People who like anime, comics and games must be familiar with “garage kits”(abbreviated to GK); these are amateur made model kits with no paint.
However, as it evolved, garage kits began to encompass collectible figurines and models of buildings, cars, plants, and more.
Next, the garage kits we talk about does not refer to a specific type of model.
We all know that garage kits are usually quite expensive.
Firstly, it is because of its realistic details; even the subtle facial expressions, wrinkles in clothing, and hair can be shown in detail. Secondly, they are collectibles because they are limited editions. Therefore, the higher price is not a problem for consumers. Garage kit fans find joy in collecting the models.
So how are these refined garage kits made? I will unveil the secrets of the garage kit today.
Conventional garage kit production：
Concept image design——Overall molding——Detail sculpting——Parting, Rolling over (GK white mold)——Polishing correction——model painting——Finish.
(Plain style complete, picture source KiKing)
The entire process takes several steps: sculpting, polishing, painting, etc. This is time consuming and demanding on the prototype maker.
Completing a garage kit often takes months of meticulous work. Because they are purely handmade, it tests the creator’s skill, patience, and experience to their limits.
(Detail sculpting and polishing, picture source KiKing)
Sometimes, during the process, the kit requires major redesigns and because the prototypes are made from sludge and clay, it could mean the maker would need to start from scratch which costs time and labor.
Therefore, after the appearance of 3D printing, many makers have started to use 3D printing technologies to create their prototypes. It is more convenient to make adjustments to the model this way. After quantifying the models, the scale of the model can be more accurate using the digital dimensions without having to only rely on the maker’s experience and skill. Furthermore, modularization, impossible with traditional production, can be achieved through 3D printing. This means parts from different models can be re-used; effectively reducing production costs and increasing efficiency.
3D printing garage kits:
Concept design (3D digital model)——Printing——Polishing and sculpting——Parting, Rolling over (GK white mold)——Polishing correction——model painting——Finish.
3D printing has mainly transformed traditional prototypes from hand sculpted to quantified sculpting. By going directly from a 3D model on the computer to 3D printing the prototype, the process is significantly faster than hand sculpting, and modification can be made more easily. Most importantly, the precision of the printed prototype is just as good as the final product.
Currently, there are two types of 3D printing used in the prototyping process: one is using DLP devices which utilizes photosensitive resin and the other is using FDM devices which uses PLA plastics. However, most are still resin based models.
PLA material (Finder printer) Resin material (Hunter printer)
Below is a garage kit printing process using a Hunter printer shared by one of our users:
Designing the kit using the computer.
Exporting the 3D model and slicing it using Flashprint.
Printing complete. Removing the supports to show the final product.
From the pictures we can see that 3D printing has completed several garage kit prototypes at the same time. This only took around a dozen or few dozen hours to complete, whereas, a maker will take at least a month to do the same.
(Displaying the details)
It is also easy to create the same model in different sizes.
Finished garage kit (Hunter printer rollover and paint)
The most professional makers use resin to print. Hobbyist can also use PLA to complete exquisite garage kit creations (of course the person must also have good finishing skills).
（Dreamer printer creations）
Below is a demonstration of the FDM device print process:
(Finishing process and painting)
3D printing technology is valuable to the production of garage kits. From materials, time, and efficiency, 3D printing has made large improvements to each aspect. Although there are still some limitations, it has an advantage in the development and production of garage kits. It is also becoming more and more accepted by prototype makers.
After seeing so many refined garage kits made using Flashforge equipment, we can not help but feel a little pride. It has also inspired us to improve our equipment and materials and invest more in the application of our products.