3D printing for model building is the future
Model building is nothing new, but a craft that hobbyists have enjoyed for generations. From the early days of modelling sailing boats, through to railways, airplanes and cars, dolls houses and buildings, the art of modelling has always held a fascination. It is a hobby that occupies the mind and fingers, has a delightful end product and recreates the past. It is now entering a new era with 3D printing. Model-making is turning into one of the most marketable uses for 3D printers on the high street. What model enthusiast wouldn't want to extend their skills and hobby by actually being able to make their own model parts?
You might have been making models for many years and have old instructions, drafts or blueprints lying around. If so, they will prove invaluable in getting you started with 3D printing. You can copy and adapt your old floor plans or model blueprints into new drawings. Then you reassemble these drawings into printable designs using the many software packages available. Your model's complexity is entirely up to you. You might need to print a dozen parts or, as your skill grows, hundreds. For example, for a simple model sports car you will be looking at around fifteen parts to print and assemble.
John Heimensem at MiniWorld Rotterdam
If you don't feel confident enough to make your own drawings, then head to the growing online community of model-makers at websites such as Thingiverse. Not only do these sites have thousands of downloadable items for you to print, their online communities inspire and support. They help you create your own designs or allow you to adapt theirs. 3D software and sites, such as SketchUp, 3DTin and Tinkercad are full of tutorials, ideas and files which can be downloaded to print. Basically, you start by selecting a 3D shape - a cylinder, cone or pyramid - and a size. Then stamp it into 3D space and drag it into the shape you want. Use the 'remove' facility to create space, until you have the model part you need. Then press print!
Using 3D printing is a bit like drawing, the more you practice the better you get. Getting the 3D software package right for you will involve an investment of money. But this one-off payment will pay dividends with an endless ability to create model kits. And as everybody knows, buying good model kits off-the-shelf is not a cheap hobby option.
If you want to create your own templates you will need inspiration. Why not make a kit of your own house, or design your ideal home of the future. Maybe you are a model railway enthusiast and already have a layout in your home. Model shops are full of generic railway buildings and historic stations, but there are some fantastic futuristic stations around the world. Why not add one of these to your layout?
There is a growing range of 3D printers available. Expensive models, designed for commercial use, give you a speedier print. Whatever your budget is though, you are sure to find a 3D printer to suit. Just be patient while your parts are created. When you have all the parts you need, you can paint or airbrush with your chosen colors and assemble them like any shop bought kit.
3D printing is rapidly growing in use and popularity and 3D printing for model building is definitely the future. With 3D printing you can truly make anything you want. When you have the ability to make your own parts, you are limited only by your imagination. Your model will be unique to you!