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Monday, 11 October 2010

DIY 4mm/00 people

I get great pleasure from photographing my model railway by staging a scene in a photograph of the prototype. The next one I have in mind is of a train waiting in the platform with a few passengers on the platform, some seeing off their friends or relations.

I have scoured the web for commercially available little people and found a couple that could do for some of them. But, there are others for which commercial models do not fit well either because of fashion/period or their stance. So, I need to consider creating my own little people.

There seems to be three methods open to me.

1) 3D printing is a very exiting technology and going to be very big for manufacturing at home. There are two systems (MakerBot and RepRap Mendel) that fall into the category of 'Open Source Hardware'. What this means is that the system design is publicly available and the parts can be obtained individually from a variety of suppliers or, as a complete kit for DIY assembly.

Our little people have to be built in 3D design software, like the free Google SketchUp, and the resulting STL file loaded into the 3D printer. The actual model is made in open air on an XYZ platform using ABS plastic that is melted and ejected from a nozel.

The Open Source DIY systems means the cost is well under £1,000. Unlike commercially available printers that run into 5 figures.

But this is not yet for me because the outlay is still too much to risk when I have not seen how good the design output and build quality of 4mm scale people is.

2) Moulding requires making a model in clay or something mailable like soap and creating a mould from it which is then used to produce robust replicas in resin or whitemetal. I think I saw a start up whitemetal moulding kit for about £40. This is ok if we want to create duplicates to sell, for example.

3) Modelling is about making the little people individually from a clay material like FIMO. Here is a link to a How To.. This approach is very low cost, a few pence per person. The tricky bit it seems to me is creating the head with facial features. I have an idea how to achieve that.

I'm going to attempt 3).

To Part 2

2 comments:

  1. Gosh!

    I think you're very brave!

    I'll be very interested to see how you get on, if you're kind enough to share your efforts on this blog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Only partial success in last nights attempt. Trying again and will report via my blog.

    ReplyDelete

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