Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A ZBrush Expert Tests the Cube

One of the smartest things I've ever done in my life was to use my nephew, Peyton Duncan, in the early 1980's to test our video games for Astrocade's Bally Professional Arcade.  Not only was he terrific at finding issues with the games; but, he was also terrific at suggesting game play improvements.

But, it has also paid off for him, leading him to become an accomplished digital artist and game designer.  He is now an art director with Electronic Arts Sports.  He is an incredible artist and photographer.

One of the 3D modeling products that he has used, over the years, is ZBrush.  Two events provided an opportunity for him to test the latest release of ZBrush with the Cube 3D Printer. Last week, to test the new Dynamesh technology, Peyton created this high poly model in just 4 hours.  And, then he came to visit his family in nearby Virginia, giving him access to my Cube 3D printer.

Peyton Duncan - Old Man

According to Peyton, ZBrush with Dynamesh is amazing, allowing him to go way beyond the point where the mesh would become a mess in other applications.  I'm no great 3D artist so I don't even know enough to comment on it.  But, knowing his experience, I'm going to take his word for it.

For me, the fun part was having the privilege of being able to loan Peyton my Cube while he and his family are visiting his parents.  This gave him the opportunity to print his "Old Man" on the Cube.

Here is the result.

Cube Print - Old Man 01
Cube Print - Old Man 02
Cube Print - Old Man 03

The bust is 4.5" tall and took 24 hours to print.  It did require support materials.  The great news is that Peyton is very impressed by the quality of the print, given the fact that "Old Man" was not designed to be printed.  It was designed to push the capabilities of Dynamesh,  So, the surface being sent to the Cube is incredibly detailed. 

What was amazing to me, once I had a chance to see it, is that Peyton had chosen to set up the Cube printer in an area that undergoes big swings in temperature.  There was some bottom warping, which one would expect from such temperature swings.  But, over all, the filament binding was very nice in spite of the temperature swings over the 24 hour print cycle.

Obviously, the children were fascinated by the printing process and went to check on it dozens of times.  Peyton was highly impressed that the Cube could go for 24 hours while maintaining precise alignment even in the face of the children shaking the table on which it sat.

I plan to reprint "Old Man" in my studio where I can control the temperature more precisely... and, without the table shaking!  In the meantime, count Peyton in as a Cube fan.

Note:  "Old Man" is a work in progress.  When he gets back home he will finish it and send me a better STL file to print.  So, look for an update in the near future.


  1. Hello
    I want to congratulate you for your blog and its desire to share and to train others.
    I am being interested in this technology and I'm really excited.

    It is clear that the results are impressive, but I notice that the resulting piece has a certain roughness, so that should be polished or something, to achieve a perfect finish is that correct?

    My other question is, if possible, I understand that if you paint the resulting piece to give a finished look as realistic as possible.

    The final product should take two more step to make it a salable product ... polishing, painting and packaging.

    Greetings from the Canary Islands, Spain

  2. You are right on all counts.

    Part of the roughness has to do with support material that was removed. But, I also see some layer to layer imperfections that I do not see in less detailed designs. The primary use of the Cube for an object like "Old Man" is as a prototype for visualizing the design in preparation for having the STL printed in metal or on a Z-Corp color 3D printer.

    However, having said that, seeing the piece is person is a very different experience than seeing it via a 21mpx photo. The flaws do not stand out at all in natural light at normal viewing distance.

    However, it is very light in weight. And, that is probably the biggest factor that would call for a reprint in something with more weight to it to add value.

    Thanks for writing. I appreciate your observations!

    1. Thanks for your quick response!

      The idea is simple, produce personalized items such as the bust of a person on request. To be serious the result obtained from the 3D printer must go further stages in the production to add value to the final piece. One may be the cleaning or polishing of the piece, the other the hand-painted, the other can be placed on a piece of wood and finally the empaquedado and shipping to the buyer.

      It's just one example, but view business opportunities opened up by this technology is not an absurd idea.

      My brother practiced basketball, imagine a custom shape to give her for her birthday, it would be great demand productir these items.

      Thank you very much!

  3. One of the goals of many companies and individuals, right now, is finding a way to quickly and easily create 3D images of people using photography. Then there is the vast improvement in 3D rendering software itself that will make it possible to do exactly as you predict. I think you are right on target.

    I'd love to see what an expert in air brushing could do with a piece like this. :)

    1. Hi again Tom!

      Yes, the truth is it would be very interesting to continue the exercise and try to complete the figure with a finish.

      I think you should know about this software, to create the 3d model of a head from 2 photos. I think you'll like: VIZAGO

      A hug and we talked.

      Thank you very much for your time.
      PD. Sorry for my English but I'm using the Google translator, :-)

  4. Your English is a LOT better than my Spanish! :)

    But, feel free to write in BOTH English and Spanish. Our "heart language" is ALWAYS the one in which we can express thought best and I have many co-workers that can translate for me. I don't mind at all. I find your additions to this blog to be WONDERFUL! So, please use BOTH languages when possible.

    1. Muchas gracias Tom...

      I am now evaluating 3D printing for a project that I've given her around for several weeks. The first printer interesting that I've come across is just Cubify ... but I discovered other products like this HP curiously not in the shop usa.

      One of the things that caught my attention of both printers is cleanliness and the small space they occupy in an office.

      What do you think the 3D printer from HP, the know?

      Thank you very much, has been a real pleasure to converse are you.

      We continue talking.

  5. in us the equivalent of the HP printer is the UPrint. HP has an agreement with stratasys for exclusivity in European market

    1. yep, the Uprint goes for $295.00 /mo Lease of (60 mo)