This month, we got to talk to Louise Driggers (or Loubie, as she’s usually known in 3D printing communities) about her designs! If you’re a maker, you’ve definitely seen her designs out there. She’s got some great iconic ones that can test both your 3D printing skills, and your ability to customize and post-process prints. Let’s learn more about where she gets ideas for her next designs, and what tips she has for the designer and maker community!
Pinshape: You’ve got a very diverse range of 3D designs— from secret lock boxes, to articulate dolls! How do you choose what to make next? What inspires you?
Louise: I have a wide range of interests and enjoy learning how things are made. I read a lot, but mostly non-fiction, either technical manuals or history books. The past is full of inspiration and I love fusing those ideas with modern technology. I have a long, ever-growing list of things I want to make. Some of these ideas have been with me since childhood!
Pinshape: Something like the Scarab Beetle Box must’ve taken ages to make. What’s your planning process when it comes to designing these complex models? And how do you figure out what parts you’ll need to build? How long does it take?
Louise: It’s true, they do take a long time to design and make. Sometimes weeks, sometimes months if I have to learn a new technique or application. The process from concept to completion can vary, but I’ll always start with a moving image of what I want in my head.
For example, with my Scarab Beetle box, it was a jewelled scarab, whose wing case opened to reveal a secret compartment. I’ll do some sketches which include the desired look as well a concept of how it might be constructed. Work then starts on a very plain version of the model to establish functionality, ease of assembly and suitability for FDM printing. This is the hardest part and I’ve had to radically re-work designs before because I know most people wouldn’t be able to print them. Lots and lots of testing is key.
I buy up unpopular colours of filament which usually is sold for cheap because I can get through so much of it at this stage. Once I have a working model, my focus then shifts to the artistic side — I make the model look good. It’s funny, because this is the quickest and easiest part of the process for me and it’s what other people report on taking the longest, or assume is the most difficult.
Pinshape: What design program/tools do you use? How did you learn to use them?
Louise: I use whatever I can get my hands on. I’ve used Blender, Maya, Solidworks, Inventor and OpenSCAD. Each has their merits. I learn from books, online tutorials and just playing around. The best way to learn is to start out with a detailed plan of what you want to achieve, you can then research the application step by step. If the software is entirely new to you, many great tutorial sites have multi-part projects that you can follow. They can take a long time to complete but you’ll learn a lot.
I rarely just use one application for a model, often it’s a combination of two or three.
Pinshape: Do you have tips for people printing your designs?
Louise: If your printer isn’t calibrated correctly, don’t be surprised if your prints turn out poorly. Take the time to get to know your printer and tune it using some of the great documentation and test models that are out there. Measure your filaments and set up separate profiles for each one. The spool may say 1.75mm in diameter, but it usually deviates and an incorrect diameter value will spoil your prints – especially for ones that require assembly.
I also advise joining one of the many 3D printing communities out there— they always have people willing to help. We’re spoiled with plug ‘n play these days— 3D printers are anything but 🙂
Pinshape: How about for people who want to design 3D printable models? Any tips for them?
Louise: Accept that there is a steep learning curve. If you are only interested in a skill that can be mastered in an afternoon, then this isn’t for you. Don’t get frustrated, take your time and learn from failures. Don’t get put off by people telling what you can and can’t do. Experiment and have fun!
Pinshape: How did you get into 3D printing and 3D modelling?
Louise: I’d known 3D printers had been around for many years, so when I found out home kits were available (Makerbot Cupcakes), I knew what I wanted for my birthday that year. However, we ended up waiting due to the long lead times and decided to go with a Prusa Mendel i2 instead. We’ve not stopped since.
Pinshape: Anything else you’d like to share with the Pinshape community?
Louise: Carry on with the good work 🙂
It was wonderful to get to know more about Louise! You can check out her designs here, and try your hand at assembling them!