The nuances of making articulated dolls on a 3D printer

Creating beautiful, well-detailed dolls is quite a long and time-consuming process. 3D-printing technology can help simplify it. It allows you to create three-dimensional articulated dolls using a printer. Let’s see how such dolls differ from ordinary dolls, how they are created, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of such products.
photo of plastic dolls

What do 3D-printed articulated dolls look like?

3D-printed dolls have highly detailed facial features, body curves and even fingers. With proper refinement with dressing materials, they will look very similar to people.

Thanks to 3D modeling, it is possible to design dolls with characteristic individual features (special eye shape, different hand positions and different body parameters). At the same time they will be perfectly symmetrical.

BJD dolls have a solid construction due to the material from which they are printed (ABS-plastic or semi-transparent plastic (ProJet, Objet)).

Where can I get a 3D model?

Creating a 3D model of an articulated doll is a very complicated process that consists of developing each individual part of the product and creating supports. Therefore, few craftsmen share their hours-long fruits of labor.

But still you can find three-dimensional models of dolls on the web. The largest number of files with different print formats can be found on two sites: and The first site is entirely English-language, but its database of 3D objects is quite extensive. The second web resource has a smaller number of models, but its localization is completely in Russian.

How to print?

Models of doll parts

Creating an articulated doll on a 3D printer is done in seven stages:

  • Development of a 3D model in a specialized program. Virtually any software that usually comes with the printer is suitable for this. It is also possible to use highly specialized programs for 3D modeling. The first stage of creating the doll can be skipped if the user already has a ready 3D model.
  • Important: An articulated doll basically consists of hollow parts. Therefore, before completing the development of the three-dimensional object, be sure to install support structures in the necessary places on the part, which will help imprint the parts of the workpiece located in the empty space.
  • Cutting the finished parts of the product in the slicer. Each piece should be cut into identical slices. This will make the layer-by-layer printing clearer and produce better quality blanks.
  • Selection of printing material. To create an articulated doll, it is recommended to use one of two materials:
    ABS plastic is a durable and inexpensive material. However, it has a low level of detail and requires post-processing (priming and sanding) after printing.
  • Translucent plastic (ProJet, Objet) is a strong but expensive filament. It reproduces fine details of the product when printed. The surface is very smooth and does not require additional processing.
  • Doll printing. The sliced 3D parts of the doll are printed individually. Next, depending on the material used, the blanks are cooled, washed in acetone, or dosed. After that, the supporting structures are removed.
  • Part post-treatment. Depending on the material used, additional surface treatment may be required. Most often they are sanded, sanded and primed. All these actions are necessary in order to remove the irregularities that occurred during printing, and to remove the remnants of support structures. After the parts are painted in their base shade (flesh-colored or any other, depending on the idea of the master).
  • Assembling the doll. All the prepared parts are assembled into a single item using special hooks or thick paper clips. When assembling moving dolls, elastic threads of high strength are used, which are stretched.
  • Decoration. At this stage, eyes, lips, nails and various small details of the product are drawn. Hair is also attached, clothes and shoes are put on and accessories are added.

Advantages and disadvantages

The main advantage of creating articulated three-dimensional dolls is their realism. The dolls do turn out very similar to real people. The consequence of this is that a doll printed on a 3D printer can always look different. Thanks to 3D modeling, the individual parts of the product are extremely detailed and can be designed as desired. Therefore, the craftsman can create individual doll models that will fully meet the customer’s requirement.

Along with significant advantages, articulated dolls have a number of disadvantages:

  • A very long process of creating a 3D model in a specialized program;
  • a limited amount of materials can be used for printing;
  • dolls printed on a 3D printer always need post-processing.

Creating BJD dolls on a 3D printer is a fairly time-consuming process that will require some modeling skills in specialized programs, a good knowledge of how to work with the printer, as well as the ability to do post-processing and product design. However, if all these skills are present, the user can easily create original gifts or sell unique dolls at a high price.

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