Baby Thames Dolphin Toy - 3D Sculpting in Meshmixer

Baby Thames Dolphin Toy – 3D Sculpting in Meshmixer


Since we’ve started learning how to design 3D models we see the world around us differently. Every time we look at a particular object, we cannot help thinking if it’s possible to make it 3d printable. Thames Embankment in central London is rich in historic artifacts. The lamp posts are decorated with interesting fairy tale creatures that attracted our attention.


Dolphin lamp standards history goes back to the 19th century and we wanted to scan them for the Scan The World collection. After several failed attempts to 3D scan using photogrammetry, we decided to try and design something resembling these beautiful fish characters. As we are a bit familiar with the Meshmixer, we started designing from a sphere using 3D sculpting tools.

Dolphin Lamp Standard - Thames Embankment
Dolphin Lamp Standard – Thames Embankment
(Photo: 3DWithUs)

The story of the dolphin standards is interesting because they were originally designed by George John Vulliamy as sturgeons (Wikipedia). However, they say that the author was inspired by the dolphin sculptures on the Fontana del Nettuno in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo, and therefore they are referred to as dolphins. At a closer look, these creatures do not really resemble any sea or river species today, while being a wonderful ornament to the city. There were more dolphin lamps installed in celebration of the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee.

3D Sculpting in Meshmixer
3D Sculpting in Meshmixer
(Screenshot: Meshmixer)

ZBrush is often used in 3D printing designers to create similar objects. However, we have never tried it and so we went for the Meshmixer that also has its 3D sculpting tools. The first thing we did after choosing a sphere was to make sure that the “Symmetry” option was ticked in both Sculpt and Select sections. Then the brush will mirror all your moves. There is a big choice of brushes in the Sculpt section, but we used the same brush 90% of the time and smoothed the object quiet often. The combination we used all the way was Select – Deform – Smooth, which was especially helpful for the thin rear fins designing. We must admit that it took us a lot of time to get used to the brush’s strength and width. Only when we managed to copy the eyes, there was hope that something might come out of this.

Baby Thames Dolphin Toy 3D Sculpting Meshmixer
(MP4: 3DWithUs)

It is not a secret that when sculpting for 3d printing, especially for a single color, you have to sculpt it so that the details are more visible. The original model’s eyes are perfect for this. Only when we realized that we can recreate those eyes we knew that this can be a cute 3D printable model in the end. So the eyes are actually the most important part of the fish body. The whole object was designed so that it could be printed quickly and without support. With a large head and small underdeveloped fins and tail, our little cutie can be mistaken for a baby of the original model. To make is easy to print we cut the base to make it stable on the printing bed. All fins are touching the build plate at a correct angle, so there is no need for supports or a raft.

Baby Thames Dolphin Toy - 3D Printed on Original Prusai3MK2
3D Printed on Original Prusa 3D Printer
(Photo: 3DWithUs)


Polymaker Matte PLA Filament on Amazon (affiliate link)

Wood Resin and Blocky Prints

Wood. Printed well in wood filament Fillamentum Timberfill review with 0.6 mm Nozzle on Neptune 3 Plus FDM printer review.

Baby Thames Dolphins Toys
Baby Thames Dolphins

Resin. Printed well in resin on Anycubic Mono X printer review.

Baby Fish and Lamppots Fish Printed in Resin
Baby Fish and Lamppots Fish Printed in Resin

Blocky. Blocky Baby Fish is the most recent model created using the technique outlined in Andrew Sink’s tutorial.

Blocky Baby Fish
Blocky Baby Fish following the tutorial

Baby Thames Dolphin Toy – 3D Sculpting in Meshmixer

As usual in our short YouTube video, we show the designing and printing process in detail.

Dolphin Lamp Standard Source:
https://memoirsofametrogirl.com/2013/02/25/dolphin-lamps-on-thames-embankment-history/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolphin_lamp_standard

Gif Thames Baby Dolphin 3D Printed in PLA
(MP4: 3DWithUs)

We have great footage of the object being used as a bath/pool toy. However, please be aware that mold can quickly develop on the models if not dried properly. Therefore, for use in the bath or pool, this model needed to be created using a different process, such as injection molding and using different anti-mold materials.

Baby Thames Dolphin Toy STL Files:

We prepared two types of STL files. One is for an FDM desktop 3D printer and it is designed for an easy print without supports. The other one is for SLA printers which have their own support system. We are not familiar with this type of a printer so we left a full model for it, without a flat base.
https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2393065
https://cults3d.com/en/game/baby-thames-dolphin-toy
https://pinshape.com/items/36555-3d-printed-baby-thames-dolphin-toy
https://www.myminifactory.com/object/baby-thames-dolphin-toy-38410
Please don’t forget to share your make if you print one.

Our 3D print cost calculator estimates that this 3D print job would cost $2.30, depending on the selected material and other parameters.


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