Print Your Video Game Character in 3D

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I’m a big fan of video game character toys (recently springing for a killer set of posable Orbital Frames from Zone of the Enders), but as characters become more customizable, 3D printing may be the better way to bring your personalized gaming persona into the real world. FigurePrints can export your battle-weary, Level 90 Paladin from World of Warcraft or your hand-built, palatial masterpiece from Minecraft and print them on Z Corp machines in all their full-color glory. MineToys will print a figurine with your Minecraft skin.

For the DIYer with more retro sensibilities, Mikola Lysenko posted an ingenious method for creating 3D models from 8-bit style characters. Old favorites Mario and Zelda can now face off against new favorites like Meat Boy and Gomez for the fate of your desk space!

Push Puppets

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For a fun, quick project, update the classic push puppet toy, where you push the button and the figure collapses, then let it go and it springs back up. Thingiverse user Spencer Renosis shows how to design your puppet in Tinkercad, 3D print the parts, then add fishing line and a spring.

Make It Stand

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Ever print something awesome, only to realize there’s no way it can stand on its own? Researchers from the Interactive Geometry Lab at ETH Zurich University developed free software to optimize 3D models to balance in crazy ways. You select one or more base points, then the program alters the outer surface and inner mass to balance the object. The results are awesomely precarious.

Glow Plug 3D Extruder

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There are very few, if any, open designs for a 3D printer hot-end and extruder that don’t require 3D printed parts. Here’s an exception. Make: author Adam Kemp shows you how to build a high-performance extruder using only a handful of tools and parts, including a diesel glow plug from the auto parts store.

DIY Photogrammetry

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Autodesk’s 123D Catch is great for making 3D scans from digital photos, but it’s a cloud-based freebie that limits the number of your photos and the resolution of the resulting 3D mesh. Digital compositor Jesse Spielman wrote an incredible tutorial showing how to use VisualSFM to roll your own point clouds without arbitrary limits, then use Meshlab to generate a mesh and paint it with the full-resolution photo texture.

Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014This article first appeared in Make:‘s Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014, page 54. Check out the full issue for more!