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3Dprinting A River

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mrinku writes:

I realise you get a ripple effect from the printing process itself, but seems to me it should be possible to improve on that and have a bit of turbulence on the water section. With careful choices, it should be possible to make each end mate up with the other as far as that goes, to keep the sections isomorphic.

Revision Log
12 March 2017page first published

525 hits since 12 Mar 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian writes:

I've been monkeying around with a parametric 3D model to make river sections on a 3Dprinter. I'm not done with the model, but I have put together a prototype.

The model produces results for rivers and banks as separate pieces, so a complete river is three pieces: left bank, river, right bank. This allows the parts to be printed in different materials, and allows you to have a wider river than if it was a one-piece model.

The major limitation is that the pieces cannot be longer than your 3Dprinter's print area (which, for me, is about 6 inches in length).

Here's the river model output – it's just a box, two inches by five inches, .125" thick:

River model

And here's a bank piece, which is designed to fit over the river piece:

Bank model

I chose to orient the models so that they were standing vertically in the printer. I printed the river banks in green plastic, and the river itself in transparent blue:

3Dprinted model

I suppose you could use the pieces straight from the printer, but I decided to paint and flock the bank pieces, and to apply some gloss coats to the river. I painted the banks a dirt brown color, and the bottoms black. No primer needed, but it takes two to three coats – I paint with the striations first to make sure the paint gets into those crevices, then across the striations while the paint is still wet. Then I sealed with flat spray. For the river, I used about ten fast-drying coats of gloss Mod Podge.

Basecoated 3Dprinted model

I then applied glue to the banks and flocked them, afterward sealing them again. Then I superglued everything together:

Finished 3Dprinted model

And here it is with a familiar figure to give you a sense of size:

Finished 3Dprinted model with GW Grey Knight

Based on the prototype, I've decided to revise the bank pieces when I work on the model next – figures get 'too tippy' on round banks, and making a curved bank piece uses too many triangles when it's round in two dimensions…