One of the things that excited me the most about about getting into 3D printing was the ability to make prop replicas. I'm sure Tested readers can relate! Lightsaber hilt, fertility idol, communicator badge, blaster, you name it and it can probably be printed. This technique is turning up more and more on The Replica Prop Forum (RPF) and is here to stay. Not that 3D printing is a replacement for traditional modeling and sculpting methods; it’s just another tool to get the job done and you pick what works best for the project. You may not have room for a workshop at home, but with some software, a bit of time and access to a printer, you can put a phaser in your hand--even custom fit for your hand!
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I am not a prolific prop builder but I have done my share and will breakdown some of these projects over the next few months. I wanted to start with something relatively simple, so if you’re a Whovian, this project is for you. But even if you’re not of the Gallifreyan fan base, these design and printing tips may help your future projects.
I like Doctor Who and found a nice TARDIS model by Gossamer on Thingiverse, MakerBot’s online repository for sharing 3D models. This was a great starting point, but I wanted to add an LED at the top and this is where Thingiverse gets fun. Since most everything is shared via a Creative Commons license it can be downloaded, modded and re-uploaded as long as the original creator is credited.
Another user, nopoe, had already modded Gossamer’s model to have an LED hole! Perfect! It printed ok, but not great, on my old Thing-o-matic, and a friend put some rough stickers on it. I thought it would be cool to have the windows light up so I modded nopoe’s version to have open windows. Check out the video to see how it was done: