Latvian Komedie Minute: 3D printing a barrel.

Latvian Komedie Minute: 3D printing a barrel.

Makerbot Replicator 2 used for printing set objects for the Latvian Komedie Minute.

Makerbot Replicator 2 used for the Latvian Komedie Minute.

 As a new co-owner of a Makerbot Replicator 2 I was hoping to use the short film to kick-start my waning use of it. My first prints had been complete disasters. I’d jumped in the deep end of the pool by starting out trying to print one of my 3D characters and lets just say that I quickly drowned. They were far to complicated. I spent hours of unguided time trying to figure out why it seemed like everything I printed ended up as a plastic blob. The printer eventually ended up in the corner gathering dust.



Some bad prints off of my Makerbot Replicator 2.


Having seen a 3D Printer Expo advertised on Zbrush Central and after becoming extremely jealous over some of the prints that they were coming out with, I decided that I needed to go. Worth every penny. A lot of people seemed to be having similar issues to me and finding the same limitations. Amazing lectures by the likes of Legacy Effects and some rad tutorials at the zBrush booth really inspired me to give it another go. If you haven’t seen what Legacy is doing with 3D printing you can watch this amazing video.


3D printing a Barrel


Our hero in the Latvian Komedie Minute, Valdis, tells many of the jokes sitting on barrel. A barrel is a pretty straight forward to model and print. Mostly just a bowed cylinder.  Seemed like a great starting place to work through the issues I’d been having with my more complicated ruined prints. I began by model for 3D printing a barrel in Autodesk Maya with different pieces of geometry for the caps, wood, and bands.


Barrel modeled in Autodesk Maya meant to be 3D printed for the Latvian Komedie Minute

I then exported the barrel as an .obj and imported it into zBrush. At one of the lectures at the zBrush booth they made clear the advantages of using Dynameshes to create water-tight versions of your model. Smoothing is a issue I had run into before on some of my prints. If your model is not smoothed enough each individual face is printed and it will come out faceted. I made sure the Dynamesh barrel had enough geometry to seem perfectly smooth.



Barrel prepped for 3D printing in Pixologic’s zBrush for the Latvian Komedie Minute.


This took lots of geometry topping out at around 3 million polygons which creates far too big a file for the printer to handle. So I took advantage of another thing I learned in the lecture, using decimation master to bring the poly count down adaptively so that the mesh doesn’t lose detail. Once that was finished I exported a .stl(which seems to be the universal format for 3D printers) of it for use in the proprietary Makerbot slicing software. To be continued…..