As you may have noticed from reading my blog I’m a bit of a Disney fan. Especially when it comes to Disney parks. I’m love the way they mix innovative engineering with spectacular story telling, the fact that they’re able to blend the two seamlessly has always impressed me, and has inspired my own DIY projects. This summer I decided to push my own 3D modeling skills, and you guessed it, I picked one of my favorite Walt Disney World ride vehicles as my subject.
I decided to model the Tomorrowland Transite Authority (TTA) ride vehicle, sometimes also called the “People Mover”. The majority of my 3D modeling is “purpose driven”, if I have something to repair or a part missing around the house I model a replacement. While I’ve gotten pretty handy at modeling functional parts I thought it was time to try something a bit more creative, a bit less practical, and a bit more fun.
Unsurprisingly theme park vehicles aren’t the easiest thing in the world to get blue prints for, so I had to be a little creative with how I decided my measurements and proportions. Rather than go off plans and drawings as I normally do, I scoured Google Image Search and Flickr for images of the ride vehicle. While crowd sourcing my reference photos wasn’t the easiest, it turned into a a treasure hunt, and was one of the most enjoyable parts of this process.
As I started to model the TTA vehicle I mixed my personal experience along with the reference images I had collected. I attempted to model the ride vehicle as close to life-sized as I could manage without any actual measurements. Before exporting the file for print I scaled the vehicle down to about 25% of my Makerbot’s build platform, or 4 inches across.
After exporting the scaled model as an STL file I pulled it into Makerware and generated the code required to print it. As you can see from the photo below I also printed a copy scaled down about 40% from the first print. I printed the TTA vehicle in blue ABS from ToyMaker. Then gave the doors a coat of Testors silver model paint. The paint was a bit glossy but I think it looks OK.
I liked how the painted models turned out, but to be honest model painting isn’t a strong suit of mine. So it got me thinking, what if I just printed the model in color in the first place? To achieve this I exported my textured SketchUp model using the instructions I found here. This gave me a model that I could upload to Shapeways for full color printing.
I scaled this model down considerably to save on printing costs (mostly because it was my first color print and I had no idea how it would turn out). Below is a photo of my TTA Vehicle printed in Shapeway’s “Full Color Sandstone”. The colors are a bit muted and the print is slightly rough to the touch, but I think having the colors “pre-printed” makes it worth it. Plus it’s really fun to have yet another version of my creation.
Here’s a “family photo” of my finished people mover prints (I’ve included a quarter for scale). As you can see, once you have a printable 3D model your options are pretty much endless when it comes to scale (with the exception of your printer size of course), print material, and finish.
I’ve gone back and fourth as to whether or not I should upload this for others to print out, and I think I’ve settled on uploading it for non-commercial use, no sense me having all the fun with the TTA. Click the image below to checkout the model on Thingiverse!