AMS Spring 2023

3D Printing Meets Model Building with This Amazing T80 Russian Tank

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If you’re looking for a way to while away the long winter hours and you have a 3D printer, Instructables maker and model enthusiast “8bitwood” has a project for you. This detail-oriented maker spent nine months painstakingly building a small-scale replica of a Russian T80 tank. This kind of a tank, known as a “Main Battle Tank” (MBT), is designed to be front and center on the battlefield. Designed and built in the Soviet Union starting in 1976, T80s were generally used in groups in formation.

Not only did 8bitwood spend nine months at work on this unarguably impressive model, but he admits in his Instructables log that he worked daily on the project, although he seems to have enjoyed himself thoroughly (as evidenced by the occasional bottle of Stella Artois in photos documentank and beerting the project and, of course, the end result).

He began the project by looking at photographs of the T80 and found one particular site, Primeportal.net, to be especially helpful in this regard. After tracking down multiple photos of the tank, he found orthographic views of the tank, which he printed to the specific size he wanted his model to be. This step, he noted, “is super important [as] these are the closest things to blueprints you will get.”

In addition to a 3D printer — he used a MakerBot Replicator 2 — you’ll need the following supplies:
– Digital calipers (see his blog for an explanation).
– Glue (super, epoxy).
– Plastic sheets (we assume he means for the printer).
– Knives, saws, tweezers, sandpaper — the stuff you need for model building.

8bitwood (we wish we knew his name!) modeled parts for his T80 replica using 3DS Max by Autodesk. Certain pieces he modeled separately and then printed and glued together. “I would… glue the simple pieces together to form the more complex part,” he said. “In this way I made all of the detail you see on the tank.”treads

Surely the most complex part of the project was the road wheels and the treads, but the determined maker started there first, getting the complicated scaling and sizing of the base of the tank out of the way before tackling the details, including the turret, which he seems especially proud of. In the end, 8bitwood reports that he made around 900 total 3D prints for this portion of the model and assembling the parts took him around eight hours.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this small scale replica of the T80 tank is the extraordinary attention to detail, including this maker’s seemingly infinite patience in printing out individual parts whenever possible, using bondo and sanding the pieces to achieve the desired finish, gluing them in their proper places, and then finishing the entire model with a tank paintpaint job that is beyond convincing. The lighthearted tone of his blog belies the unbelievable persistence and patience this diligent maker must possess. We’re in awe even as we find this particular projecting slightly daunting!

Let us know what you think of this project in the  T80 Tank Model forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

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