Monday 29 December 2014

Christmas Toys - The 3Doodler first thoughts

Christmas has been and gone. The New Year is nearly upon us, and there is little evidence that flying cars, hoverboards and self-tying laces will be the in-thing for 2015. 3D printing is doing the rounds, though, and it's getting more and more accessible to us mere mortals.

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a 3Doodler from my parents. At its simplest,  this former kickstarter is a freehand 3D printer in a pen. At its most complicated, it's a freehand 3D printer in a pen. There may some shades of grey in-between.

All you need to know, on the box

Inside, you get the pen, the power supply, instructions, cleaning tools, and 2 packs of multi-coloured ABS sticks. The 3Doodler can handle ABS plastic, and bog-standard plastic (PLA). Refills are available online for $9.99 per pack (plus shipping from the states) - I'm yet to find an affordable supplier in the UK.

In the box - no that's not Play-Doh or Fimo

It's quite simple to get started. Cleaning the nozzle looks tricky, but if you ever get it wrong there's plenty of helpful resource on YouTube so you can carry on throwing shapes.

It's a boat. Honest.

In theory, the stuff you print is pretty durable. The first mess I created was picked up, thrown around, scrunched and dropped several times before anything snapped off it.

I can see loads of hobby potential for this tool - I don't see myself making any Eiffel Tower models, cars or company logos, but I can envisage plenty of greebly details on vehicles and dioramas - maybe even something that's mould-worthy that I could cast resin copies from. Who knows? Not me, that's for sure - I have a long way to go before I master this thing!

I'll be posting pics as I create things - both here, and on Twitter. Any comments or questions? Join in the discussion below...

Thursday 11 December 2014

Prepping and working with Vinyl kits

I recently embarked on a rescue project. In the stash of Alien kits I bought a decade or so ago, was a rather special piece: a 1:60 scale vinyl Space Jockey (naturally, from the Halcyon range). The box art shows the scene from Alien when Dallas, Lambert and Kane discover the corpse of an alien being, slumped in a very phallic chair (straight out of Giger's Necronomicon), with a hole in its chest, seemingly created by something bursting out from the inside.

The kit itself is made up of few parts, but, as it's a vinyl kit, it's more detailed than injection plastic. There are, however, some consturction dangers to be aware of. Whoever had attempted to build this was clearly a vinyl newb. The prep wasn't thought through; mistakes had been made, and the paintwork was terrible.

Paint stripping was achieved with neat Dettol - and then scrubbing with about 3 old toothbrushes. Once the old paint was removed, and the model assembled, I primed the whole thing in Alclad II grey primer. It's lacquer-based, and dries properly and without residue. I've made the mistake in the (way-distant) past to use acrylic can-primer, and the vinyl stayed tacky for weeks - and then I binned the model.

I made a change to the scene suggested in the box art - instead of the 3 crewmen first finding the Jockey, I've posed the figures so that Kane looking down the hole to what will be the egg chamber, and Dallas and Lambert inspecting the chest cavity on the fossilised pilot. This is the pivotal moment in the film - the 'curiosity killed the cat' point of no return.

No photos on this one - but watch the video. It's a bit of an experiment for me - presenting to camera and live commentary while working.

Things to consider when working with vinyl - call them rules, if you want.

1. Heat up the parts before cutting or reshaping - soak in hot water or use a hairdryer.
2. Use a brand new blade to cut with - and cut away from you!
3. Cool the parts with cold water to fix your reshaped part.
4. Glue using 2-part epoxy, not superglue. Elastic bands and clamps are essential.
5. Prime with lacquer-based paint. Acrylic primer stays tacky/sticky on the vinyl, and is almost impossible to remove. As is a misspelled word in a video. Lacquer. Not Laquer. Duh.

As always, please leave comments below, or on the video - thanks for reading and watching!