I thought my favorite part of 3D printing would be the ability to access a whole bunch of stuff that just isn’t available in injection-molded kit form (or even resin). And that’s certainly awesome. I mean, I love that I’m working on a 1/48 TIE Interceptor and slowly but surely printing out a 1/12 Cobb Vanth speeder. Because even if Bandai ever gets off their ass and starts making new Star Wars kits, you just know they’d do that speeder in maybe 1/48. Maybe. Surely never in 1/12, where it’s 20 inches long.
I love that I have a Witch King and Maximus and ED-209 and a Babylon 5 Star Fury and a U-Wing and…yeah. Lots to love.
But I kinda expected that wading into it, you know?
What I really love
No. My favorite part, that kinda took me by surprise, is the ability to take an STL and make it my own.
For instance…I can scale the files to whatever size I want. All it takes is a bit of math if I want to hit a particular scale. The TIE Interceptor I’m working on was originally 1/68, and I resized it to 1/48. Imagine being able to do that with plastic kits – and make Tamiya’s P-38 a 1/32 kit just like that.
I can also modify, slice, and otherwise fuck with the files to really make them my own.
That canopy frame on the TIE? I made that. Because the original was way too thick to accommodate clear acetate for the glass.
Or, let’s consider good ol’ Cobb Vanth. When I received the physical speeder kit from Merlin Models in January, I was…disappointed. For a number of reasons. But one of them was that Cobb doesn’t sit well on the speeder seat. He kinda floats on top of it, his hands don’t line up with the handgrips, and the grips are way too small. Plus, while I know it’s accurate to The Mandalorian, I think it’s kinda lame that he’s riding without the Boba Fett helmet on, and I wanted him to be wearing it.
Enter Meshmixer. With this app, you can cut things up, separate the shells of an STL, resize specific elements, and even arrange and combine separate STLs into one.
So that’s exactly what I did.
I sliced off the top of Cobb’s head and replaced it with the little dome thing on the back of the seat meant to hold the helmet. Then I replaced that part of the seat with the part from the original seat. I positioned the good marshal better on the seat, and even a bit into the seat to simulate, you know, actual weight, and to align his feet and hands with the footrests and grips.
Last but not least, I enlarged the grips so that they were a better fit for said hands.
Once that was done and I made as sure as I could digitally that the helmet would fit, I combined everything and got printing.
It took me a bit of time to get the settings right for such a big, complicated, heavy print, but get there I did.
And…come on. That’s just awesome.