I want to give more detailed information about my pre-order, why I am doing things the way I am, and the current state of the doll. It is important to me to always be completely transparent about everything.
Where Things Stand
I currently have an incomplete 3D-printed prototype. The 3D printing company I use was having problems keeping track of all the parts, and some parts should get to me Tuesday (and some are only half printed, like the shoulder). For the, rest they want me to make a new order for (which I will be refunded for). So, it may take another week and a half for me to get everything, but most should be here early this week. Everything that I have been able to test either works very well, or will work well with some small modifications (mostly just increasing some elastic space on inner joints, or adding small locks). I will take more pictures once the parts get here. What they are sending me now should be enough that I can get her to stay together and stand (right now I am missing the feet and part of the thigh which prevents her one leg from staying together).
Once I get the remaining parts I will make sure they work, modify them if I have to, and then do a final print. Most parts will be printed in a material that is expensive but it easy to work with and shows a high level of detail. The modifications are small so this shouldn’t take too long – I can make them all in a few (long) days. The main part that may affect the time line is waiting for the prints to ship.
When I get the final prints, I will double check to make sure everything works perfectly, then make all of the parts perfectly smooth before I mold and cast a resin prototype. Only after I have this resin prototype to show is any payment due. I do have experience molding and have never had a problem with getting good casts, but I’ll admit I have not yet done something on this scale. I am confident that I can get high-quality casts, but I still do not want anyone to have to commit to buying until there is hard proof and I can show exactly what they final product will be. If for some reason I am unable to cast her, I will find another solution, but the timeline will change.
So, you may be asking why I am even taking orders before there is a resin prototype. The biggest reason is that I just need to be sure that I can get enough orders to fund the rest of production, and gauge what commitment I am going to make to this in the future. I recently graduated college (with a degree in computer science and math, but I also took a few mechanical engineering courses), and I decided to give this a go full time before I look into getting a programming job. My dream is to keep this going full time, but if there is not enough interest I will have to go get a normal job. I have just enough savings to fund the rest of the prints I need, and the materials for the first order. But, if I do not get enough orders, I won’t have the money to pay rent and other living expenses while I am working on the order, so I just need to be sure I can get enough orders before I buy everything else I need to. I understand that there is still risk – I might buy everything and it might just not work out, or everyone could cancel, but that is a risk I am willing to take as I am confident I can produce dolls that live up to expectations.
My intent is to make all of the risks my risks, and not a risk for any potential customer. That is why I don’t want the deposit until I have a final cast to show. I also understand that it is a lot of money to risk on a doll that is not yet proven by the community, so for this first order I will be accept returns if anyone is unhappy with what they get. Since these are each customized, this is a risk for me, but I have faith in my doll and I believe everyone will be happy with her.
Overview of Parts
The headcap is only half printed, but that was enough to test. I have to change the shape of the inside just a tiny bit because the face is a bit difficult to get on. It is a super small change (and does work as is) so it won’t be a problem.
The head holder works great – I actually did this 4 or 5 ago. My goal was to make it easy to take the headcap off, and easy to restring it, but not be at any risk of coming off unintentionally – I think I achieved that. To put the head on, you simple rotate the part that holds the elastic up, push the headcap down onto it, and the piece will rotate down. Then, you just push it back and it will lock into place – the tension of the elastic will keep it down. To remove it, you just pull it forward (the new piece will have grips – this is an old print) and pull the headcap up. To restring, you pull the elastic holder forward, rotate it upside-down, and pull it up. That takes the elastic holder out of the other piece, and you can just slip off the elastic. There is no risk of it happening accidently, but it isn’t hard to do it intentionally (and no s-hooks that could dent the resin!).
The chest moves fine, but I am currently missing the part that goes inside the waist that keeps the chest’s pivot in the right place. The elastic goes from the head, down to a ball that is inside the top of the waist in the center of the joint. That ball keeps the elastic straight at all angles so she won’t want to snap into any position. Once I get that to test, I will see if the chest is good as staying in positions, and then determine if I need to make any internal locks. I think I have an idea that will keep it locked just enough in the default positions, but still give the fluid motion and keep it stable. It is important to me that she isn’t floppy, so I will make that top priority.
My goal was to make each arm is strung separately so it could be removed without restringing. I originally had something that worked but was over complicated, and now I have a mechanism that works but is pretty annoying to use. I did worry that this new idea would have the problems that it has, but it was so simple that I decided to try it. I have another idea which I think should be much better that I am going to try it out next. Worst case she will just be string wrist-to-wrist, but I am going to try hard to make them easy to remove but still very secure.
Since the elbow doesn’t allow for any rotation, I made a rotation joint on the top of the arm. This is simple so it works well. Since the cut was there anyway, I decided to get more movement out of it by allowing it to bend so she can reach across her chest. It isn’t the best looking joint, but it works well and I consider it more of a bonus joint.
The elbows are almost perfect! It is a single joint but has 150 degrees of motion. One of the inner pieces on my print broke (which is making the right arm not line-up right), but for the resin version I am going to be casting steel pins inside so that doesn’t happen. The only problem right now is the cover in the front moves up fine when you bend the arm, but doesn’t move down well. I tried to use a small loop of elastic to keep it down, but that is a pain. I am pretty sure that just by sanding it down a bit to reduce the friction it will work better, but if not I have a few ideas. It is really close to working perfectly so I am sure I can get it. The elbow itself works great is is very stable.
I wanted a more wrist-like shape so I made up for the lack of rotation under the elbow (which stays in place perfectly). I also made the hands magnetic and removable, but I think I can improve that mechanism from what I have now. Otherwise the wrist works well and has a good range of motion. The hands will be printed in a very detailed material – they are currently in a cheaper, stronger material for testing.
A lot of the hip pieces are missing. I was mostly able to test the front cover, and right now I just didn’t cut enough material away on the inside of it so it doesn’t go from the standing position where it is perfectly inline with the body, to the sitting potion where it moves up in the torso. It moves in when the leg is about 45 degrees. I can still test by just putting it in the sitting position and it seems to work very well. I am fairly confident that when I just cut out that extra material it will work exactly as I intend it, but worst case it will always have to be inside the joint a bit and won’t give that perfectly smooth line in the standing position.
None of the butt-plates got to me, so I was unable to test that. That is probably one of the more interesting parts, but I feel good about it. This could be the biggest problem if it ends up not working, but I should be able to think of something if it comes down to it.
Since the ball for the tip of the thigh has a lot of surface area where it fits into the hip, it is very stable even without elastic. The leg won’t spin around in any odd positions, or want to snap into any position.
The gaps you see in the picture will be filled in by the front cover and the butt-plate.
The top of the thighs allow for rotation and some extra bend. There is a piece in between the thigh and top of the thigh and holds the leg in place when bent, and that piece rotates too so you can choose which angle it bends at. Right now the bending doesn’t work well because I should have cut the elastic hole more. This material is annoying to dremel, but I am going to cut that to see if that solves it – I think it will. It is also annoying because when you try to bend it, that piece inside moves with the thigh. This is another simple fix – I just need to make a grove so it stays aligned to the top of the thigh.
The knees work well for 0-90 degrees. The rest I just have to make the elastic hole in the back bigger. I figured I would have to, but I was hoping with the locks it would be enough. The inner knee part also wants to pivot a bit at its full range (which is made a lot worse by the elastic hold problem). This should be an easy fix too, I just need to make groves on the inside so it stays in place. I am also going to add a sort of lock that keeps the inner knee piece attached the the lower leg so it is easier to put the leg in position for the 90+ degree bends.
There are some gaps in the 90 degree range that I am hoping to improve. They aren’t that bad, but I think I can make things even better.
Still waiting on the feet. The ankle is a separate piece – I get movement left to right where the ankle meets the lower leg, and the foot does the up and down movement. From what I can test the ankle is incredibly stable, and I am pretty sure the foot part will be as well.
There are a lot of changes to make, but they are all very small. I think all these little changes will make her a very poseable, stable doll. If there are any flaws even after the changes, I will let everyone know exactly what they are and what I plan to do about it.