This past month, my mom and I decided to really use our 3D printer to the best of its abilities– to 3D print some ball jointed dolls! Found on the popular 3D printing site Thingiverse, these projects turned out to be winners!
The first project we decided to print was Froggy. Froggy was designed by an artist named Loubie. I am estimating it took me 26 or so hours to complete this print. I didn’t start keeping track of the hours each piece took until Robotica, who you’ll see next! Unlike the other two projects you’ll see, Froggy took some gluing before he was able to be strung. My favorite parts of him are his huge frog feet and his fantastically sculpted/designed face. Froggy was printed in green Dremel brand PLA filament. He wasn’t the simplest thing to string, but eventually we got him together.
The second project we printed also took around 26 hours to complete and is pretty awesome! Meet Robotica. She’s the creation of doll artist Shira (aka Sonja Verdu). Shira made an amazing sculpt/design for Robotica, which includes a cool panel like skin, a well defined bust/torso and some pretty awesome leg pieces. Robotica has a headcap, which allows you to do whatever you want with the eye area. My Robotica is currently using dark blue beads as eyes. She was printed with InLand temperature sensitive PLA. In cold temps, she’ll turn dark blue and in warmer temps, she’ll turn white-ish! For some reason, as you will see in the pictures below, she photographs purple in low light.
Because I strung her legs poorly, she won’t stand, but if someone who was a master at stringing worked on her, I bet she’d be really great at standing. I’m not going to worry about it for now, though, because she looks fine sitting and her arms and head are strung tight enough for me to pose her upper body. Robotica’s hands move forward and backward. Her wrists were supposed to turn, but my printer fused these pieces together.
The last project we tried was also designed by Shira. This time, we printed her smaller Jointed Robot. My mom requested him. He took about 9 hours to print and was a terror to string (those darn arms), but we managed it eventually! I love how the robot turned out, myself. The print, especially his face, is adorable. I think I may try to print this guy larger one of these days. (The same goes for Robotica. There was a company that printed her human size and the results look pretty cool!) If you do decide to print this Jointed Robot, you may run into issues with his fingers. I printed the hand, which included three fingers, multiple times and each time I did, the fingers, made to move independently, would break (or fall off). In the end, we had to glue these fingers into place.
Now, you may be thinking, ‘I don’t have a 3D printer, so I can never make these.’ Wrong. Many libraries nowadays are buying 3d printers and things for their patrons to use, so there’s a good chance that if you’re determined and okay with making several trips to, for example, your library, you can actually print one of these for your own collection! (Many schools are buying 3D printers, too, so if you’re a student, you may have access to one!) On top of that, there are sites that will actually print STL files for you and then ship you the results. Shapeways offers this service, but I’m sure there are also many other sites around that might be able to do this for you. It may be a little more costly then finding a local haunt with a rentable 3D printer, but it’s an option!
The number of projects on the internet for BJD’s like these are slim at the moment, but I hope more artists try their hand at making 3D printable dolls for us to enjoy! This whole thing makes me think about Makies, the 3D printed doll company that closed up shop early this year. (Find real printable Makies files on Thingiverse here!) Wouldn’t it have been interesting if they had evolved into something that was more ‘do it yourself’, rather than doing all the printing in house? If they had created files that were easy to print and modify for users to print on their own printers, saving them the cost of all that filament? (Sure they wouldn’t be as pretty or well constructed, but if printing these three dolls taught me anything, it’s that it’s so cool being able to say you printed your own BJD!) It’s an interesting thought.
So, I’ll leave you with this question. With 3D printers making their way from industrial plants into homes, how do you see them affecting the doll market? Do you plan on trying your hand at printing your own BJD or even designing your own? (I’m not talented enough to do that, so if you are, why not try!) Let me know in the comment area!