If you’ve seen a 3D printed video game weapon replica go viral in the last few years then chances are that it was created by MyMiniFactory Lead Designer Kirby Downey. Just taking a look through his profile over at 3D model marketplace and design community MyMiniFactory will reveal tons of replica video game weapons and cosplay props that would put most Hollywood prop designers to shame. What started as a fun hobby for Downey quickly evolved into a job as his designs started to get more and more attention. Today he not only continues to create amazing props for My Mini Factory, but he also hosts videos and tutorials on his own YouTube channel and streams his design process over on his MyMiniFactory TV channel.
The London by way of South Africa-based product designer is a remarkably prolific 3D designer, with well over a hundred downloadable 3D models available, many of them highly complicated projects and builds. And Downey designs, prints and assembles all of his 3D printing projects on his own, which makes that number even more impressive. His passion for videogames started back when he was seven and got his first PlayStation, and in fact his desire to bring his favorite video game weapons to life is what inspired him to study 3D modelling and 3D printing in school. Downey studied Industrial Design at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, and once he graduated he moved to London to become an industrial designer full time.
Downey recently spoke to Solidworks community manager Rachel Diane York about what inspires him, his design process and what started him down the road to being a 3D designer. The self-taught Solidworks user has always been a big advocate for the CAD program, despite it being a program primarily used for large-scale industrial, mechanical and engineering designers. But according to Kirby, some of the program’s advanced features really helped him with some of the more complex designs that he’s created over the years.
“The first model I printed myself, operating the machine and maintaining everything was this mechanical character I created. I used SOLIDWORKS to its full here by using the assembly to test the gears and positions so that once printed it worked first time. Doing this opened a lot of doors for prototypes. I was able to test mechanisms before printing them out. This has saved a lot of time with a lot of my mechanical objects. One of my best mechanical objects was a hand-crank fan featured on Barnacules Nerdgasms YouTube Channel,” Downey told York in their interview on the Solidworks blog.
It was from the humble beginnings of that walking mechanical man that Downey went from creating simple mechanical objects to his nearly five-foot-long Frostmourne Sword from World of Warcraft, or his four-foot-long Thunderlord rifle from Destiny. He has also started to turn his 3D printed props into working airsoft rifles like this Rorsch X1 rifle from Battlefront and his absolutely stunning Destiny Thorn Hand Cannon.
Each new design of Downey’s seems to be better than the last, so it is pretty easy to understand why he’s becoming one of the most well-known 3D printed prop designers. He was even recently invited to host a panel on 3D printing cosplay props at the London Film and Comic Con last summer.
Here is a video of Downey showing off one of his latest projects, a 3D Printed Suros PDX-45 Airsoft Rifle:
Recently Downey hosted a live design stream on MyMiniFactory TV, sort of a Twitch for 3D printing, where he designed a detailed AT-AT Walker from Star Wars. So far the model hasn’t been 3D printed, but it already looks amazing and I can’t wait to see how it comes out. Downey can also be found on his Facebook page where he regularly posts new 3D models, his YouTube channel where he talks about how he designs the various props that he shows off and of course his MyMiniFactory TV channel where he live streams himself designing new projects with Solidworks. And make sure that you check out his interview over on the Solidworks blog.
Here is a gallery of some of Downey’s best designs: