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How did I start using 3D printer for miniatures?

3D Printing

"My daughter was spending a lot of time building houses in Roblox. That night she was designing a house on Roblox, and I suggested she draw her house in TinkerCAD. She asked me if I want her to design a house in Tinkercad the why don’t I? So that night, I printed the house via a 3D printer and there was a house waiting for her when she woke up in the morning. At that point, she was interests in designing a house in TinkerCAD that was much 'cooler' than mine.”

▲3D printed miniature house

That was how David Barth and his daughter started using 3D printers for miniatures. David Barth is a forty-year-old dad of two daughters. He had been a drafter for a few years where he got an introduction to 3D design. “I have always enjoyed tinkering and playing with AutoCAD, and 3D printing just made that even more fun”, said David.

Flashforge happily learned Barth family’s story of 3D printing miniature houses and launched a interview with David then. Let’s follow those interview questions to see what exciting 3D life Barth family are living!

Q1: It seems that you’ve tried many 3D design programs (tinkerCAD, blender, AutoCAD, FreeCAD) and my question is what makes you get interested in making 3D models?

I have always enjoyed geometry, designing and building things since I was young. When I was a kid, I was always building something with Legos, blocks, cards, or anything else I could stack. In high school, I started using AutoCAD to create floor plans. Since then, I have continued to design and drafter floor plans as a hobby and I  used Sketchup, FreeCAD, Blender, and Fusion 360 to expand my 3D design skills. 

▲ Floor Plan made in July 2003 by David Barth

And when I saw my preteen daughter interested in something that I am also interested in, I suggested she design houses in Tinkercad since it is pretty easy to use. Through the process of designing a miniature house model she’ll learn useful skills.  Tinkercad is easy to use, and easily exports STL files which are used on the 3D printer slicing software

Here is a Youtube video of me creating a 3D miniature house on TinkerCAD:


▲David creating a floor plan on TinkerCAD

Q2: Why do you think 3D printing made that (Doing 3D design on computer programs) more fun?

Many people have trouble seeing 2D floor plans, so being able to have a 3D model, whether in foam board or 3D printout, gives people a visually scaled entity where they can see how one part of the structure relates to another part. I will be the first to admit that handcrafted finesse isn’t my thing, so the ability to user a 3D printer to print something I designed, removing me from the hand creating equation, is great.

Q3: What 3D printers are you using for printing miniatures? 

In fact, our first 3D printer was purchased because my daughter needed to invent something for a class project. I knew little about 3D printing at that time, but a week later we had a Flashforge Adventurer 3 lite. I always like an excuse to do something fun with my kids. 

Before long, I quickly upgraded from my Adventure 3 Lite to the Flashforge Creator Pro 2, which has a larger build volume and with two extruders. It allows using dissolvable PVA for supports and I had a lot of fun playing with the Creator Pro 2. For me, there has always been satisfaction in designing and building something. 3D printers allow for an easy way to build something at a low cost and relatively quickly. If it worked, great. If not, time to make some modifications, and print again. 

▲3 3D printing a miniature house on Flashforge Creator 2

Q4: Could you share more of your experience on using 3D printers to make creations?

I don’t know how many models I have created or how many numbers of test prints I have done. Besides 3D printing miniature houses, I have printed things I found online, little toys or things that were interesting. Mostly I just tinker with the design software and then see how it prints out, like trying to make cogs, stacking blocks, signs, and so on. We printed a practice bow to build arm strength for a school project, and now we are working on a “robot” for a second-grade assignment. One of my first designs was a Kleenex box holder that was mounted to my cubical wall to free up desk space. 
Currently, I am trying to create a little desktop fountain, and so there have been several test prints. It feels great when something works, and when it doesn’t you learn something and adjust. 

Q5: As an experienced 3D printer user, could you make some suggestions for new beginners of 3D printing?

3D printing always has challenges. I frequently see people who are new to 3D printing posting about having issues. They buy a printer, downloaded something, picked a more difficult filament, and then things don’t work. I recommend printing simple objects like a cube from Tinkercad, use simple print filament like PLA, and start with middle of the temperature range. Once you know the printer is printer, and things are sticking to the bed, then start adjusting and trying to print other objects. 3D printers and not like a traditional paper printer, you need to understand how your slicer and printer work. 

You don’t need to be an expert on any everything, but learn to do some simple stuff first, get those early successes, and then try more complicated things. 

Specifically, when 3D printing a mini house, you need to think about your print volume, since you will most likely need to scale your print to fit on the bed. Houses have opening, and those opening will need supports. You could use a dissolvable filament, but I have found that with the houses I have printed using the same filament has been fine since it has been pretty easy to remove – but you may need to play with your support settings. Once you have successfully printed a house, then start adjust settings like the print speed, and layer thickness to until you find acceptable results. Since houses are generally pretty simple you may find thicker layers will save you some print time. 

▲4 David's 3D printed mini house with TUP furniture

Flashforge editor writing in the end

We are happy to do the interview with David Barth. Through his story of 3D printing miniature houses, we are glad to share with you his love for plan drawing, for 3D model designing and for 3D printing with Flashforge 3D printers. Also, we are touched by this warm and considerate dad, who’d like to set examples for his daughters with his practical actions, who’d like to accompany and guide his kids to meaningful upward life, and who’d like to make balance between working on office projects and maintaining home yard.

Good dad and enjoy your life!

▲David Barth family