is not great, I have to say.  The articulation isn't quite as nice as I'd hope (though it's still better than Lego) and the tightness of the figures fit is very hit and miss.  The red figure is pretty stiff and will hold a pose, while the blue figure is completely loose and can't pose for beans.

Needless to say I wasn't that thrilled with the fact that they cancelled half of my order and my shipping discount was basically blown.  I actually decided to call Shapeways and ask about the shipping once the creator of the Cool Ego figures rejiggered his model to print properly.  They actually gave me a credit for the shipping and even though the remodeled figures were slightly more expensive, I made a second order.

Ms. Blue Cool-Ego
Ms. Red Cool-Ego, though
you can't tell she has a face
Cool Ego is light years ahead of the Neo Ego.  There's two head-sculpts included, and the portrait is actually quite nice.  The articulation is really well done and the pieces fit together tightly and hold their pose.  The only difficulty is that putting it together can be a real drag.  The plastic that is printed is not "smooth and polished" like they advertise on the site. It's quite rough, though the roughness makes the small details really pop up close.  I do believe the heads can hold standard Lego head-gear and the hands are standard Lego clips.  The Cool-Ego has wrist swivels, while the Neo-Ego does not.

I haven't tried any of the other plastics available but I'd like to do so in the near future.  I bet a clear version of these guys would be really cool looking.  I'd love to get a full sized 1/18th scale figure printed but I don't see any viable candidates at the moment.
Blue Cool-Ego, Vintage Lego Mini-Fig, Red Neo-Ego

They fit in a golf-ball cube
Looking Good There Guys

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