3D Modeling: Using the Latest Innovations in Print

Printing Statues and Avatars

“For games like World of Warcraft, Spore, and Rock Band, you can have your avatar printed using this type of technology,” he further noted. Customers can order printed characters from World of Warcraft through www.figureprints.com. FigurePrints are custom statues of World of Warcraft characters created using 3D color printing machines. The artists “pull your character from the virtual world and bring it to life.”

FigurePrints’ servers pull character data from the World of Warcraft Armory, create a 3D model, and lets customers pose it any way they like. On the Web site, they can hit “Print” and the software prepares the model for printing. Artists finish the process by turning the design into a collectible figurine, and once it has passed the artists’ inspection, the print is packaged and shipped to the customer.

To print a statue, figureprints.com uses rapid prototyping machines to convert three-dimensional computer models into physical objects. The electronic version of the figure is cut into more than a thousand thin slices. The printer then creates a slice of the figure at a time and the slices are stacked on top of each other to form the 3D statue. The statue is removed from the machine, hand finished, and mounted in a glass display case.

The figures are built out of a plaster-like powder that is bonded and sealed. The character models are very close to those in the game, but not exactly the same. During the final stages of development, the artists may tweak the position of the weapons and armor to make a stronger statue. They may also need to add support elements to make sure that the print is stable given the pose chosen.

FigurePrints produces all characters in scale relative to each other: Depending on the race of the character and the pose chosen, the statue can be as large as eight inches tall. Smaller characters can be printed on larger bases to give them a boost. It can take as long as several months to complete the final model depending on character pose or weapon chosen.

Other Uses for 3D

“The dental and jewelry industries have also adopted 3D technology,” Harmon noted. “The Invisalign product uses the same technology as 3D printing.” Computerized 3D images of a patient’s teeth are generated with CAD software to create a model of the mouth.

This enables the doctor to create customized aligners for each stage of the treatment process. The orthodontic aligners are produced by CNC (computer numerical controlled) machining. CNC milling machines then form the inside and outside surfaces from a block of material that can be worn inside the mouth.

“Molds for jewelry are also made from 3D printers,” he continued. “This typically involves printing highly detailed jewelry parts, creating wax molds and dipping the molds into ceramic, then burning out the ceramic and filling it with gold (to make jewelry).”

Source : www.printingnews.com


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