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  • Writer's pictureBlaxkleric

3D Printing - Day Two - Unsuccessful Scaling And Supports

Updated: Nov 6, 2022

A 28mm resin print of a Monk Hero by "Titan Forge Miniatures" with supports by "Chitubox" Basic

These various miniatures were 3D printed using "Elegoo" Water Washable Resin on a Mars 3 Pro 3D Printer and are available as STL (Standard Triangle Language) files from "Titan Forge Miniatures" and "SplunJohnny" on "Cults" respectively. The Monk Hero is actually one of several free models which come in a digital Welcome Pack once you have subscribed to the "Polish based sculpting/casting/inspired-and-head-blown" company's Patreon service. Whilst the "Doctor Who" figures can be bought individually.

None of the figures came supplied with any supports (or at least I didn't spot the supported version of the Monk Hero until later on) so they all gave me a chance to apply my own supports to each miniature using "Chitubox" Basic. In addition, I wanted to see how the programme's scaling feature worked, so set about shrinking my Doctor Who STLs down from 100mm to 15mm in height simply by reducing them to 15% of their original size.

Rescaled 15mm resin test prints of Leela, the Seventh Doctor, a Zygon and the Kandy Man

This all seemed to work out quite well initially, as "Chitubox" has a handy little feature which automatically provides sculpts with supports with just a click of a button. All you have to do is decide whether you want Light, Medium or Heavy supports - the bulkier being more stable during the printing process, but potentially harder to subsequently remove without damaging the model once it's been printed. Furthermore, there is an option to place the base of each STL hard down on the actual plate of the printer, so the figure is literally built from the feet up.

Such a technique clearly gives the build plate plenty of grip on the miniature straight from the start. However, as its initial layers are 'overcured' so as to ensure a secure bond, the bottom of the model might not be as flat as a person might want and suffer from 'Elephant's Foot' - which is why so many companies who produce STLs provide the bases as pre-supported files which sit at an angle well away from the actual build plate's surface.

A 100mm tall STL of the Sixth Doctor shrunk to 15mm and supported through "Chitubox" Basic

As a result, I decided to have three of my diminutive "Doctor Who" figures 'floating' on supports, and the other half sat snugly on the build plate with just a few additional supports keeping their arms etc in place. Approximately three hours later I discovered the error of my ways and realised that when 3D printing anything quite so fragile as 15mm some seriously numerous supports are probably needed if the miniatures' bases aren't placed flat on the build plate. Sadly, this meant both the Sixth Doctor and poor Ace never saw the light of day and were turned into blobs of hardened resin stuck firmly on the bottom of my resin tank.

Of course, such a minor catastrophe did mean I now needed to quickly learn how to clean the tank of my printer, so understandably I immediately turned to the company's official "Elegoo Mars: How to clean the resin vat after printing" video on YouTube. However, after a quick scan of its comments revealed this was not the way to do it (unless you wanted to potentially badly damage the FEP), I simply emptied the tank and followed the extremely sage advice of 'pushing lightly underneath the transparent film where any solid resin was stuck" and delightfully watched them "come off easily without scraping." In addition, I also learnt that the paper funnels supplied with the machine allow the resin to flow straight through the entire cone, not just the 'filter' at its bottom - which resulted in almost an entire tank of resin accidentally spilling all over the table and floor...

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