FDM technology 3D printing has a number of flaws and imperfections, however, it is the best and cheapest way to create really large and spectacular prints. On March 21, 2015, together with the DIM-CAD company we scanned the iconic statue of Teddy Floppy Ear, which stands at Piotrkowska street in the city of Łódź. Based on the obtained 3D project, together with 3D Printers we printed out two miniature replicas of the monument, in 1:3 scale, which we presented during our conference which took place a week later. Then came the most difficult part of the whole job – a full-size reproduction of the statue with a height of nearly 1 meter, which was to be presented to one of the kindergartens that took part in the special Teddy competition. The big premiere of the event took place today. The 3D printed Teddy Floppy Ear was given to one of Łódź’s kindergartens, as well as the two miniature versions printed earlier. Here is the story of this extraordinary project, which was met with such a surprising and overwhelming response.
The project’s story is as intricate as it is dynamic… When preparing our conference “3D printing – the future of the industry”, together with Edyta Bąk – the PR Specialist in the Łódź Technopark, we wondered how best to promote our event. The City of Łódź, under whose auspices our conference was conducted, suggested that the 3D printed model should be clearly associated with Łódź. There were many ideas – a replica of the statue of Julian Tuwim sitting on his famous bench or a replica of the 17-meter-high statue of Tadeusz Kościuszko. Eventually we chose the iconic and extremely important to all children monument of Teddy Floppy Ear, standing in front of the Tourist Information Centre at Piotrkowska 87 street in Łódź.
This sparked a flurry of new ideas – it turned out this year marks the 40th anniversary of the first episode of Teddy Floppy Ear. Following on from this, we had the idea that the printed replica of the monument could be given to one of the kindergartens, which in turn resulted in the idea of starting the competition. The competition was to make the best performance of the TV series’ opening song by the children. We invited Ewa Błaszczyk-Janczarska – the famous Polish actress and founder of the Akogo foundation, to cooperate with us.
In the interviews given at the time of Teddy’s 3D scanning I mentioned that the process of 3D printing of the monument’s replica should take about 10 working days. When I said it, I meant, of course, just one 3D printer. It soon became clear how sorely I was mistaken…
Emil Najczuk – the R&D Manager at the 3D Printers, a company manufacturing the HBot 3D printer, agreed to divide the scanned monument into parts, enabling its best and most optimal printing. We immediately decided to choose the HBot because of its very large build size of 30 x 30 x 30 cm, and its adjustment to continuous, long hours of work (our record is 77 hours of non-stop printing). The first print time estimates spoiled our mood… It turned out that the total 3D printing time of all the elements would amount to about 500 hours, or… nearly 21 days of continuous operation. Due to an extremely full agenda of Ms. Ewa Błaszczyk, we knew that we had nowhere near that amount of time. Eventually, after many hours of optimization of the 3D printing timing on the level of the GCode, Emil managed to push it down to “only” 300 hours.
We distributed the work over five 3D printers – one was ours while the other four were at the office of 3D Printers. Teddy was printed with distinctive, copper filament from Orbi-Tech, which perfectly resembled the actual color of the original figure. Unfortunately, this matter was not without minor complications either, at some point it turned out that we bought all the filament in this color available in Poland. We used around 10 rolls of material for the production. The last batch had to be imported by an express delivery from Germany. Finally, the printing of the last part finished on Saturday night/Sunday morning (18/19 April), that is three days before the premiere of the printed Teddy Floppy Ear!
On Sunday, April 19, Emil and Rafal Mrzygłód of the 3D Printers came to Łódź and brought the parts of Teddy, which they printed on their 3D printers in Wrocław. Due to the fact that the offices in Technopark, where we have established our headquarters, are closed on Sunday, the assembly of the printout took place in our garage. Floppy Ear comprised a total of 11 elements, which we put together using various adhesives – from a traditional “Super Glue” to specialist two-component adhesives. Gluing hands and the book that Teddy is holding in one of his paws were the most difficult in the whole process. Fitting the elements together was not a problem, though their unusual positioning relative to the entire model was slightly troublesome. Fortunately, a right mix of adhesives and supports we used while it was drying, effectively resolved the problem.
Independently of our struggles with Teddy’s printing and assembling, the contest among preschoolers was conducted. The children were supposed to sing the series’ theme song – “For a good night – good evening” to the best of their abilities, and their caregivers were to record it and publish it on YouTube. The competition took place on the Technopark fanpage. Although we had some concerns about the number of applications and the voting process, the final result was a big, positive surprise for us. The first prize was awarded to a private inclusive kindergarten “Hear the Heart” in Łódź, which got as many as 943 votes! It was there that the printed 1-meter replica of Teddy went to. The second place and a silver replica of the statue was awarded to the municipal kindergarten no. 66 in Łódź Milutkowo for 815 votes, while the third place and the bronze replica of the statue of Teddy Floppy Ear in a 1:3 scale was awarded to the municipal kindergarten no. 163 in Łódź for 301 votes.
The award ceremony was held in the headquarters of the Tourist Information Centre in Łódź, at Piotrkowska street, where the original Teddy Floppy Ear stands. At 1 PM the press conference was held, with Ms. Ewa Blaszczyk-Janczarska and the representatives of the Technopark. However, the most important people of the day were the children from the three winning preschools who sang the theme song. Only there did we realize what a great experience it was for children to take part in the project. Although the project involved many problems and sacrifices, the sight of such great enthusiasm on the children’s faces when they were receiving Teddy’s replicas was our greatest reward.
Although the idea of creating a replica of Teddy Floppy Ear’s statue was completely spontaneous, in retrospect I see it as one of the best projects which I had the opportunity to participate in since the launch of our website. Our project proved to be quite spectacular, which was confirmed by a great interest of the media as well as numerous reactions of the ordinary inhabitants of Łódź, who had first witnessed the scan of the monument, and then its presentation at Piotrowska street. We are glad that we not only managed to activate the children with such a cool project, but also helped them become familiar with Teddy Floppy Ear, who, despite the passage of time, remains one of the best fairy tales for children, carrying a most positive message – especially in the light of modern productions.
The issue of the positive message was also emphasized by Ms. Ewa Błaszczyk-Janczarska, who indicated several times that today’s cartoons are very much different from those which educated our generation. And unfortunately this is by no means a change for the better. Hopefully, thanks to our event, which received wide coverage in the national media, we have encouraged the parents to familiarize themselves with the fairy tale, which has nothing but the best role models to offer.
Finally, we would like to thank Edyta Bąk from the Łódź Technopark for all the help in the organization of the project, the DIM-CAD company for their help with 3D scanning of Teddy, the 3D Printers for their invaluable assistance in the 3D printing, and Ms. Ewa Błaszczyk-Janczarska for her participation in the project.
Our Teddy Floppy Ear project has made a strong impression on the Polish 3D printing community. With all due respect to our friend at the Fucco Design and Monkeyfab, I believe we have helped to raise the awareness of what 3D printing is among the ordinary people and to popularize the technology in the country. Now it is time for another project with which we will try to raise the bar even higher…