Colby Wodard - A 3D Printing Experience

My name is Colby Woodard, (Photo 1) and I did a summer internship at the epic software group in 2019.  During my time at the epic, I was challenged to create a 3D printed model of a memorial statue of two Woodland’s area soldiers who were killed in action. PFC Cory Christian Kosters died in Iraq on March 5, 2007, while CPL Zachary Ryan Endsley died in Afghanistan on July 23, 2007.  You can find additional information on these brave men and the memorial at thewayhomeproject.org.

The 3D printing process requires a suitable 3D model in order to be properly developed in the printer. The digital 3D model was created using a process called photogrammetry, in which hundreds of photos of the sculpture are taken from many angles, then stitched together in a multistep process (Photo 2).  Click here to see the 3D digital version of this sculpture.

I took the 3D model of the soldiers from this process and pieced it together in a program called Netfabb to make the model one solid object (Photo 3).   After that, it was taken to Meshmixer, so I could scale and cut the model into multiple pieces (Photo 4).

Using this process I was able to divide each soldier into three separate pieces, as well as the base they stood on (Photo 5). Doing so would allow the printer to form the models to required scale, regardless of the relatively small size of the printer (the printer I used was the Ender 3 and the material it was printed with is PLA filament) (Photo 6).

With the 3D printed sculpture was cut into smaller pieces, I used the Program Cura to tell the printer what it is being printed using the digital blueprints of the provided 3D mesh (Photo 7). Each of these pieces required nine hours to print, and they all had to be meticulously glued together with a specialized adhesive. Once glued together, I had to clean up the statue by sanding down the seams formed from the separate pieces to create a smooth transition between them. After touching up the model and removing residual hairs the printer left behind during the printing process, the model was ready for the final step (photo 8). All that was left was to coat the statue in a primer so that it would be ready to paint. (Photo 9)

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