3D Printed Rifleman Mech Steps into the Real World


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The popularity of Mechs doesn’t seem to fade away. Not a long time ago, we found out that one of our customers took Silver at Gen Con MHE painting competition with the Timber Wolf 3D miniature. And now, another Mech has been revealed by Alwin Chan, a fellow who has joined the 3D printing trend recently. It’s been a little bit longer than one year since Alwin started getting to the grips with the 3D printing and modeling.

Alwin doesn’t have special education and isn’t super skilled in handling 3D models or designing miniatures. But this has challenged him to try to learn it on his own from YouTube tutorials and videos.

Rifleman is Alwin’s special project, as it is one of his first 3D printing miniatures done from start to finish by himself in his pursuit of making 3D printing his hobby.

We contacted Alwin and asked him several questions about his experience with 3D printing and this is what he told us.

Alwin, you probably saw that a lot of our customers choose to 3D print Mechs. Could you let our readers know what is the reason behind this trend?  

“I think many of us played MechWarrior or one of the old PC games when we were growing up. We also watched a ton of cartoons like Robotech / Macross where there were always these giant mechanical robots that could fly and shoot. Who wouldn’t want a Mech on their desktop? The hardest part was always finding a good model that was printable and had surface detail.”

How long have you been into 3D printing? Do you have any special education in this field?

“Believe it or not, I started 3D printing in September of 2016 so I’m in just over a year. I don’t have any design expertise but I am learning Fusion 360 because it is free and there’s many YouTube videos on it. I’m also planning on learning Blender too. I feel like I need to learn these to make some edits to models that I have as well as create models that aren’t available anywhere on the Internet.”

What was the first item you 3D printed and on what type of 3D printer did you do it?  

“I funded the M3D Micro on Kickstarter and that was my first 3D printer and it was horrible. The very first item I printed was a Colonial Viper Mk2 from Battlestar Galactica.”

How was the result?

“Well, since it actually printed. I was amazed that it even worked. The layer height was high but it had the general shape of the model and seeing that for the first time. It’s great. It was like Star Trek was really happening.”

What 3D printer did you use to 3D print Rifleman? Does it have any specific settings that our audience needs to know before deciding to buy one? Would you recommend it for a beginner user?

“I used a Makerbot Replicator 5th Gen and a Makerbot Replicator 2X. I used 2 printers to cut the time in half to get all the parts done. I would suggest anyone printing these tune their printer first for the filament they are going to use and focus on retraction. Print at the highest quality your printer can handle, it will really bring out the details of the model and make post print processing a lot less of a headache.

How long did it take to have all parts 3D printed? Were there any failures? If yes, what kind and how did you deal with them?

“All in all, I think it took a total of 20 hrs. I had a couple of failures on the leg pieces because the support failed. I also had to chop the body to preserve the details on the bottom of the Mech’s body. If I didn’t do this, the support would have damaged the bottom of the model and that added a bit of time to the entire printing process. I also had to orient the parts to minimize support scarring and maintain as much detail as possible. I’d rather chop a part into 2 or 3 pieces than deal with the loss of detail.”

What type of printing material did you use? Tell us about your experience with using this material.

“I mainly print with PLA from Hatchbox which is pretty high quality and affordable. Since I use this brand a lot, I knew where my temperature and retraction settings should be to get the best possible model out of my printers. I think it’s important to test your material so you don’t waste hours and get a part that you’re not happy with.”

Your Rifleman is painted, as we can see. Tell us, did you do it yourself or prefer specialized services? What painting tools and techniques did you use to give it such a nice coat?

“I used automotive filler primer and then sanded and repeated until all the layers were hidden and smoothed out. After that, I airbrushed the entire model with Tamiya acrylic paints and then let dry. I added a matte clear coat and then started with the decals which I printed on an ink jet printer.  After that, it took about 9 hours to add all the weathering and highlights. Since the model was large, I knew any surface flaws would show up so I had to spend the extra time to get it ‘right.'”

As you probably know, one of our customers, Kevin Witt, took part in Gen Con Convention and took silver for the painting competition. He entered with Timberwolf 3D model. Are you one of the guys who would consider participating next year in this competition?

“I saw that model and he did an awesome job! I would but it would all depend on how much time I had. There are a lot of very talented ‘professional’ model builders out there.”

How would you describe in a word your reaction at holding a 3D printed item in your hands?  

“A kind of amazement that you had this vision of what the model could become and you made it happen. You have to resist just holding it and just daydreaming for a while. As you start the finishing process, I find myself doing that a lot. You can see the end and have to fight not to rush it and mess up.”

Are you now working on something special? Share with our audience.  

“Yes, I’m working on the Starcraft Siege Tank. Ever since I played that game back in the mid-90s, I’ve wanted a model of that tank and I could never find one. I almost always played as Terran and I can’t thank Gambody enough for publishing it with the artist. This tank is going to take a while and I’m pushing the limits of my old printers!”

Alwin proves that perseverance and good printing material are the pillars to good results. His Rifleman Miniature is a good example to show to those who make their first steps into 3D printing.  

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

Yurii Yefimov is the CPO of Gambody.


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