Bubble-Capsule Flying Saucer UFO-01

Making Flying Saucers With Bubble Capsules

Every store has them. Vending machines with promising trinkets in small bubble capsules. I have for some time now wanted to begin making printed objects that incorporate the use of these capsules.

First up: Flying Saucer

ufo01-06 ufo01-04 ufo01-05

This was my first test version. Second print. The first print, the bubble didn’t fit snugly, and the bottom was missing that red gem-light. Also the landing gear legs were a bit too flimsy. I thickened those up just a tad, but it helps immensely.

This print does, however, show off the major weakness of layered printing. Shallow curves that are flat (rather than tall) show up as very visible layers. But I posted these images on facebook and the response was highly encouraging. People liked them and didn’t seem to worry too much about the print limitations.

This is printed at .15mm layers (my printer’s maximum resolution) in FINE mode which is the slowest, for the most accurate, best possible print.

I’m pretty happy with it.

UPDATE: April 30, 2015 – Assembly

Here are the parts (some still with support and raft) that make up UFO-01. Don’t forget, the bubble capsule is not printed, but is from a vending machine.


And here are the parts after the lights, landing gear and connector pegs are cleaned up:ufo01-parts-cleaned-up

Ring Rocket

A simple name, but I wanted to create a rocket based on the shapes I used in a demo video I did in 1994. In that video I had space fighters attacking a battleship. The rear section ended up looking a lot like the rocket you see here. I also wanted to stray a little bit away from the standard colors for a rocket, and experiment with green instead of red with the more standard white, black and silver color schemes. Even then I caught myself putting a touch of red in there:


It is interesting to note that I originally wanted a green stripe around the solid ring at the rear, but I abandoned that idea in favor of printing that entire rear section, fins and ring and all, in one print run. This turned out to be impossible based on the arced curves. The printer needed something solid to raft up to, and this shape was not providing anything. So I sliced the ring where the green stripe appears. Then my printer warped a bit while printing, warping up the connecting seam to about a millimeter in difference, which is something that happens with my printer on large base area prints. So I took the opportunity to model a thin stripe. I actually like it.


The rocket stands on those six “feet” molded into the fins. A keen eye can see a green cone inside the air intake chamber. This forms an inverted cone to match the nose cone, which sits right above a familiar engine piece, which I have used in several previous rockets.


The air intakes are for atmospheric travel, using the turbine engine. Interstellar travel uses an internal air mix, so the turbo intake is only operational in atmosphere.

Twelve windows surround the nose section, with buttressed window frames for safety.


Tri-Dart Royal Rocket Liner

The Tri-Dart is an elegant ship used to courier royalty in and around the galaxy. Sleekly designed to slip through air during launch and landing, it also has no problem navigating the space lanes. Powered by the powerful Vera-Thrust engine system, the ship can travel almost as fast as the fastest intra-galactic military rocketship. It is also available to discerning clientele for commissioned private cruises. See our brochure.

This is how I describe this rocket on Thingiverse.

I wanted to play with simple spherical shapes using similar spherical shapes to boolean-subtract to see how the vaulted arches could form a working rocket ship.

I think the results are interesting at least:


The engine is booleaned out of the groined vault formed when three tall spheroids were cut away from the main body:rocket-tri-dart-02

The 3D Veiled Virgin

As a teen I glimpsed a photo of a marble sculpture of Giovanni Strazza’s Veiled Virgin. It amazed me. It is a perfect sculptural illusion which depicts a sheer gossamer veil in hard solid stone.


There are several examples of this effect in the classical art world; a famous example residing in a convent in St. john’s, Newfoundland which as often happens in life, I never visited because I lived there and took it for granted. The sisters there are rightly intensely proud of their Veiled Virgin.

So this week I found a 3D model of Strazza’s Veiled Virgin on Turbosquid. I have never paid for a 3D model but the perfection of the artist’s work, modeling from photographic references, deserved money and I paid it.

I printed it on my Afinia H480 3D printer.


New Thunderbird 3

Thunderbirds is 50 years old this year. ITV is celebrating this anniversary by introducing Thunderbirds Are Go!, a new CGI TV version of the original, updated quite a bit and intended to reach a new youth audience.

Three episodes in, I can see real potential. They’ve done a few things ardent fans dislike, like making Thunderbird 3 go on routine space garbage maintenance runs, but one thing they did very well was re-imagine the Thunderbirds themselves, the amazing vehicles used in International Rescue.

Here is the original Thunderbird 3 on the left, and its update. This one was a bit jarring for fans because Thunderbird 3 has suddenly taken on some square aspects that led many to call it the Lego version:

tb3-model-01 tbagtb3

And while I spent some time last year modeling a very nice version of the original:


…and a lot of time on the new Thunderbird 1 as well:


I thought it was time to model the new Thunderbird 3. (And as well, perhaps look into modeling the old Thunderbird 1, but that’s for another post.)

So I spent about two hours last night modeling, and here’s what I’ve come up with so far. There isn’t a lot of detail yet, but the framework is there:


Clearly, proportion and detail will have to have some work done, but the first step is to flesh out a fairly accurate basic model, then fix the issues.

UPDATE: April 20 – Model Is Mostly Complete

I spent the last two days printing test pieces to prove the concept of the two main hinges that allow Thunderbird 3 to use its arms to grasp items in space.


I found that it all worked ok, but with varying brittleness. Circular hinges can be brittle if they are not thick enough, and I’m constrained by scale here. But I thickened them up after finding a breaking point, and hopefully now it works.

I then spent time adding body detail, including inlaid “THUNDERBIRD” and “3”.

So here is an exploded view of all of the parts needed to put this model together.


Note that a lot of the parts shown have multiples, such as the entire arm assembly, the “3”, several inlaid body details, etc.

This orthographic side view does not show a lot of the detail, not because of the size of the screen grab but because of the flat lighting.

I decided to make life easier for me when it comes to the cables that attach at the bottom of the arm “elbow” section. I modeled holes. I’m going to use flexible black filament cut into lengths for the cables. Clever, I think!

UPDATE: April 22 – Printing has begun. 

Here is a tray full of parts. And some test-fitting with occasional slight tweaks and re-printing. I’m doing the whole body and one single arm now, and when that arm works, I will print the other two arms.


UPDATE: April 24, 2015 – Assembly

Here is a layout of all the parts (noting that this only shows one of the arms):

newtb3-parts-01 newtb3-parts-02 newtb3-parts-03

And now we begin by assembling the body from bottom up:

The “3” is inlaid into the body, with the black ring attached. The vanes have the first white ring glued.newtb3-assembly-01

Then the vane section is attached to the bottom, with the connector ring on top:newtb3-assembly-02

The “THUNDERBIRD” text gets inlaid:newtb3-assembly-03


The fine positioning nozzles are just raw black filament, inserted into holes and cut:


Nosecone added, and entire body assembled:

Now for the arms. Here, I begin attaching the secondary thruster housings:


Now for the articulated arms. Each Arm has two joints, one at the “shoulder”, and one at the “elbow”, if you want an analogy to an actual arm. The “hand” consists of two triangles which in the show extend and open. In this model, that would be difficult to achieve properly so I’m just using a solid closed claw “hand” in this model, and later will model an extended version. These hands are not glued in place, so later, I can just pop these out and replace them for the fully extended hand grapples.

First, the “elbow” joint is made with three rings, two on one piece, and one on the other. A two-piece pin inserts into the hinge and glues together:newtb3-assembly-10

Which makes them hinge nicely:newtb3-assembly-11

I test-fit the wrist cuff and hand to the elbow piece:

The lower arm is glued to the hinged section:

These get attached to the upper arms in exactly the same way with more two-piece pin pairs, forming a two-jointed arm system. Then 24 windows get glued in place.
newtb3-assembled-01  newtb3-assembled-02


So the arms extend in exactly the same way they do in the TV show:arms-open

You may notice the hydraulic cables that work the elbow joints. They are raw black filament melted into shape into six holes on each arm. In this photo you only see one arm done, but in my final picture, they are all done:


For what is a pretty decent version of this:


Menorah for a Friend

For Hanukkah this past year I made this for a friend.


I’m sure it’s not perfect, but I did try. Each holder has a bolt to prevent melting of the plastic. This s really a prototype. I had hoped to print it in metal at some point but that would be incredibly expensive. The Shamash (helper holder) is the tallest one at the back and contains a blue candle. These are simply birthday candles, and this Menorah was meant to be symbolic, not actually used (since buring the candles down will likely melt the adjoining holders.) But I enjoyed making it for her.

Luxury Rocket

In my continuing series of rocket designs, I spent some time last week designing a sleek rocket whose fins sweep down the entire length of the body.


It’s hard to see, but rivets line the body on either side of each fin, and along both rims of the engine section. The window is printed in glow-in-the-dark blue because I like how that looks as reflective glass.

Here is the underside, showing re-use of an engine detail that I modeled for an entirely different purpose but have used in several projects since.


It was first designed for a GI Joe project, an ice blaster.

at-ice-blaster-front-view-01I used that central core (fused into one part) to create a jetpack for a Corgi which I designed and printed for a friend. (I did not design or model the dog, I just used it with my own jetpack design.)

I also used it on my Jetpack Rocket:


My rocket collection so far:


Left top right: Luxury Rocket, Rocket Jockey Ship, Silver Bullet Rocket, Fathers Day Rocket, 3DAGOGO Rocket, Jetpack Rocket, Regular Joes Rocket(s). (One for me and one for each of the Regular Joes.) (That’s the Regular Joes Podcast, which, if you’re not listening to it, you’re missing out.)

Jetpack Corgi!

My friends Chonny and Jess have two corgis and Chonny and I once discussed 3D printing a corgi with a jetpack. While I would find modeling a corgi arduous, I was not above downloading one. I can’t remember where I found it but I did manage to find a good corgi. The body was a bit long, so I cut that down a bit. But I did design this jetpack with the Rocketeer jetpack in mind.


jetpack-corgi-03 jetpack-corgi-04 jetpack-corgi-06