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Stian Ervik Wahlvaag is a 3D designer, multimedia developer, and father of two.



Surprise Egg #5 - Tiny Fire Truck


Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a self-taught 3d designer from Norway that started tinkering with 3D modeling fourteen years ago. Currently, I work full-time as a 3D designer providing content for a shipping bridge simulator company that delivers solutions for maritime simulations.

When I get home from work, I like to spend time with my girlfriend and two kids. Then, after the kids have gone to bed, I retreat to my man cave to work on my personal 3D modeling and printing projects.



What made you start printing?

As a 3D designer, the idea of getting a physical object out of what I draw on screen is fascinating. I remember feeling awestruck reading articles about the MakerBot Cupcake and the RepRap project, and became determined to get my own. I ordered the Thing-O-Matic as soon as it launched and spent the weekend occupying the dinner table putting the kit together. It was a fun learning experience in how a printer works!

What printer do you use?

I print with a MakerBot Replicator 2. Even though it’s five years old, the print quality still competes with those of newer models.


Human Scale Lego Mug design in front of the Makerbot Replicator 2.


Tell us more about your YouTube channel. Why did you start it?

I started my channel in YouTube's early days as a place to upload my 3D animations and modeling renders. It wasn't until about a year ago that I rebooted the channel to document my creative process more closely. I also find the filming and editing of videos to be really fun!



Where do you get inspiration for your designs and what makes them unique?

Many of my designs have a touch of childhood nostalgia combined with my interest in everyday mechanical objects.

I spend a lot of time in slicing, making sure that the proportions and thickness add up with the number of perimeters. I enjoy testing the limits of my MakerBot Replicator 2 by making tiny yet articulated models. I hope that my Surprise Egg series appeals to both adults and kids. All the work is worth it when people inspect them closely trying to figure out how they were made.

Which do you think is your best design and why?

My favourite design is the first Surprise Egg. I grew up buying a Kinder Egg every Saturday evening with my pocket money. After eating the chocolate, I would assemble the toy while watching children’s television. Invoking this childhood nostalgia makes this project fun to design and iterate.


Surprise Egg #1 - Tiny Haul Truck


Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?

Designing for 3D printing is often very time-consuming, but instead of getting demotivated by the amount of work, embrace the iterative process. Collect all the test prints and iterations, line them up and enjoy seeing how a project evolves and comes to life over time.



Surprise Egg #6 - Tiny Jet Fighter


Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/agepbiz
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/agepbiz/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/agepbiz
Homepage: http://www.agep.biz/

Surprise Egg #5 - Tiny Fire Truck
by agepbiz
Human Scale LEGO Mug
by agepbiz
Surprise Egg #1 - Tiny Haul Truck
by agepbiz
Surprise Egg #6 - Tiny Jet Fighter
by agepbiz

Hello Stian, from a fellow designer, I would like to compliment you on your work! wonderful fun concepts and so well designed for 3D printing.
Can you give some tips of gaps used above, below, sides for allowance of movements?
What do you use around wheel axels for example? 0.2-0.3? what about above and below ?

Awesome work! Now that you have a number of designs under your belt what would you consider key when designing a model that must articulate and simply be printable on most machines? I'm thinking things such as allowances in parts, assemblies/hinges that print better then others, and etc.

Awe-inspiring work.

Glorious! Well done, and nice advice about learning to embrace the process.

Hi, what free 3d modelling software do you recommend? I like your models!

Thanks! Unfortunately I dont use any free software. I use 3ds Max. If I had to learn another software it would be blender and or Fusion360

Ok, thanks. Fusion 360 is not free unless you are a student. 123D Design is also good, but it is discontinued.

Fusion 360 is free for hobbyist. Just download the trial, click register, and select hobbyist.

Isn't that only for 30 days?

For a year, and after that you renew again for a year. There's a limit to what you can earn from your Fusion360 work, so for hobbyists, it's free.

This is a really cool article, and I love your designs, but they are so complicated!

When designing your models, do you create and print each component or idea separate, like the folding mechanisms for the wing, or do you build from the bottom up and create them by starting as a whole model?

Also, would it be a good idea for somebody who is starting to model to look at other people's stls and models to see how they solve problems?

Thank you! I do often start by making the mechanism first, then build the rest of the model around it. For the Jet I made an initial prototype of the wing gears first, but had to make a simple tail as well so that I could start printing it standing as I needed.
Yes, I learn a lot from studying other peoples work and solutions, getting inspiration. I bet much of this world is built from the knowledge of reverse engineering stuff :)

This is a nice article and I like that you are self taught like many of us here. I am slowly learning on my own and I love learning from other people on here.

What is your favorite 3d modeling software? Did you start out with something simpler and move up to more complex software programs?

Thank you!

Thanks! The software I used in the beginning and for many years is a splinebased modelling and animation software called Animation:Master. I had to switch to 3ds Max and polymodelling five years ago when I started in a new job, and is what I am currently using. I wish I had the time to learn Fusion360 and Blender or similar just to broaden my toolset, hopefully I find some time to tinker with them in near future

Awesome!!! I love your designs. They are simple, yet so intriguing!

Right now, I am a very new designer. I love to create 3D printable models (and I have), but I would love for you to maybe explain your design process. Do you draw (on paper) ideas first, then go straight to modeling, then printing? Or what is the most efficient way for you to design great models?

Thank you! The first thing I always do is collect reference photos and inspiration to put in a folder. Depending on the size of the project I can spend many evenings googling and searching. Then I usually go straight to modelling. I think my "design stage" photo explains it best, I usually have the overall idea in my head and I just start blocking out the shape. I adjust the shape of the model along the way, this is because a computer screen might give you wrong impression of the proportions and perspective of a model, so often when a model looks nice on a render It might look out of proportion printed out in real life. For me, sketching in 3D is just as fast as using pen and paper. Since I have made a few models already I can start reusing parts, like wheels and hinges. The reused parts are nice starting points for a model to build upon.

Thanks for sharing some of your methodology. It's inspiring to see what people have come up with and how they do it!

I wish I had got involved with this years ago. At my age now CAD is very hard to learn. I love your designs and projects. I printed several of the eggs and I am in awe of the precision. I would love to design a project with moving parts that prints all at once like those toys in the eggs. I have Fusion 360 but its over my head. I have been using TInkercad since I have never used CAD software before. I am guessing these cant be done in Tinkercad. And I am guessing it takes a lot of skill to make something with moving parts printed all at once. Do you have any suggestions for and old kid that would love to make a few of my own?

Thank you! Actually I didn't make these using CAD software but polymodelling using 3ds Max, so no parametric modelling. In the end it is not the software that makes these, the software is just a tool to help you visualize your ideas. I bet you can do amazing stuff with Tinkercad if that is the tool you are familiar with