Damon Swanson is a Circus Model Builder. Our guess is that you don’t know anyone who does that sort of thing. It was a first for us, as well. He purchased his Afinia H-Series 3D Printer in late 2012. He likes to create his models in 1/8” scale (1/8” = 1 foot) and his existing 3D printer would only create suitable models down to ¼” scale, which wasn’t small enough.
No stranger to 3D printing, Damon ran an engineering and design group at Honeywell and was able to convince management to buy a Stereo Lithography system 20 years ago. That system was the second one installed in Minnesota. He was really excited when desktop 3D printers appeared, so he purchased one to take his model building to another level.
The Circus Circle
There is a very active Circus Model Building community and Damon frequently shares best practices with other hobbyists. Last year, he brought his 3D printer to a conference and caused quite a bit of excitement. “Quite a few of the guys were asking tons of questions and taking notes,” he said.
As part of his best practices, Damon has created different workflows for his models, depending upon the subject matter.
When he is working on things like circus wagons (Circus Commissary Wagon No. 104 http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:39656 ) or bleachers, Damon uses standard 3D modeling software and outputs the result as an stl file. His wagon was modeled in Autodesk 123D Beta, from a plan in “The Little Circus Wagon,” September-October 1983.
His Parade Elephant (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:38573 ) started as a 123D Catch scan of a Schleich model (http://www.schleich-s.com/en/US/ ). The resulting object was cleaned, repaired and modified, to ease printing, using Autodesk Meshmixer. The parade blanket and forehead medallion were also added in Meshmixer. As a bonus, this model can be printed without ramp or supports, depending on one’s printer and build platform. This is his workflow for more “organic” subjects.
Probably the most difficult design was his Plow Horse (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:40537 ) Damon describes it this way, “This is the horse that is pulling my Circus Commissary Wagon. It started life as a DAZ/POSER horse but it has been substantially modified. Tack was applied using Autodesk 123D, combined and cleaned with Meshmixer. DAZ models are very dirty for creating .stl files because they contain lots of baggage relating to rigging and posing components.
Damon exemplifies the depth to which some of our clients go to create the perfect model.