Custom Detailed Toy Soliders created with 3D Printing

How do you improve on a classic like toy soldiers? With the modern
industry technology of 3D printing. From greater realism to higher
durability, the possibilities are endless for how model figures can be
updated and refined for a better re-enactment experience. Current toy
soldier manufacturing generally includes casting of aluminum, plastic,
lead, or even a cardboard mixture. 3D printers used currently for the
aerospace and automotive industries use a super alloy metal powder that
has a much higher durability. Through this, there's less replacement and
repair required for prized pieces.

Adult collectors no longer need to put their toys far from young fingers
that might break off fragile pieces. In fact, youngsters can actually
partake in the action with their parents without the well-known
admonishment of "Be careful with that!" This is how toy soldier
re-enactments can be made into a family-friendly hobby. There is also the
capability of greater realism and higher detail with a printer versus a

Re-enactors are constantly looking to improve the accurate details that
increase the realism of their pieces. With 3D printing, details and
realistic poses are possible that were not before. Individual buttons
can be included on the coat as the tails fly in the wind of battle,
mustaches can have detail on Colonel Custer, and battle wounds can have
depth and texture instead of being a simple red splatter of paint. The
realism on 3D printed toy soldiers can be high enough for props used by
amateur (or possibly even professional) film makers and photographers in
wide-sweeping panoramas. There is no longer the expectation that toy
soldiers look "good enough" for the budget. Memories can be made and
handed through generations when the durability and realism meet.

Family members can re-enact ancestors and lost loved ones in historic
battles and wars. 3D printers are not restricted to churning out the
same soldiers over and over with different paint themes with a few
well-known historical figures such as Napoleon and Alexander the Great.
The hero of your re-enactment of the Iraq War can be a close friend or
loved one who was actually on the ground for the conflict. Your
great-grandfather can be present again in the Battle of the Bulge in the
shape of a customized model figure. Such soldiers are easily heirlooms
with sentimental and historical value. Another aspect that increases the
value of 3D printed toy soldiers is the cost effect. Material-wise, 3D
printing has little to no manufacturing waste for better energy
efficiency and lower cost. For the quality and durability, these prices
can overshadow the prices required by current high-quality model
builders who have to consider the time and effort required for high
detail, durability, accuracy, and customization.

Toy soldier re-enactments of past wars and battles don't have to be
generic because of budgeting with such capability provided by the
printers. So, how do you improve historically popular toy soldiers? With
the durability, realism, cost efficiency, and historical realism and
customization available through 3D printing, the ultimate in modern
industry technology brought to the world of toys, collectibles, and war

By: Rogy Silvido- Writer for Tradition of Londonshop(

3D Printing and the Aerospace Industry

Aerospace is one of the main industries that can benefit from developments in 3D Printing

The aerospace industry is a main market for additive manufacturing. This is not only because this sector has a long history of an early adopter of latest technology inventions, but also because it needs these inventions. Environmental performance restrictions, competitive market conditions and high manufacturing cost are just some of the challenges that aerospace faces today. And this is exactly where the benefits of additive manufacturing come to the fore: shorter production time, no required additional tooling, material savings and cost-efficiency are just some of the good reasons why aerospace companies should integrate 3D printing in their production strategies.
DMLS (direct metal laser sintering), also called selective laser melting or selective laser sintering is the mostly used 3D prienting technique for production of aerospace components.

The main benefits of metal 3D printing for the aerospace industry can be summarized as follow:
  1. Complex designs
Additive manufacturing offers unbelievable flexibility in terms of geometry and it enables shapes not previously possible to be manufactured. This creates more space for innovation and exploration of new designs.
  1. Weight reduction
Weight reduction is one of the biggest issues in aerospace manufacturing. Lighter aircraft components have double impact on the industry. On the one hand less weight leads to lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and on the other hand means less cost and better airfares.
  1. Improved strength and durability
The mechanical properties of metal powders as Inconel 718 and titanium Ti6Al4V lead to improved strength and exceptional resistance in high temperatures and corrosive conditions, encountered in aircraft engines.
  1. Major savings
3D printed parts create less waste compare to traditionally manufactured ones which leads to environmentally friendly and energy efficient vehicles. The excellent mechanical properties of Inconel 718 and Titanium Ti6Al4V have led to their diverse use in the aerospace additive manufacturing.

Inconel  718

This is a nickel-based superalloy, containing chromium (Cr), molybdenum (Mo) and niobium (No). Niobium acts with molybdenum and improves tensile, rupture and creep strength without heat treatment.  Its main advantage is keeping its strength at high temperatures by building a stable oxide layer that protects the surface. Inconel 718 shows best mechanical and chemical properties in temperature ranges from cryogenic up to 700 oC (1300 oF). The metal is also corrosion and oxidation resistant, in particular to sulphide chloride and sulphide corrosion cracking and aqueous corrosion, all typically performed in jet engines. The weldability and machinability of Inconel  718 is another appealing characteristic of the metal for additive manufacturers. It possesses high resistance to post-weld age cracking and can be welded in either the annealed or precipitation (age) hardened condition.

Titanium Ti6Al4V

The main characteristic of titanium Ti6Al4V, also known as TA6V or Ti64 is its strength, low weight ratio. 3D printed titanium possesses also excellent resistance to fatigue, crack, corrosion and creep. Precipitation hardening including solution annealing, quenching and age hardening contributes to increased yield, bearing and shear strength. When considering low cutting speeds, high feed rate, large quantities of cutting fluid, sharp tools, rigid setup the metal can be also easily machined. Besides its wide use in aerospace and aeronautics applications, 3d printed titanium Ti6Al4V is preferred also for the production of biomedical implants because of its biocompatibility.
The following aerospace components are subject to extreme temperatures and corrosion. The mechanical characteristics of 3D printed Inconel 718 and titanium Ti6Al4V deliver excellent resistance and make them most suitable metals for the manufacture of:
  • Low and high temperature fasteners
  • Discs, hubs, spacers, seals
  • Compressor blades
  • Structural parts
  • Complex turbine engine components
  • Blisks
  • Cases, rings
  • Exhaust parts
Additive manufacturing provides the aerospace sector with grate benefits. This is a revolutionary technology that possesses the full potential to solve all sector?s issues by meeting the global demand for safe, convenient and reliable air transportation. The use of additive manufacturing and in particular direct metal laser sintering will grow and develop over the next decades.

Ralitsa Peycheva is a technical content writer, interested in forging and casting techniques, latest machinery and tools; curious about new manufacturing methods; respecting high-quality engineering; discovering, observing and admiring the additive manufacturing industry. Follow her on  Google +

Federal Regulations for 3D Printing

Breakthrough in medical devices, aerospace, automotive and other industries means that regulations for 3D printing are starting to become increasingly important. (Robohand image via MakerBot)
High-tech industries such as aerospace and medical fields are turning to 3D printing as a replacement for standard manufacturing. What was once used as a way to produce prototypes, toys and other novelties is fast becoming a manufacturing staple in these highly competitive markets.
That kind of change in production has got federal regulators tapping the brakes. Concerns about the safety and consistency of 3D printed components means developing new testing mechanisms to prove their safety and efficiency.

Proving Effectiveness

According to a recent article in Financial Times, the concerns are based on the fact that 3D printing is a completely new way of making things in comparison to conventional manufacturing techniques. The tried and true methods of molding and pressing have gone through years of testing to prove their efficiency. The concerns are based on the lack of historical data to prove how printed products will react over time, the level of quality and the types of materials that are used.

Unknown Capabilities

Anytime a new technology enters the marketplace, it has to prove that it can at least meet, if not exceed the standards set by the current technology. It's only recently that 3D printing has become a viable option for production of anything more than a prototype. The technology continues to improve as innovative companies seek ways to streamline production, reduce costs and improve productivity. However, it's not just a matter of replacing standard manufacturing, at least not immediately. 3D printing is still in its infancy and it will be some time before it is completely mainstream.

Testing For Quality

Some medical device manufacturers are testing 3D printed parts in laboratories in collaboration with the FDA. The FAA is working with aviation companies to use labs and x-ray technology to test parts. Gaining approval from these governing agencies allows these industries to further push the boundaries of 3D printing. In both cases, testing and proving the efficacy of the 3D printed components is the only way to gain approval for sale to consumers or businesses.

Material Differences

There are tens of thousands of different types of plastics that are used in traditional manufacturing methods. With 3D printing, there are only around 2,000 plastics that can be used. Switching to a 3D printing model requires a change in materials, which compounds the concerns. The techniques used to mold and shape current plastics have been using a new type of untested plastic without thorough testing could have disastrous consequences. At the very least, the new material has to function as well as the one it is replacing.

It's clear that there is a very bright future for 3D printing in many different industries. In fact, it's estimated that the market will be worth in excess of 20 billion U.S. dollars. It is up to industry leaders and government regulators to navigate this uncharted territory to achieve the common goal. In the end, the objective is to get well-made, safe and effective products into the marketplace.

Printed Circuits with a #3dPrinter

Electronic devices and components, such as light switches, cell phones, and circuit boards, are typically made up of at least two different materials. Plastics often comprise the structure and substrate while metals like copper are necessary for conducting electricity. Any 3D printer can handle the plastic parts using easily-available filaments.  However, the electronic portions require a separate and often-expensive manufacturing process.

Seattle-based engineer Mike Toutonghi hopes to change that with his highly-conductive 3D-printing material called F-Electric. He developed his chops working for 15 years at Microsoft. In 2012, he started work on his material when manufacturers told him that no plastics existed that were conductive enough for electronic circuitry. He claims his substance is the “world's most conductive 3D printing filament” and is 1,000 more electrically conductive than anything else out there.
F-Electric allows the design of any electronic function directly into the structure of a printed part. No separate or outside manufacturing is needed. Switches, connectors, and complete circuit boards are just some of the components that can be created on a 3D printer.

Toutonghi hopes that in three or four years, his material will allow the printing of complete smart phones and other consumer products. He's currently using Kickstarter to crowd-fund the $100,000 needed to increase material production. To prove the feasibility of his project, he's offering premiums printed with F-Electric, including functioning key-chain flashlights and electromagnetic lock boxes. Unless there is a massive push in the last hours of the campaign it is unlikely to be funded but don't expect this to be the last you hear about printed circuitry.

5 Industries Benefiting from 3D Printing Metals

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), known also as laser sintering, selective laser sintering or selective laser melting is an additive manufacturing process, already adopted by industries such as aerospace, automotive or defense for the production of high-quality components with specific mechanical characteristics. This is a process of powder bed fusion where thermal energy is applied on selective regions of a powder bed to melt the metal powder. The different steps can be described as follow:
  • CAD Modeling
A CAD Model carries the most accurate information about the desired components and sends it to the 3D printer. The process begins with slicing of the 3D CAD file into many cross-sections. This can be done using existing design softwares (Solidworks, Rhino, ProE, SolidEdge, etc.) and combining a slicer program typically proprietary to the printer being used.
  • Powder melting
A laser selectively melts or sinters the used material, mainly high-quality metal powders such as the superalloy Inconel 718 to build the first layer of the 3D component.
  • Layer Building
After that the recoater applies a new layer of powder on the build platform, which is then again selectively melted by the laser to create the next cross-section of the component. The cycle is repeated layer by layer, sometimes adding material layers that are measured in nanometers of thickness.
  • Finishing operations
After all layers have been sintered together to create the entire part, some additional finishing operations as shot-peening, heat treatment or electrical discharge machining can be performed.
Selective laser sintering offers good metallurgy which results in improved mechanical properties. Complex shapes and geometry that canít be done with subtractive manufacturing can be easily created when applying laser sintering. Another important advantage is less material consumption and little to no manufacturing waste, which results in energy efficiency and cost reduction. And last but not least, selective laser melting links directly the engineering process to the manufacturing process, and then reduces lead-time and entirely changes the time to market goals of the product development process.

Top Industries

Since direct metal laser sintering employs big state-of-the-art industrial printers, it is mainly adopted by leading industrial sectors as automotive, aerospace and defense with high demand for complex, robust and very strong components. Some of the key-players in the manufacturing of high-quality industrial 3d printers capable of metals are EOSStratasys, and ExOne. The consumer sector, which requires smaller, lower cost machines include 3d systems,  and Makerbot.


The automotive industry has always been a critical component of economic growth, national and regional employment of every industrialized country. Today this market faces the challenges of the 21st century as emerging markets, financial pressure from higher raw material prices and the never ending environmental problem. The need to grow and change smartly through technological advancement and highly innovative solutions is more than obvious. Newer designs, shorter lead times and lower cost are only some of the advantages of direct metal laser sintering.

In todayís global world, connecting people and shipping freight through fast and cost-effective transportation has become essential for international trade and tourism. But besides endless opportunities, globalization also brings unprecedented challenges. Environmental performance commitments, increasingly complex and demanding government requirements and competitive market conditions are just some of them. Additive Manufacturing might not be able to solve global pressure in short-term, but will definitely contribute to the technical improvement of the aerospace industry in most quality and cost-effective manner, meeting industryís stringiest requirements.


Defense and national security sectors are involved in research, development, production, and service of military material, equipment and facilities. On the one side this is a huge export market, which should deliver support, training and regular upgrades in a long-term relationship. But also, this is the most important investment for a country and therefore governments seek for high-reliable partners. The sector faces constantly the need for innovations and cost reduction. This is where direct metal laser sintering contributes to the improvement of the production development process. Laser-sintered small quantities of lightweight components eliminate tooling investment and bring considerable cost benefits.

Tooling Industry

The tooling industry is fundamental to high-quality manufacturing. Actually all the industrial sectors would not be as productive as they are without the support of the tooling industry. Dies, molds, machine tools, cutting tools, wear parts, tongs, pliers and many others are used in stamping and forging operations or to shape ceramics and composite materials. Despite the recent progress, the tooling industry is still plagued by insufficient manufacturing speed, accuracy and efficiency. Selective laser sintering can optimize the manufacturing process of industrial tooling in a cost efficient way. Additive manufacturing can deliver complex lighter shapes with added functions and ergonomic design.


Comprising watches, jewellery, accessories, packaging and many more, luxury is the ultimate emerging market for 3d printing. Besides the development and industrialization process, there are not so many applications of additive manufacturing in the luxury sector so far. But due to time to market and customization advantages, additive manufacturing for luxury items unveils huge potential. Even though designers prefer the use of smaller printers; many applications require quantities for which a larger printer will be a better choice.

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