raygunCreativity is endless when a skilled 3D artist is provided with a 3D printer, allowing him/her to turn their virtual models into tangible, real life products. The technology has brought to life some incredible inventions and innovations which have greatly enhanced the lives of others. At the same time, 3D printing has also allowed for these creative minds to have a little fun in fabricating things that would have only been dreamt of a few years ago.

For one freelance 3D artist, named Aiman Akhtar, who specializes in modeling characters, 3D printing allowed him to create a toy gun unlike anything we’ve seen before. Akhtar, who writes a monthly column for 3D World Magazine on the topic of 3D printing, seems to thoroughly enjoy the challenges that come with designing new products.

“Every month, I challenge myself to print something I have no clue how to make, then figure it out and take the readers on the journey with me. In the past months I’ve created an iPhone case, bobbleheads, fully articulated characters, 3D printed trophies, eyewear, and am currently tackling jewelry and wearables,” Akhtar tells 3DPrint.com.

raygun3When you think of 3D printing, there are a ton of designs out there for objects that are cool to look at, but only a small percentage of the objects out there are actually functional. One of Akhtar’s latest projects was for something that not only is fully functional, but something that is a ton of fun to play with as well. He designed and 3D printed a rubber band raygun.

“I recently moved to Los Angeles and decided to visit the Rose Bowl Flea Market which takes place bi-weekly in Pasadena,” Akhtar told us. “There, on display, I saw some hand made, wooden, rubber band shooters and instantly knew I had to make my own custom 3D printed version. That’s the great thing about 3D printing, inspiration can come from anywhere and it’s the fastest way to go from an idea to a prototype. I took the toy apart that night and started redesigning it for 3D print.”

To design the gun, Akhtar searched around the internet for photo references of other raygun designs. He then used Photoshop to sketch out his various ideas. Once he had come up with an idea that satisfied him, he used ZBrush to sculpt the shape what he needed, before exporting it as an OBJ file into MODO to start building its functional parts. After all of the parts were designed, the models were brought back into ZBrush to key them all together, before exporting each part out as a separate STL file.

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In all, there were 21 separate pieces that needed to be 3D printed, including the trigger, hammer, barrel, sights, grip, internal keys, and more. Akhtar tells us that he could have easily 3D printed it in just five or six parts, and even perhaps as a single object, but he had a desire to make it as colorful as he could. Breaking it down into many individual pieces allowed him to do so.

Surprisingly, Akhtar doesn’t own a 3D printer himself. Instead, for this project, he used 3D Hubs to find an affordable printing service close to his home.

“I landed upon a small buiness called Cybertech, and submitted an order though 3D Hubs to their print lead, Israel Pena,” Akhtar tells us. “I gave clear specifications and color notes on how I wanted each part printed, and Israel took care of the rest. He used a MakerBot 5th generation, switching out the various color plastic spools as specified.”

After receiving the parts back, Akhtar put them together but found that the trigger was not flexible enough. It was too weak to stop the hammer, and upon trying to fire the gun, it snapped off. He quickly redesigned the trigger, and just as quickly had the new design printed out by Cybertech. He tells us that it “worked brilliantly” after receiving and assembling the revised trigger. It can shoot up to 7 rubber bands in quick succession, and it is one of the most beautiful toy guns you will ever see.

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The complete detailed tutorial on making this gun can be found in 3D World Magazine, issue 194, which can be purchased through iTunes or ordered as a physical copy through MyFavouriteMagazines. What do you think about this incredible design? Discuss in the 3D Printed Rubber Band Raygun forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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