Now that my 3D printer is all setup, it was time to crack on with some making – in this case, a mini project to build and print my very own model.
For my first attend, I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew. This made a dinosaur cookie cutter – something that’s relatively simple as far as 3D models go – a safe bet.
Besides the lack of complexity, my wife also loves to bake, and everyone loves cookies – so worst case, this project would be a win-win for all of use at home.
Table of Contents
Deciding on a concept
My daughter has become obsessed with Pokémon in the last couple of weeks, tossing her beloved paw patrol beanie boos aside in favour of her growing collection of Pokémon plushies. This meant that picking out a character from the Pokémon universe made sense.
But this is a dinosaur blog after all, so we wouldn’t just print a Pikachu – so we had to find a dinosaur Pokémon.
Interestingly enough, there are no dinosaur-type Pokémon, however, a quick Google search yielded “Tyrunt” – a Rock/Dragon-type that resembles a super cute, baby T-Rex, making it the perfect choice for our project.
This Pokémon was new to us. My daughter and I aren’t yet far along enough in the Pokémon franchise to have encountered this sixth generation Pokémon, and I never really got into the franchise as a kid. But that said, I’m always interested in ways to share my love of dinosaurs with my kids – and what better way than with a dinosaur / Pokémon cross over?
Creating the model
I’ve dabbled in 3D before. I’ve played around with Blender, creating a couple of models – so my first thought was to get it installed and jump into it to start my project.
While this approach will work for some, and software tools like this are essential for more complex models, the learning curve is too steep – especially for a simple project like this. In short, if you’re just a hobbyist, looking to make basic models, you don’t want a tool as feature-rich as this.
After giving up on Blender for the time being, I decided to give Tinkercard a go. Tinkercad is a free, web-based 3D modelling tool from Autodesk. I hadn’t used it before, but I had played around with circuits, which is useful for testing out basic Arduino circuits.
As a tool, it’s super limited – but this is its strength – being simple and easy to use, especially for newcomers like myself. For this project, there was no need to mess about building a model from primitives – instead, I would just need the SVG import functionality – which turns graphic files you upload into models, making it super easy to create without much experience.
The first step was to grab a reference image with a quick Google image search. Once I had this, I threw it into Photoshop and started creating the outline and face details, using the curvature pen and line tool. It wasn’t difficult at all and should be simple enough even for those with little Photoshop experience.
Once I’d created the three images – the outline, the backing, and the facial details – I used Convertio, an online PNG to SVG converter, to put these into the right format for input into Tinkercad. After importing them, I just need to line, scale, and export the model as an STL file, ready to open in Creality Slicer.
My first attempt was a disaster, with me making the most rookie of all rookie mistakes – I failed to connect the facial features to the rest of the model. So, I stopped the print and went back to fix the model, adding a back to it that help all the various pieces together.
The fix was straight forward – I simply took the outline, filled it, then made it a little bigger than the edge of the cutter. This is something I want to rework before publishing the model, as it’s a waste of plastic and increases the print time needlessly.
I’ll be printing a few examples of cookie cutters made by other users to give me an idea of how to solve the issue, providing a backing just for those parts that need it. And this isn’t just more efficient, it’s also better for usability of the finished product – as cookies are much easier to cut and get out of the cutter when there’s an opening to give them a push from.
Besides the initial mistake, I also got the scaling wrong – the finished cutter is too shallow as a cookie cutter, which is something I’ll fix for the next print, increasing the height of the cutter’s outline.
Other than these minor issues, the rest of the print went great. I’m quite happy with the result – the print came out well and once I discovered the knack of using SVGs with TinkerCad, the process became a breeze.
The print itself took just under 2 hours, which was longer than expected – as Creality Slicer gave me an estimate of just over an hour. Besides the time to print, it went off without a hitch.
I’ve already mentioned the improvements that I want to make to the model before publishing it to my Thingiverse account.
Beyond these changes and tweaks to the design, I may look at making a few more of different dinosaur-like Pokémon. The obvious choice would be to make Tyrantrum, as this is what Tyrunt evolves into – this is a cutter I’m going to make, in fact I’ve already started.
In addition to Tyrantrum, there are other Pokémon that may be worth doing, like Meganiun and Tyranitar, but I’m not yet sure if I’ll commit to making these yet, but we’ll see what happens, depending on how much free time I have to spend on this.
Overall, this was a nice little project. It was relatively simple and took no more than a couple of hours to complete – excluding the print. It was good learning experience, as I came away learning a new method and approach that will save be a bunch of time on future projects.
Moving forward, I’m planning to kick things up a gear, looking are more complex 3D printing projects. While I’m yet to decide on what to do next, I do have a few ideas in mind, so make sure to watch this space for more details on future projects.