3D printing craft

A Farewell to Arms

Creating 200 figures of Marshal Jozef Pilsudski was one of the biggest undertakings we had the opportunity to work on in the recent months. The project was not only spectacular but also extremely demanding in various aspects: technical, artistic, and organizational. For CD3D, it marks the end of a certain business phase and is a prelude to upcoming strategic changes.

Stiglass, a producer of artistic promotional products (trophies, statues and medals) from Suwałki, Poland, asked us to create 3D printed miniature statuettes based on a 3D scan of a Piłsudski monument from their home town. Józef Piłsudski is a figure much respected by Poles. He was a a Polish statesman and a de facto leader of the Second Polish Republic.

Piłsudski monument in Suwałkach; photo: suwałki24.pl

3D printed figures were supposed to be 18 cm high and we were also responsible for painting and finish them so that they resembled the original statue the best. Stiglass would then mount a stone pedestal with a commemorative plaque to the bottom of the statuette. Good level of detail, smooth surface and authentic look were the key issues of the project.

The recipient of the figures was Polish Army, an Artillery Squadron from Suwałki, whose patron is Józef Piłsudski. A presentation of the statuettes was part of the Squadron’s celebration day. The project was divided into two stages of 100 figures each. We were provided with a 3D scan which was of very good quality, but in its initial form it was not suitable for 3D printing in one piece using FDM technology.

Numerous modifications were necessary not only to improve the printability 3D model, but also to ensure safe transportation for the figures. We had to simplify some elements of the statue: hands and handle of the saber. It was also necessary to divide the model into parts that would 3D print quickly and without support.

Dividing the model into parts has proven to be quite challenging – not because of the 3D printing process itself, but because of the pedestal to be glued to the figures later, which turned out to be … nearly two kilograms of granite. Originally selected dividing pattern, which assumed cutting Marshal at the ankles, turned out to be a mistake, since such a small glueing plane posted a threat to the cohesion of the model under a huge burden of granite

Therefore, when printing the second series, we strenghtened critical places in the model using Meshmixer and we also decided to cut the model at the waist instead of at the ankles. We also used a stronger adhesive – an epoxy glue, Permatex Plastic Welder, instead of cyanoacrylate.

We used black Spectrum filaments for the entire project. Most of the elements were printed on Monkeyfab Prime 3D using Spectrum Filaments PLA. We also used Zortrax’ M200 machines with Spectrum Filaments ABS and a 3DGence (with PLA)

Outlines of the project assumed that a smooth surface is a must, so figures were printed on a 0.14-0.15 mm layer height. The printing time of all the components for a single statue was about 10 hours.

Since 3D printing is a process mostly done by machines, printing all the elements for the figures did not get under our skin as much as glueing, filling, sanding, painting and gilding the statues afterwards.

Each of the figures required a huge amount of manual work. First, precise gluing, then filling any voids using acrylic filler. Excess putty had to be then sanded down to smooth out the surface of the model. Next, the statue had to be cleaned of dust and coated evenly with a base paint (acrylic, dark turquoise).

The next steps required a bit of an artistic sense: first, a wax patina (Metallic Gilding Wax “Patina” by Creative Expressions) was applied selectively to the model. Then, the most exposed parts of the monument were treated with a pewter-gold wax (Treasure Pewter by Connoisseur’s Studio). This way, in the reverse order, we simulated the weathering processes that act on a real monument. The last step was to cover the statues with a fixative spray.

Early prototypes: different finishing options

We also made a larger replica of the statue, half a meter high, and finished analogically to the smaller figures:

The results of our work were on display on September 18th during the fifth celebration day of the Suwalki Artillery Squadron. The figures which we produced were presented to soldiers and military employees:

Photos: [2], [[17-20], [21]

Adela Walczak
Rapid Prototyping specialist, graduate of Product Design Engineering and Paper Making and Polygraphy, vice champion of Poland in curling.

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