A lot of the news stories that you read about 3D printing involve the many amazing scientific advancements and breakthroughs that have been made possible with it. From the potential to 3D print things like human tissue, medical implants, food, and consumer electronics, our world is on the verge of changing forever thanks to 3D printing. And while those advancements are often times incredible and potentially world-changing, they’re not always a lot of fun.
But 3D printing is also completely changing the way that a lot of hobbyists and artists express themselves. From the genuine cottage industry that has sprung up around 3D printed jewelry to cosplay, prop making, and toy making, desktop 3D printers are becoming an essential tool for an entire generation of creatives. One of the more exciting areas where 3D printing is proving invaluable is the world of scratchbuild model making.
If you’re unfamiliar with the hobby of scratchbuild modelling, it is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Modellers use whatever materials they can get their hands on to create stunning, absurdly realistic scale models of objects like cars, aircraft, and of course cool movie spaceships. Deviantartist Mikoyan99 created an amazing scratchbuilt, studio scale Star Wars TIE Bomber that he made from a combination of aluminum pipes, acrylic tubing, and existing model bits and tied together by designing several 3D printable parts.
“I’ve had model making as a hobby for about as long as I can remember; I tend to build aircraft, wooden ship models and the occasional sci-fi piece. I’ve wanted to build a TIE Bomber model for a few years now; aside from a few ‘garage’ resin kits, there aren’t really any model kits available, so I decided that building my own would be the best bet,” Mikoyan99 explained.
He started by collecting reference material online to create a CAD version of his TIE bomber and he then broke the model down into pieces that he could source and pieces that he would need to design and build. He was able to find the wings in a commercially available modelling kit and then build the rest of the model to scale around them. He designed the individual parts that needed to be 3D printed in gmax and printed them on his school’s UP! 3D printer in PLA.
Once he had his 3D printed components, he post processed them by sanding down the striation, which took him several afternoons of work. Mikoyan99 estimated that each individual part took about two hours to reach a finished state. Once he had all of his parts, he assembled the model and filled in any gaps with putty. The model was finished off with several coats of modelling paint and some weathering effects. The completed TIE bomber ended up being about twelve inches long and about the same width, making it almost exactly the same scale model used in the Star Wars films.
This is clearly a rather impressive scratchbuilt model, and if you compare it to official pictures it is hard to believe that it was made from a bunch of random plastic parts and some 3D printed details.
If you’re interested in learning more about scratchbuilt models you can check out some of his other awesome builds on Mikoyan99’s DeviantArt profile. You can also browse the Replica Props Forum, which is one of the biggest custom model and prop making forums online, and according to Mikoyan99 instrumental in helping design his TIE bomber.