Category Archives: Miniatures

Creating Ultra-Detailed Bricks in 1:220 Scale

Walter Smith of Walt’s Trains and Things recently shared some incredible scale models in the Model Train Thread in the Shapeways forums.

Beginning with simple block forms like those shown below (courtesy Stony Smith), Walter evolved his design, achieving some amazing results.

Starting point:

Walter started with simple structures like those pictured above. He then cut out windows and doors, before moving on to adding details like bricks. That’s when experimentation and ingenuity came into play. The cost of printing the design was rising, so, in order to save on material costs, he cut the thickness of his main walls in half. He then added the bricks, ensuring he’d met the minimum wall thickness. The bricks are standard-sized bricks, scaled down to 1:220 (Z) scale. The results are stunning.

After design iterations:

Thanks for sharing your amazing work with the community, Walter! Make sure to check out Walter’s shop for hundreds of detailed Z scale models.

If you have a project you’d like us to feature on the blog, or any questions for Walter, let us know in the comments!

Designer Spotlight: Sonia Verdu

Shapeways designer Sonia Verdu hails from Madrid, Spain – and she embodies the creativity of the city she calls home. “I was born in a very creative and not too conventional-minded family,” Sonia told us, adding, “I think this helped me follow heart rather than my head.” Her Shapeways shop captures that spirit, with designs that run the gamut from an intricate star-shaped locket to a series of adorable phone stands to fully articulated doll and robot figurines. We talked with Sonia about how she got started, and what inspires her.

How did you learn to design in 3D?
I’ve always liked sculpting and painting, and although I did not see many career opportunities in the world of art, I decided to get a Bachelor of Arts at university and study Artistic Ceramics in an art school. I learned digital modeling in 3D mainly on my own. At university I learned only traditional techniques of painting and sculpting, as I considered it very important to have that base. Later, I worked as a designer, and since I was really interested in digital modeling, I started to watch tutorials on the internet and fell in love with Blender, a professional-grade, open source software. I’m still learning to model with this program and I think I still have a lot to learn. 

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
A friend, Gianluca Owen, an expert in 3D printing, suggested it. I listened to him and started to share my designs here. I think this is a fantastic website where you can find a huge number of interesting designs, and it’s a great source of inspiration – besides having the possibility to test different materials to print my designs.

In terms of who has served as an inspiration, well, this question is very difficult to answer because there are many designs that inspire me. Some of the designers are Brian Chan, Nervous System, and Rustylab.

Your smartphone holders are adorable. How did you come to that idea?
My idea was to create several mobile holders in the shape of animals, that were cute and childish and at the same time very simple.

What inspired the two tiny robots in your shop?
The idea of designing these robots came up after designing toys for my children. I wanted to create cute robots and, like the above mobile holders, with a childish appearance and rounded corners.

Lantea the Jointed Doll is incredibly well-designed. Was it a challenge having to keep assembly in mind when designing for that model?
Yes, Lantea was a great challenge for me and, although it took me a long time for the complexity of the assembly, it was a lot of fun. Besides, in every new design of a jointed doll I learn new things, and that encourages me to do more and more.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
Since I left university, I’ve had in mind the idea of making sculptures and combining them with water, and I believe 3D printing could be a great tool for this project. I would like to make it come true someday.

We hope Sonia does realize her dream of multimedia 3D printed sculptures. We’ll make sure to share them when she does. Do you have a project you’d like us to showcase? Leave a comment below!

Celebrating Stony Smith’s 7000th Item Sold!

One of my favorite things about Shapeways is the way our community grows organically around the diverse passions of our designers. One of those passions, model railroads, is the source of one of our biggest success stories. Stony Smith, the creator of amazingly detailed model trains and other miniatures, is celebrating his 7000th item sold.

To show his gratitude for the milestone, Stony is giving $25 to the buyer of his Z Scale Bobber Caboose, the sale that took him over the 7k mark.

The 7000th item sold in Stony Smith’s shop

Learn how Stony got there in our recent feature where he revealed the secrets to his success.

Have you achieved a milestone or goal with your Shapeways shop? Let us know in the comments below!

Is There Anything This Designer CAN’T Make?

Fashion has always been a rich breeding ground for design innovation, and 3D printing has ushered in new ways of creating for designers from every discipline. Rarely, however, do we see a single designer whose work spans fashion, industrial design, miniatures, and much more. Bilal Khan of BMK Design, whose Shapeways shop reveals only one facet of his incredible range, let us in on a groundbreaking jewelry project that he completed for his client TooShoes. Using Shapeways to iterate and test his design, Bilal developed a gorgeous, elegant shoe adornment designed to withstand daily wear — and turn simple pumps into statement-making, one-of-a-kind footwear. For a glimpse inside the mind of a truly versatile designer, read the full interview below.

Heel jewelry created for TooShoos

Heel jewelry created for TooShoos

In your Shapeways shop, you focus on amazing figurines. Normally, we don’t see designers cross over from fantasy characters to jewelry, so I’m particularly interested in how you came to design the gorgeous heel jewelry you shared with us. Outside of Shapeways, do you focus on jewelry design?

I’m basically a design enthusiast with experience in varying design fields and contrasting skill sets as far as modeling tools and design methodologies are concerned. By profession, I’m a mechanical engineer, and I’ve been independently developing products for clients for the past four years. My urge for design — and being inspired by all types of designers — from digital sculptors to industrial designers and fashion designers, led me to learn and develop skill sets away from my core expertise. To date, I’ve developed products in consumer, mechanical equipment, automotive, medical, fashion, and footwear. I also spend time developing interior designs for building spaces and front end web designing.

One heel jewelry option, designed for TooShoos

One heel jewelry option, designed for TooShoos

The Shop

I have been blessed to have been introduced to these varying fields by my clients for whom I take the challenge of developing these novel products in various segments. The miniatures you saw at my shop were the result of an offshoot of the skills I developed while creating board game miniatures for my client. But, I did not want to stop at just that project and decided to enhance my skills and extend it to the physical desktop toys that you see at my shop.

Jewelry for Heels

Similarly, this jewelry design project regarding heels was also a brainchild of my client who did not know how to approach it to make a complete working product out of the idea. I was eventually able to design this latching mechanism with a clamping, modular jewel holding option. The process of developing the product required some engineering, loads of brainstorming, and a few iterations of prototypes to perfect the fit. Obviously, the prototyping was possible because of Shapeways. I printed most of the prototypes, developed during the project, from Shapeways, and for the final piece, we produced the product with gold-plated brass from Shapeways.

From TheBMKdesign.com

From TheBMKdesign.com

Focus on personal jewelry designs

In the past I’ve developed jewelry for my family and friends. I’m currently working on developing my line of jewelry focusing on Mughal and traditional styles alongside contemporary and modern art pieces. You can find a few pieces on my website, though they’re still a work in progress. When it’s ready, you’ll see these and many other designs up on my shop at Shapeways.

A gorgeous work in progress

A gorgeous work in progress

Tell us a bit about the heel jewelry you designed. This seems like a completely novel way to approach shoe adornment, but it’s also lovely, practical, and feels like a natural evolution in footwear accessories. How did you come to the idea?

Indeed it is. To be honest, the idea was brainchild of my client. My part of the job was to make it real and develop a mechanism that would work and yet be aesthetically pleasing. Initially the client wanted a single piece of jewelry that somehow clings on to the heel and the embellishment can give a new look to the shoe every time. The real task was to make sure that the latching mechanism clings on to the heel somehow having minimum visibility of the latching mechanism and maximum visibility to the jewel, keep the cost low and make it durable.

After critical design analysis, I realized that the best way to cling to the heel would be via the bottom, other approaches considered included a Velcro based approach that basically hugged the heel just like a cloth would but that and a few other options were quickly disregarded because of lack of durability and ruggedness. Eventually we decided to go for a metal approach, where the jewel and the latching base were both made out of metal.

I also realized that making the product modular would save our customers cost and would provide the same effective product. This was the reason why the jewel and the base latch were developed as separate components.

A brief on the development process can be found here.

Now, these designs are on the shelves at TooShoos, a UK-based jewelry company. Being a designer of the product, it gives me great sense of achievement that my client was able to generate a business through the product.

A heel jewelry attachment designed for TooShoos

A heel jewelry attachment designed for TooShoos

What’s next for you? Any other projects you’d like to share?

There are loads of ideas and personal projects I am working on in parallel. One of my upcoming lines is called pencil heads. I will be featuring those on my Shapeways shop too. These are cute little animals (coated full color sandstone) which would act both as a paperweight and a pencil head. I have already ordered them from Shapeways and as soon as I receive them and complete my tests they will be up for grabs at my shop.

Another project is a tool for craftsmen and armatures alike called happy thumbs, it will also be up for grabs on Shapeways soon.

The upcoming Pencil Heads project

The upcoming Pencil Heads project

Thanks for letting us in on your design process, Bilal! If you’ve worked on an amazing product you’d like to share, or have any questions for Bilal, make sure to leave a comment below.

How to Turn Your Hobby into 7000 Items Sold

Grant 4-4-0 Metal - Zscale by Stony Smith Designs

Grant 4-4-0 Metal – Zscale by Stony Smith Designs

What do you doodle on the margins of your notes? Stay up late reading about online? Build communities around? Whatever it is, chances are you have something 3-dimensional to contribute to it.

For Stony Smith, who just sold his 7,000th scale model railroad accessory on Shapeways (!!), the seeds of that hobby were planted early on. His parents “were both very crafty, and very strongly into Do It Yourself,” he told us. Today, Smith is a uniquely Shapeways kind of success story – one that proves that, with the right tools, an individual’s hobby can end up enriching a whole community.

As we celebrate his 7000th sale, we thought it was a great time to ask him about the secrets of his success. Take note!

Start With What You Love, and Make It Better

Stony Smith took his love of drawing, combined it with his love of architecture, and then, went 3D. “I’ve worked with 3D design/drawing since 1974, but it was always limited to just 2D renders until 3D printing came along. In 2008, I started building a Zscale (1:220), but I found that the choices for buildings in that scale are extremely limited. I fumbled for a good while with trying to make paper model buildings. Sometime in 2009, I read about Shapeways on the HackADay.com website, and thought, ‘I wonder if 3d printing would work?’ I built a model [of a house], uploaded it, and received a ‘Manifold Error’ message. After several misdirections, I redrew the house using OpenSCAD, and poof! It worked!” OpenSCAD is a great way to create 3D models if you have some programming experience, or have zero 3D modeling experience. Learn more here.

The real-life house that inspired Stony's first 3D printed design

The real-life house that inspired Stony’s first 3D printed design

Get to Know Your Community, and Follow Their Lead

Stony was immersed in a community of makers who all loved scale models, and who challenged each other to create and innovate. “Since 2008 I’ve participated in a forum of fellow ‘Z-heads’ and [I] showed the model to one of the members, Steve Van Til (RIP), who then asked me the crucial question: ‘That’s cool, but can you make one of these?’ That’s where it all started. I could blame all of this on Steve. It’s been a never-ending cycle of ‘That’s cool, can you make one of these?’ ever since.”

Stony's response to "That's cool, but can you make one of these?" The Taconite Orr Car II

Stony’s response to “That’s cool, but can you make one of these?” The Taconite Orr Car II

Embrace Making as a Pure Hobby (Unless You’re Looking to Become a Brand)

Sometimes, you want to make a huge mark on an industry. Sometimes, it’s better to let your day job be your job, and your hobby be purely fun (even if it makes you money). Stony stresses, “This is a HOBBY for me. There’s enough ‘work’ in my day job to keep me fully active. I get a significant amount of relaxation and satisfaction just while doing the drawings, and that’s why I only work on designing things that look interesting to me or catch my attention. I don’t need the distraction of trying to become dependent on the income. That would make this a ‘job’ not a ‘hobby.’ And when someone takes one of my items, paints it properly and places it on their layout, then if I see it in a photo or IRL, the thrill of ‘I did that!’ is what keeps me going.”

Let Your Other Passions Inspire You

For Smith, a career that he truly enjoys inspires how he manages his Shapeways Shop. “My day job is in high-powered big data analytics. Throughout my career, I’ve always been ‘the computer guy.’ There are a number of methods/tools from the day job that I bring over to watching the status of my shop here at Shapeways, like knowing that I’ve sold 7000 items!” He’s also surpassed $10,000 in sales, as we reported last year.

So, what are you waiting for? Do you have a hobby you’d like to take to the next level, but you’re not quite sure how? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll be happy to connect you with the resources you need. Ask away!

Cover image: Ferris Wheel – Zscale by Stony Smith Designs, photo by Karin Snyder

Designer Spotlight: Jin Kyeom – VITAMIN-IMAGINATION

When I was a child, I wanted to be a paleontologist (a scientist who studies fossils) because I thought dinosaurs were absolutely incredible. My parents took me to the Museum of Natural History here in New York, where I discovered that paleontologists slept in tents during their digs — and promptly changed my mind on that career. Alas. Over twenty years later, at my post as PR Lead here at Shapeways, I stumbled upon Jin Kyeom’s Shapeways’ shop and felt positively giddy; Jin’s incredible 3D designs bring dinosaurs back to life (in the artistic sense, obviously). Jin lives in South Korea and works as an educator teaching people of all ages about dinosaurs.

Sifting through the array of models in Jin’s shop, it’s impossible not to let your imagination run a little wild, assisted by the fact that many of the designs are paired with an animation of the 3D modeled dinosaur in action (running, attacking – it’s all there). Due to my weakness for awkward-looking animals, the Carnotaurus model is my favorite  look at its tiny little arms! How does that dinosaur give hugs? Scratch its head? Do anything, basically?

Carnotaurus (Medium / Large size) by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Carnotaurus (Medium / Large size) by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Obviously wanting to fangirl, I asked Jin lots of questions about his models for this Designer Spotlight, so without further ado:

What do you use to guide the dinosaur designs?
Because dinosaurs are extinct, restoring them in a scientifically accurate way is not an easy task. I collect not only the skeleton pictures of the dinosaurs I want to make, but also skeleton data of similar animals. In addition, since extinct dinosaurs are steadily studied, I review the latest academic information. If the collected scientific data and my imagination are in the wrong combination, we can create a strange monster so I review skeletal data of existing animals that are similar to the dinosaurs that I want to restore. The skin patterns of reptiles, for example, are extremely beneficial in guiding the creation of my dinosaur designs.

I use ZBrush for dinosaur-making, Rhino3D for product structure, and KeyShot for rendering. When I prepare a lot of materials, I make the dinosaurs with a ZBrush. In the middle, I get advice from a dinosaur researcher in South Korea. So I try to make nice designs of scientifically accurate dinosaurs.

Tyrannosaurus vs. Triceratops Skeleton by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Tyrannosaurus vs. Triceratops Skeleton by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Your dinosaur designs are now incredibly complex and highly detailed. How long did it take you to master 3D design?
I have been studying ZBrush since 2011 and have been using it until now. In the beginning, my ability was a mess. Recent dinosaurs I have made are better in design and scientific knowledge than my past dinosaurs.

The dinosaurs I had studied and worked on for about two years were the first to receive praise. While I’m much more knowledgeable than when I first started, I continue to study, learn, and strive to improve my skills because there’s always room for growth.

Jin’s earliest Breeding Kit models

How long does it take to model each design?
Typically, I invest a week to design one dinosaur, but it’s a continuation of a long process of research, collecting data, and consulting experts. When the print has been completed, the work is post-processed with paint.

Ceratopsian small package by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Ceratopsian small package by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Check out Jin’s shop – it’s a very realistic-looking blast from the past (which is also what probably killed the dinosaurs, womp womp). There are also Jin’s adorably cartoonish baby dinos in the New Breeding Kit section, for all your cuteness needs.

Triceratops Head skull flower pot by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Triceratops Head skull flower pot by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Congratulations, Winners of the Sketchfab #3DSculptTabletopWars Challenge!

At Shapeways, we love working with fellow design communities, so we were delighted when we got the opportunity to sponsor Sketchfab’s monthly 3D sculpting challenge. We asked their community to come up with the coolest tabletop wargaming miniatures they could. They didn’t disappoint — the quality of each submission was phenomenal.

Judging with a combination of Sketchfab and Shapeways Community members and staff, including Shapeways Shop owner mz4250 of the The DM Workshop, we chose from the entries here:

 

…And the winners were:

Winner: 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

We loved seeing these designs take form in the Sketchfab forums, and we can’t wait to see how they’ll turn out 3D printed! Until then, share your latest designs in the comments below for a chance to be featured on the blog.

We Just Got Faster, Again — FUD Lead Times Cut in Half!

Attention wargamers, model railroaders, and miniaturists! Last week, we shared that we were shortening production turnaround times on a dozen materials, but we’re not done yet. This week, we’re cutting the lead time for one of our most popular materials, Frosted Ultra Detail plastic, in half — from six business days to three. That means you can get your planes, trains, and figurines in record-breaking time!

sw-faster-instagram-fud

We were able to shave this much time off the process by adding new machines to increase manufacturing capacity while making our planning and post-processing systems more efficient.

Now is a great time to print your favorite model railroad car, sci-fi miniatures, or wargaming products — and enjoy them faster than ever!

For a chance to be featured on the blog, let us know in the comments how you’re using Frosted Ultra Detail plastic in your designs.

This 3D Printed High Elf Miniature Is Downright Incredible

Late last year, we made our Black High Definition Acrylate (BHDA) available for sale by our Shop Owners, enabling them to market incredibly detailed models. Since then, we’ve been watching with a ton of excitement as miniature makers prototype and iterate their concepts to prepare them for sale. Shapeways Shop Owner Gareth Nicholas, the multitalented 3D designer and award-winning miniature painter, shared his thoughts and process around designing for and finishing BHDA on his blog, and we were so blown away that we had to share.

SEO Miniature painting, toy models, figurine, heroforge, Dnd miniatures, how to paint miniatures, dungeons and dragons, reaper miniatures, dungeons and dragons character generator, sheet, mini figures, fantasy miniatures. GAMES WORKSHOP, gameworkshop, citadel paints, war games, games, boardgames, high elve, shapeways

Nicholas took his already expert-level experience in painting Warhammer and Reaper miniature figurines to the next level by creating his own figures with 3D printing. On his blog he explains:

“Concept-wise there’s nothing particularly original here. Games Workshop have been starving me of High Elves recently (at the moment it’s starting to look doubtful they’ll ever return, but I live in hope) so I decided to make my own. As I usually do when I sculpt something, I spent a while with a pencil and paper sketching various designs for armour and so on. I rejected a few designs that I thought looked cool on the grounds that they probably wouldn’t print very well or look good when painted.”

SEO Miniature painting, toy models, figurine, heroforge, Dnd miniatures, how to paint miniatures, dungeons and dragons, reaper miniatures, dungeons and dragons character generator, sheet, mini figures, fantasy miniatures. GAMES WORKSHOP, gameworkshop, citadel paints, war games, games, boardgames, high elve,

To start the design, Nicholas blocked out the character with simple shapes in (free software) Blender. We strongly recommend emulating his process here because he kept the overall model at the same level of finish throughout his process. This allows him to make good judgements as he improves the model through iterations, working from the most general forms to the most finely detailed.

“I roughed out the proportions in Blender and spent a fair bit of time viewing the model from every angle until I was happy that the anatomy wasn’t too awful. I then went back and refined each element, and made decisions about how the hair and the cloak would flow.”

Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways Hereforge, Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden

Afterwards, Nicholas describes how he took the smooth finish of BHDA and made it glow with simple paints (check out his blog for more awesome expert painting tips).

“I elected to go with non-metallic metal when painting as there are some interesting shapes and I wanted to explore the reflections. For the steel parts I used my tried and tested method of highlighting with cyan and shading with red added to the mix.

“Overall I am quite pleased with how the miniature has turned out for a first effort at this scale and I’ve learnt a lot that will hopefully lead to better results in the future.”

Finally, check out the finished product below, and find more of Nicholas’s original miniatures in his Shapeways Shop here. This High Elf would be an impressive addition to your next Warhammer battle or Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden

Looking for more custom-made miniatures? Check out Gareth Nicholas’ shop here, Tabletop & Wargaming accessories here, and the Miniatures marketplace here. And, let us know in the comments what figurines you’d like to see in the marketplace in the future!

Designer Spotlight: Ethan Chodos – Piece of Mind Design

Closing out 2016, we’re thrilled to be featuring Ethan Chodos as our last Designer Spotlight of the year. In his own words, “With so much negativity going on in the world, creating something unique and beautiful brings light into the world. I want to be part of that.” With this year having been so chaotic, we’re totally onboard with this mission!

Ethan’s Piece of Mind Design Shapeways shop is a lighthearted collection of game pieces, rings, and coffee mugs. Ethan takes inspiration from creative plays on words — and a few of his rescue pups. Check out our Q&A with him below for more details (and a super cute photo of his dogs).

You have a number of great, cheeky game pieces. How did you decide to model and design the ones you’ve done?
I wanted to create pieces that are unexpected, irreverent, thought-provoking and most of all, fun.

Knucklehead by Piece of Mind Design

Knucklehead by Piece of Mind Design

Are these generally used as game pieces, desk toys, etc?
All of those things. My thought at the time was that they could be used in a game like Monopoly, make a cool chess set, or be placed on your desk as a gag “trophy”.

Are there any others in the works?
Right now I am focused on making cups and rings. Just like those original game pieces, I try to infuse my latest designs with the same qualities.

Train Kept A Rollin' Ring- Size 12 (21.49 mm) by Piece of Mind Design

Train Kept A Rollin’ Ring- Size 12 (21.49 mm) by Piece of Mind Design

Your Hangin’ Pitbull Pendant is great and seems to have lots of fans.
I have four rescue dogs. Two are pitbulls. We all know they can get a bad rap. Yet, if you have one, you know how special they are. I just wanted to put that out there for my fellow dog lovers.

Hangin' Pitbull by Piece of Mind Design

Hangin’ Pitbull by Piece of Mind Design

The inspiration

Love Ethan’s creations as much as we do? Check out his Shapeways shop to see the full line of game pieces, mugs, and rings.

All Aboard With Boxcar Models

Earlier this week, we showed you how to take 3D printed model trains from raw prints to gorgeous finished pieces. It’s all part of our holiday celebration of how our designers and makers bring Tiny Worlds to life. Two of the gorgeous trains we featured in that post were created by Alexander Clark of Boxcar Models.

CNSM 203 - 214 MD by Boxcar Models

CNSM 203 – 214 MD by Boxcar Models

Like many of our model train designers, Alexander’s pieces fill a need not met by the market — and his process for creating them has been a journey of discovery. “Railway modelers always want ‘that’ model that is not available commercially, and that’s how I got started… if I wanted them, I knew I was going to have to make them myself,” he told us.

This desire led him down the path of 3D design. “Having an engineering background, I knew my way around a drawing and knew how to use a computer, so I learned how to draw a model that could be 3D printed. I started simple and produced what is basically an electrical cabinet. From there, things just grew to more larger and complex models,” he added. Those models don’t come directly from Clark’s imagination, but they aren’t always easy to source: “If I am lucky there is an engineering drawing of the model. If not, I have to either measure the real thing or source endless photographs and make a best guess at dimensions.” That’s when the design work really begins.

When creating the designs themselves, he strives for maximum accuracy, opting to draw his models in true-to-life 1:1 dimensions. Using additive fabrication software Netfabb, he then checks his models for printability, making any necessary fixes manually before scaling them down for printing. The final tweaks come after, when he makes a few adjustments for the material design parameters, “so there has to be a bit of compromise between 100% accuracy and what will actually print.”

Amtrak Horizon Cafe V2 Doors by Boxcar Models

Amtrak Horizon Cafe V2 Doors by Boxcar Models

We’re grateful that Alexander took on this unusual design challenge. Boxcar Models’ exquisitely detailed coaches, freight cars, and accessories not only allow enthusiasts to find models that wouldn’t exist otherwise, they also make for utterly unique gifts for collectors looking for rarer-than-rare finds.

CNSM 250 - 255 Combine by Boxcar Models

CNSM 250 – 255 Combine by Boxcar Models

Check out Alexander’s full range of trains and accessories in his Shapeways shop. And whether you’re looking to recreate the past through scale models or create mods for your favorite miniatures, don’t miss the trains, trucks, figurines, and more in the Tiny Worlds collections of our Holiday Gift Guide. Let us know how your holiday projects are shaping up in the comments.

Gifts to Supercharge Their Slot Cars

For slot car enthusiasts, it once took complex custom mods to improve the performance of their racers — until 3D printing made it painless. As we continue to zoom in on the Tiny Worlds our designers bring to life, we’re taking a look at a maker who makes it easy to create perfect holiday gifts for the slot racers in your life.

1/32 Spirit BMW 2002 Chassis for Slot.it pod by OLIFER Performance Slot Car Parts

1/32 Spirit BMW 2002 Chassis for Slot.it pod by OLIFER Performance Slot Car Parts

One of the most respected names in slot racing, Olifer Performance Slot Cars, began its life as Olifer Racing, a champion 1970s slot car team. A second generation of Olifer racers decided to share their know-how with other enthusiasts, choosing to offer 3D printed chassis, motor mounts, and dozens more accessories on Shapeways.

Long Can motor mount - Slot.it compatible by OLIFER Performance Slot Car Parts

Long Can motor mount – Slot.it compatible by OLIFER Performance Slot Car Parts

Olifer’s accessories and modifications, like this 1/32 MRRC Chaparral 2F Chassis for Slot.it pod, work with many popular models. They also improve a car’s performance and speed while remaining easy to add — and remove — in minutes with a small screwdriver and allen key.

1/32 MRRC Chaparral 2F Chassis for Slot.it pod by OLIFER Performance Slot Car Parts

1/32 MRRC Chaparral 2F Chassis for Slot.it pod by OLIFER Performance Slot Car Parts

Check out Olifer’s full line of performance parts here, and don’t miss our full selection of gifts to help you Race to the Holidays, whatever Tiny Worlds your giftees are into. And let us know in the comments: What are some of your favorite slot car mods?

How to Make It a Model (Train) Holiday

CNSM 741 – 776 Silverliner Series Coach by Box Car Models

The holidays always evoke nostalgia for family traditions. For my family, one of these traditions was to put a model train set around the base of the Christmas tree. It was that finishing touch that said the holidays were really here. This week, we’re offering gift ideas from all the Tiny Worlds our designers create, and I hope you’ll be inspired to make model trains a part of your family’s holiday traditions.

Shapeways offers an enormous variety of model trains that are as detailed as those you’d see on tracks around the world. But, 3D printed models do require a few finishing touches. Model trains are printed in a number of scales and sizes, and generally produced in Frosted Detail Plastic. The post-processing of these trains in Frosted Detail requires a few tools:

  • Acetone or Simple Green

  • Primer

  • Synthetic Paint Brush Set or Airbrush Kit

  • Acrylic or Enamel Paint

  • Matte or Satin Varnish

Once the tools are assembled, you are well on your way to getting your perfect model train ready.

1. Model Prep

If there is any residual oil or wax support material left over from the production process, this can easily be removed using acetone or Simple Green solvent. You can simply dip and air dry the model. Or, using a paint brush, you can lightly spread the solvent on the train and air dry.

**TIP** If you notice an excess amount of residual support material or details are distorted, this may call for a reprint. Please send an image and order number to service@shapeways.com.

2. First Coat – Prime

Primer is added as a first coat in order to provide a uniform surface and offer a stronger hold for your paints. Recommended primer colors include black, grey, or white. Your primer color selection will depend on the colors you decide for your top coat.

In order to keep the finest details visible, it is best to use a thin primer. For example, Krylon Color Master Primer will do the job.

3. Paint

Models can be painted in a variety of ways. The most common methods for painting a high-detail finish include airbrushing and hand-painting.

Airbrush painting is a great method for coating large areas of your design more quickly. This will require a fine-tip sprayer kit and masking to cover the areas that are not intended to be painted.

Hand-painting might be a bit more accessible to those who don’t want to invest in an airbrush kit. For this method, a range of small-sized synthetic brushes are recommended. The synthetic hairs do not fray, have a longer life span, and allow for finer points due to their stiffer structure.

With hand-painting, we suggest using acrylic or enamel model paints. First, add your larger base details using a larger brush. Then, with a smaller brush, use the lighter colors to make your details pop. Once painted, let the material dry completely before moving on to the next step.

4. Clear Coat

The final step to finishing your model train is to add a varnish. This will seal the paints and offer the appropriate sheen. Choose a matte or satin finish depending on your glossiness preference.

The varnish should be thinly applied and set to dry. Once dried, the model is ready to be displayed.

HO scale 1:87 CSX SD40-3 Wabtec Cab by Boxcar Models

This year, we hope you’ll make model trains a part of your holiday tradition, whether you make and give them as gifts or set them up for all to see. Who knows? Maybe hand-finishing model trains can be your new favorite family holiday pastime.

And, for everyone on your list, make sure to check out our Holiday Gift Guide. It’s also full of ways to bring all kinds of Tiny Worlds to life.

Do you have any tips or tricks to finishing your model trains? We would love to hear them, so please share them with the community on our forum or in the comments below.

Designer Spotlight: Dmitry Ustinov – Forpost D6 Miniatures

As we take a deep dive this week into the Tiny Worlds our makers bring to life on Shapeways, we’re taking a closer look at a designer whose miniatures add dimension to tabletop gaming. Dmitry Ustinov of Forpost D6 Miniatures focuses on Warhammer, 40000 Mordheim, and Necromunda, designing incredible characters, tiny accessories (from milk jugs to helmets), cannons, and war vehicles.

1/100, 1877 de Bange cannon, 155mm by Forpost D6

1/100, 1877 de Bange cannon, 155mm by Forpost D6

How do you find inspiration for your more creative models?
In the first place, I look for models that are in-demand by miniatures collectors and game players. Most of my models I originally created for myself and some were made at the request of other people. It’s an interesting challenge — to combine the desired appearance, printability and practical shape-form. Many good ideas come from searching custom models, which are produced by conventional methods such as resin casting. Some models were quite simple to remake using 3D modeling, and some (such as people’s faces and bodies) become challenging. Of course, when you hold the printed model in your hands, you get a better idea of how to improve the design and which new products will turn out better next time. Sometimes users of Shapeways suggest interesting ideas, but it’s difficult to make the designs by myself and I have to hire third-party modelers. I’ve commissioned designs of Cultist Chan, for example.

What’s your process behind creating miniature tanks? Do you base them on historical models?
The process of model tank design begins with a studying of the drawings, blueprints, and photographs. To begin, you have to determine the size of the vehicle which depends on material consumption and the amount of detalization. I usually make the body hollow and without a bottom panel to reduce the cost of production. Some tanks I design with movable turrets, but in a small scale, this is usually not required. The main problem is the representing of machine gun barrels because printing rules requires them to be thick. But otherwise, 3D printing technology competes with the traditional casting process.

For the majority of “railroad” scales such as 1/220, 1/160, 1/144, I do historically accurate models. For tabletop scales such as 15mm and 28mm I mostly make fictional vehicles.

1/144 Renault FT tank (3 pieces) by Forpost D6

1/144 Renault FT tank (3 pieces) by Forpost D6

You said you have a long to-do list of requests from people. What are some of the most popular requests you get?
I get a lot of requests to make a model on a different scale. So now I’m trying to publish a design at multiple scales. I’m often asked to make a head to create an unusual conversion for their Warhammer 40k Imperial Guard armies. Also, they ask to make weapons for action figures. A long list consists of requested historic tanks and artillery pieces. Sometimes people need to alter the model for easy copy-casting.

One of your models is not like the others. What’s the story behind Peter the Piglet and his tractor?
I am interested in challenging myself in different subjects, not just miniatures. I have noticed that there are popular memes printed in colored sandstone. Peter the Piglet is one of the Russian internet memes. It was originally a character from a children’s book, to which a blogger came up with their own story, changing the essence of what is happening in the pictures. Somehow, one of the pictures became widely spread among Internet users. Thus the image of a piglet Peter has become a symbol of the emigrant who leaves their country for whatever reasons (political, economic), taking with him something of value (in this case, the tractor).

Peter the Piglet and His Tractor by Forpost D6

Peter the Piglet and His Tractor by Forpost D6

Discover more miniatures in the Tiny Worlds collections in our Holiday Gift Guide. And, to learn more about miniatures in general, Dmitry suggests joining the Facebook group where folks share game and collector miniatures available on Shapeways. Members not only share their own creations but also post things they’ve found while clicking around the site. We also encourage you to check out the array of awesome miniatures in Dmitry’s Shapeways shop.

4 Ways to Bring Tiny Worlds to Life

650x251-hgg-my-sw-tiny-worlds-0 (1)

It’s like traveling back in time. Or shapeshifting into a much tinier form. Miniatures are empowering and magical, and they capture our imagination like almost nothing else. Whether it’s a scale model of a train that hasn’t existed since the 19th century, a reborn dinosaur that stalks your desktop, a lightning-fast slot car, or a micro-scale camper and tent setup just like the one Dad used to have. This week in our Holiday Gift Guide, we’re celebrating the Tiny Worlds you bring to life, and helping you share the miniatures magic with your loved ones this holiday season. Read on for four ways to make the little things count this year.

1. Help them take a custom flight into the past with this Paint-It-Yourself N Scale Cessna by Stony Smith Designs

Cessna 172 - N Scale by Stony Smith Designs

Cessna 172 – N Scale by Stony Smith Designs

2. Build Their Train Set with this ultra-detailed Chicago Car by Traction Scale Models

3000/6000 series Chicago Cars - HO Scale 1:87 by Traction Scale Models

3000/6000 series Chicago Cars – HO Scale 1:87 by Traction Scale Models

3. Satisfy their love for Dinos with this adorable/creepy Compy Desktop Figurine by VFXguy’s desktop toys

Compy dinosaur desktop figurine by VFXguy's desktop toys

Compy dinosaur desktop figurine by VFXguy’s desktop toys

4. Join the Race to the Holidays with this model AC Cobra by 3DCerebro

AC Cobra by 3DCerebro

AC Cobra by 3DCerebro

More than just perfect gifts for imaginative loved ones, many of the creations featured this week wouldn’t exist were it not for the ingenuity of our community of designers. With their incredibly detailed scale models, Shapeways designers are miniaturizing things that have never before been recreated, satisfying unique interests in ways that would never have been possible without 3D printing. Discover more of their Tiny Worlds in our Holiday Gift Guide, and let us know in the comments what scale models you want to see more of on Shapeways.