3D Printing for Sculpture

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Sculpture making is one of the oldest forms of art. The oldest sculptures date back to the 8th millennium BC.

Michelangelo, in response to the question, “How do you make your sculptures?”, answered “I take a stone and cut off all unnecessary.” Nevertheless, even in such conservative activities, new technologies are actively being used. One of the technologies that is finding application in sculpture making is 3D printing.

Where to Find 3D Model

If you want to get started with 3D printing, you need to find a 3D model. In the case of sculptures, there are 3 sources to consider:

1. 3D Modeling

If you have the skills, you can make your own 3D files through 3D modeling. Since the sculpting of sculptures is a creative process, it is also necessary to master a 3D modeling program to create an original 3D model.

One of the most popular 3D modeling software is ZBrush. This program has a wide range of functions that allow you to work with an object in the form of a piece of clay. The clay can be pressed, pulled, smoothed, grasped or squeezed to give it its final look.

Apart from Zbrush, here are other 3D modeling software for 3D printing that we recommend. Alternatively, watch the video below for a rundown of the software.

2. 3D Scanning

The second method of obtaining a 3D model is 3D scanning. This method is handy when it is easier to scan an object than to create it anew. For example, if a specific sculptural composition, for example a car model, it is much easier and faster to scan it with a 3D scanner for cars.

Also, if a sculpture of a specific person is being created, then you can scan his figure or face. After scanning, the model can be modified in one of the graphic 3D-editors.

3. Download a 3D File

The third way to get a 3D model is to search for a finished model on sites such as Thingiverse. Here, you can use an existing model as a blank to create a new composition using deep processing or rework. We’ve previously covered where to get 3D printing files.

Now that we know how a sculptor can get a 3D model, let’s find out how 3D printing can be applied in sculpture. We will cover specific examples, from small to large.

Let’s get started.

3D Printing for Sculpture

1) Scanning and printing a tin soldier

In our studio where we manufacture tin soldiers, we had the task of producing a batch of miniature copies of the finished tin soldier.

We scanned the finished model with an EinScan-SP 3D scanner.

We then 3D printed a soldier of the same size on a Wanhao GR-1 3D printer.

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You can see the specs of the Wanhao GR-1 3D printer here.

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After making sure that the model matched the original, we printed a small copy of the required size from a burned-out photopolymer:

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Then a batch of little tin soldiers was cast.

2) Creating a hanging sculpture of David for the interior of the bar

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According to the designer’s idea, the famous David (Michelangelo) in a swimming pose was to be placed under the ceiling in the Moscow bar Apr.l.
The task was not easy nor cheap. Using 3D printers helped to significantly reduce the cost of the project and simplify its implementation.
First, they made a model of the classic David in a 3D program, changing his pose. Then, the model was divided it into many parts in a 3D slicer program. Finally, the model was printed on Raise3D Pro 3 and Flashforge Inventor 3D printers .

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Parts of the statue were bonded with glue-moment, and then finished with automotive plaster and tinting. The result is a sculpture about 5 meters long (with an outstretched arm).

A metal frame was then made for David. Its ears were attached and hung from concrete and crossbars. The final task was painting the statue.

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It was not possible to implement this project in any other way.

The plastic used in 3D printing is significantly lighter than plaster, stone or clay. This attribute is especially important for ceiling structures.

In addition, plastic is also much cheaper than other materials and takes less time to be worked on, since the main work is performed by the printer.

3) Creation of the exposition “Winter Olympic sports”

In honor of the Olympic Games in Sochi, the task was to make 17 figures of athletes, personifying winter sports. The figures were supposed to be lightweight and light conductive. To accomplish this, the team opted for 3D printing.

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To implement this project, ROBOTMASH used 30 Picaso Designer XL 3D printers and 340 kilograms of SBS translucent plastic. The printing time for each figure was about 2.5-3 days. The total completion term was 1 month.

While some parts were being printed, others were glued and processed.

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It is difficult to achieve the light transmission and at the same time keep the sculpture density light in another way other than 3D printing. Moreover, the project would have taken much more time if it was done in another way

3D Printing Equipment for Creating Sculptures

To finish this feature, let’s talk a little about 3D equipment that is suitable for creating sculptures.

First of all, you need a 3D scanner .

Here, we can recommend the products of Shining 3D, the world leader in the production of 3D scanners.

In their line, I would like to mention the Pro 2X Plus model, which, in combination with additional modules, can solve any tasks a sculptor faces: from scanning medals to scanning cars.

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Before buying a 3D printer, it is worth identifying the challenge you are facing. Here is a guide on How to Choose a 3D Printer.

When it comes to printing small models with high detail, then resin 3D printers are best suited here. Good models to consider here are the Phrozen 3D Printers and UNIZ Slash Plus .

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Both printers have a matrix with 4K resolution. Therefore, they provide high quality models with the highest detail of small elements. These printers are ideal for solving the problems of example number 1 (the tin soldier).

You can see other printers for different budgets in our guide of the Best SLA 3D Printers.

In the next two examples, classic FDM printers were used. These units print models with filament.

Keep in mind that example number 2 (the statue of David) used at least 10 printers at the same time, while example number 3 (Olympic sculptures) used 30 printers to meet the very tight timeframe for making models.

Large format 3D printers are used to create large objects. However, to create large 3D models, it is not necessary to buy huge printers. It is better to buy several medium-sized printers. These improve productivity, and seams from gluing can be very easily masked during post-processing.

Several printers working at the same time will complete the necessary work much faster. Moreover, if one of them breaks down, your project will still not be delayed.

Need help in choosing the necessary 3D printing equipment for sculpture work? Get in touch with the professionals at our company.

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