Grandpa’s 3D Printed Tree House

 In Customer Stories

Our favorite 3D printing grandparents, Chris and Janet Knowlton, are back with an amazing new project! You may remember them from a story we released in 2015, when they built a rocket ship complete with mini-astronauts and a moon rover for their grandson Benjamin. So when it came time for their granddaughter Josslyn’s third birthday, they were inspired to build something equally as special.

Simplify3D - 3D printed tree house

Using Janet’s idea of a multi-level dollhouse, Chris designed a three-foot tree house featuring elevators, slides, and bridges. It’s the perfect home for Josslyn’s collection of Calico Critters, specifically a cute family of little beavers. With swings, ladders, and ropes, it is an ideal place to unleash a child’s imagination.

Designing and Printing

Simplify3D - 3D printed bridge with laptop

Chris’s design has numerous intricate parts. It includes working doors, arched bridges and ladders.  The seams on the cottage walls are specially designed to be hidden from view.  A plaque with the text “Jossie’s Forest” embedded in it makes this a magical one-of-a-kind tree house.

He explained that using Simplify3D helped him get the most out of his 3D printer. “Simplify3D makes all the difference in the world in getting professional looking parts. When I design a part, I know that Simplify3D will handle it. I can go from concept, to design, to printed part fast and without issues. I would not have attempted this project without this amazing software.”

The entire project took over 600 hours to print and countless hours to design. With a project of this magnitude, Chris needed to shoot for success with each print and avoid any potential failures along the way. So he relied on Simplify3D’s Preview Mode for the detailed information he receives prior to starting a print. “The detailed Preview Mode is a print saver. It provides detailed scrutiny of the sliced model to ensure that it will be printed correctly. This was especially important because many of the parts were 8+ hour prints.”

The Challenges of Creating a New Forest

Simplify3D - 3D printed tree house model with critter

A happy resident.

Perhaps the biggest challenge was printing different textures. Chris wanted to differentiate the texture between the tree and the house, as well as the other parts of the landscape.

As he told us, “Many of the parts that required a rough texture like the shingles and the ‘thatched’ roofs were printed with a layer height of 0.2mm. Others like the bird, acorn birdhouse, and the ‘clay’ chimney pots were printed at a layer height of 0.1mm, then smoothed using a cold acetone mist.”

Simplify3D - 3D printed tree house model with critters

Textures and details delight the imagination.

The assembly of the parts needed to be seamless yet sturdy. Chris is happy about how Simplify3D gives him easy control throughout the project. “Many of the settings, including the start point options and custom supports, were an important part in producing high-quality prints.”

At Simplify3D, we know that dreams come in all sizes, and that the complexity of your design shouldn’t make it impossible to realize. We’re proud to help Chris and Janet, and makers everywhere, spur creativity and produce amazing prints.

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