This weeks Designer Spotlight focuses on David Yale, whose futile search for scale miniatures led him to design his own.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you?

I am an Attorney by day, 3D designer by night, living in Waterbury, Connecticut. I am 52 years old, and have had an interest in computers and emerging technology since the 80’s. I have been investigating 3D design and printing for about 5 months now.

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you? 
I started becoming involved with 3D printing in early 2013.  I had re-started a hobby I enjoyed as a teenager, model railroading.  I joined a model railroad club, Valley Ho Trak where each member did a four foot module using standard design specifications and joined them together at shows to make a large set up. I decided I wanted some detail inside my buildings.  My club models all their trains in HO scale, 1/87th life size.  I looked around and found there are some really nice cast metal details, but the cost was very high.  There is also a little bit of doll house furniture available, but the size wasn’t really right.  So I kept looking. Eventually I hit upon 3D printing.  I was looking on a site called Shapeways, and I saw some really nicely done N scale (1/160 life size) passenger cars from the post civil war time frame. I decided if they could do it maybe I could, too. When I hit the site it was the tutorials that sold me, and the good reputation Shapeways had when I searched on user’s ratings for the service.

How did you learn how to design in 3D?
I started with Shapeways’ tutorials, then took advatage of the active Sketchup community, and have been slowly learning Blender.  I have found that almost every question or problem I have run into has already been answered, and I have benefited greatly from the people who have already gone through the learning curve ahead of me.
How do you promote your work?

My model railroading club sets up at about 12 shows a year.  I have found many opportunities to talk about 3D printing and the advancement in the technology to a group of people who mostly have not realized its potential.  Most people are amazed when I show them what is possible.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
I am waiting for two things slightly better resolution, so I can get fingers on 1/87 inch figures, and the ability to print detailed parts in full color.  I can’t wait until I print a figure 7/8 of an inch tall in full color, with decent resolution – 300DPI should do it.

Check out Dave’s tiny furniture on his Shapeways Shop, or his website. And if you’d like to be our next featured designer, email