Makerbotting beavers

A while back, I started modeling a 3D beaver. No – this wasn’t the beaver I modeled for my animation “Big Rat” at least 5 years ago, this is a more recent one. In fact, after I had fun printing Suzanne, I had so much fun I decided I would print a beaver next.

Unfinished Makerbot beaver

Whoops. Wrong picture. It does, however, show you what goes on inside a 3D printed beaver, for those unfamiliar with Makerbot’s honeycombing.

Makerbot beaver print

… and …

Makerbot beaver print

Modeled in Blender, printed with white translucent ABS plastic. You might notice it’s always propped up with something – I got the center of mass wrong, so it has a mischievous habit of falling on its face. It seems to be one of those objects which look nicer in real life than in a photograph – perhaps because of the translucency of the plastic.

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  1. Very nice. How do you judge centre of gravity when actually modelling, though? Are there any extensions to Blender which can calculate centre of gravity and such things?

  2. I don’t know of a way to judge center of gravity when actually modeling, but you can run your mesh in blender’s game engine and see if it topples over there :)

  3. Ah yes, that’s a good way for a rough estimate. Though I’m sure it would not properly account for distribution of weight of materials used.

  4. This is soooo cool!! How does it work? I’ve only read about 3D Printing, yet to see a printer or a printed product :D Can you print just about anything with it?

  5. There are a few types of 3D printing techniques around, and each can print certain things better than others.

    The one used for the beaver was a standard Makerbot: good for printing cheaply (think of it as a hobbyist printer). It works by melting a layer of thin plastic off plastic wire coiled around a spool which feeds it.

    For this reason, it is limited in terms of colours (I have seen a replicator, which can print two colours). It also cannot print very large objects (the plastic will harden before the next layer can be put, causing splits). It also means it is expensive to print overhanging shapes, as scaffolding needs to be built. Given that it layers the plastic wire, it also creates a slightly grooved texture, so depending on the orientation this can create some nasty finishes (such as dipping wires due to melted plastic).

  6. I am looking for an HO scale 1:87 size beaver for my train layout. Your guy is perfect!!! Nice work. Would you be able to make me one and what would it cost?
    Many thanks,

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