Printing and Casting
At this point you might want to ask yourself, whatís you plan of action? Are you going to print the parts and make a doll that way? Or are you preparing molds, so that your future doll will be done by casting?
Lets talk a bit about 3D printing. 3D printing today is probably among the most rapidly developing areas of technology. And there are great many way to turn a 3D file into a tangible object. Here are a few of them:
-ABS: cheap technology, which can be useful. Shape is produced by layering plastic material. Unlike large factory printers ABS printers are relatively inexpensive and can be adopted for home use.
-Photopolymer: slick and highly detailed. The material solidifies under UV-light. Itís more expensive and it can be fragile.
-jets (objet, multyjet, projet): solid, highly detailed and slick, but much more expensive then everything else.
Factory 3D printer
None of the materials listed above will suit your need, if you want to assemble a 3D printed doll. The trick is to get parts with holes and cavities which have to be very solid and not too slick. Slickness would mean that the joints will be slippery and the doll will be hard to pose. Right now the only plausible method for printing dolls is SLS or Selective Laser Sintering. Laser is used to melt together tiny nylon particles. The result is a very solid and silky material.
Holes, pins and cavities
Now back to our project. The inner structure of a doll is just as important as the surface. On this picture you can see how we subtract objects to make proper slots.
The end result looks something like this.
We generally try to estimate future make up in Zbrush using Polypaint function.
It might also be a good idea to try several poses before sending it for printing.
Prepare the parts for printing
You canít print a doll as it is. First you have to separate the parts (to ensure they donít melt together) and to position them properly. The objects are built from the bottom up, and the layers can be very noticeable if a part is not rotated correctly.
The parts arrive covered in powder. They have to be cleaned up first, and if everything is ok, it wonít take too much time to assemble the doll. If, on the other hand, something is not ok, thereís a chance that you can fix it manually but that requires special tool. SLS material is very-very sold. Itís hard to polish or to drill holes in. But the great thing about it is that itís light, and because of itís inherent texture the joints donít slide.
Cleaning up, sorting and polishing parts is something that takes up most of the time. But we decided itís better not to bore you too much with it. And the focus of this article is more shifted towards digital component of the production anyway.
In cases when the texture is not welcomed we use custom made polishing heads to remove the texture. In areas where polishing is not possible we use glossy varnish to get some smoothness.
Here are two shoulder parts: one is polished, the other is not. Diligently polished SLS has a pleasant feel to it. It canít be damaged by water or even solvents like alcohol or acetone.
Polished on the left, unpolished on the right
This is a very brief overview of how we go about making dolls. Keep in mind that our methods are constantly changing and evolving, and 3D printing technology progresses very rapidly. Same goes for software.
We decided not to talk about assembling in this particular article since the article is long enough and we already have videos on the subject.
But nonetheless putting together a humanoid doll is something weíll cover in more detail in the future.
Original article by Olga Bekreeva, English edition by Alex Yaremchuk