Loggerhead Sea Turtle (poseable)

by 4MULE8, published

Loggerhead Sea Turtle (poseable) by 4MULE8 Oct 11, 2013

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A model loggerhead turtle with moveable flippers. You could call it an "action figure", but there's a distinct absence of mutation and/or martial arts training for this little guy!

All four flippers are attached by ball joints that are captured during the printing process. The front and back halves of the model snap together with the included H-clip.

Some cool info about loggerheads: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isjxWHoMz1E

Just want to print it?
Then "Loggerhead_plated.STL" is the file for you!

Switch off automatic supports in your slicer software. There are only two supports needed and they're included in the STL. Don't forget to snap them off with pliers after printing.

Plate it yourself? Dual Extruder? Soluble supports?
Download "Loggerhead_unplated.zip" and may The Force be with you.


The model is designed to print with only two supports (included in the STL) for the rear flipper ball joints in the back half of the model.

After printing the back half its supports should be removed with pointy-nosed pliers. You should see a kind of crown pattern where the support and and the ball meet. It doesn't really matter if you can't get the whole support out - the back flippers will still move, but not quite as much.

The joints have a 0.5mm clearance when printed at 100% scale, which should be fine for most printers. If they feel too loose after printing then try heating the model and pressing the surrounding plastic to tighten the socket.

Depending on your printer and slicer calibration the very first layer may fuse the ball and socket together in the front half of the model. If this happens then carefully cut through to the gap with a hobby knife after printing. Update: I have uploaded a version designed to minimise any first layer fusing (see Loggerhead_NoFuseJoints_plated.STL).

The two halves will join together best if the surface between them is perfectly flat. For this reason I would suggest printing without a raft if possible (or sanding off any marks it leaves).

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Any chance you have this model solid and as one piece? Great model as well

Check my cute remix! Printing soon!

Hello, I just had a look at the file you've uploaded and spotted a couple of little problems. Firstly, your front and back halves don't quite line up with each other! Secondly, the way you've merged the two turtles means the the large turtle overlaps into the ball joints on the small turtle, so the joints will be stuck in the backwards position that they print in, and they won't move. Also you've run a decimation / poly-reduction filter on the model, which has unfortunately collapsed part of the hole for the clip in the small turtle... but you haven't included the clip anyway, so this might not be much of a problem for you!

If you want a big one and a small one to go together, why don't you just print a big one and a small one? It might be easier. ;-)

Good luck with your print!

Thanks for the comment . Did you print one or did you just analyze the model? I really just wanted the smaller one for decoration. I am literally printing right at this moment. I will show you the result

Came out awesome. I printed the entire turtle at once and it came out perfectly! Great model.

Thanks, I'm glad it worked so well for you!

Couldn't get any of them to print on a Taz5 without fusing the support to the model.

I love this! Great job on the design work, it's brilliant. Quick question though, I printed it and it fits together, but if I try to move the fins then the seam gets huge, is that supposed to happen?

Thanks. It sounds like you haven't removed the supports from the back half. They look like tubes inside the two larger holes.

Thanks for the response. I don't see anything in there. But I just read through your comment and missed turning off the automatic supports, so I wonder if that's the problem.

No worries. There are two suppots actually included in the model of the rear half. Have you already removed these with pliers after printing? If you haven't then they will clash with the ball joints on the front, and it will push the two halves apart when you try to move the flippers.

...I snapped off his leg messing around with it.:D I'll print one again and look for supports this time. What's the difference between your plated/non plated/fused models?


Have a look at the print about 10 minutes after it's started. In the back half you'll see two small rings inside the larger holes (not like the solid circles in the front half). These small rings are the supports, and they extend all the way up inside the back half to meet with the ball joints for the rear flippers.

The models marked "plated" contain all the pieces laid out ready to print in one go. The "unplated" one has each piece in a separate STL file in case you want to try something like dual extrusion. The "no-fuse" version has larger gap between the ball joints and their sockets for the front flippers. This is to help stop the parts from becoming fused to each other on the first few layers and ruining the print.

If your printer is pretty reliable then just use "Loggerhead_plated.STL". If your printer is a little bit sloppy, or the front flippers were all sealed up on the first layer in a previous print then use "Loggerhead_NoFuseJoints_plated.STL" instead. The "NoFuseJoints" version also works better if you're trying to print at small scales like 75% or less.

Good luck this time!

Oh my goodness. I thought those circles were structural. Thanks so much for helping me figure that out:D It's an amazing design and I can't wait to make a few more.

Thank you!

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This is absolutely GORGEOUS!!! I am printing it as a gift. Thank you for your design and the time it took for you to make it. Is there a way to post just the H clip by chance? I snapped one. I tried to get just the clip via sketch up but it was not behaving. Definitely a fantastic work of art you designed!

Thank you very much for your comments! :)

The STL for the H-Clip on its own is included in the "Loggerhead_unplated.zip" download http://www.thingiverse.com/download:330888

Thank you very much for your comments! :)

The STL for the H-Clip on its own is included in the "Loggerhead_unplated.zip" download http://www.thingiverse.com/download:330888

Thank you very much!

My pleasure!

Just printed this at 60% on my Wanhao Duplicator i3 (which is finely tuned)

It's amazing. Adorable design, seamless assembly. Literally. You can't see the seam.

Would you be able to make your pin assembly mechanism available? it's the best I've seen honestly.

Thanks, I'm glad you like it! :)

Sure, feel free to use the pin / clip system for other projects! I'll upload it as a separate Thing in a few minutes.

what happens if scaled down to 0.5 will this still work ok or will it make it a bit dodgy ps lovely model my hat goes off to you


It depends on your printer. My Ultimaker 2 can do it at 0.5 scale with the joints still working, but my older RepRap can't.

This is one of the best models I've seen or printed. My front flippers did get stuck however.

Printing the entire turtle at once was not a good option for me. Could you upload the no fuse joints in parts please?

I'd love to re-print the front half with little-no fusing if possible.

Thanks! Ah, that's a shame about the front part, hopefully the next try works better! It can depend a lot on the printer / slicer combo you're using. My RepRap with Slic3r tends to over-extrude a bit on the first layers and often fuses it, but you can usually just cut through with a knife. My Ultimaker 2 using Cura gets it perfect (even at 50% scale), but then it prints the rear supports too solidly and I have trouble removing it all the way up to the ball joint.

I've uploaded the "no fuse" front part on it's own for you. Good luck! The clip and the rear part are the same, so just use the STL's in the "unplated" zip if you need another copy of them.

Wow, I'm really touched that you replied this quickly and honored my request! I used a knife and cut out the circular holes to free up those front ball joints. So I saved it! Looks less than perfect on the inside but now that it's fully functional it's beautiful!

My wife almost cried! $200 monoprice MP Mini 3D Printer + $150 Simplify3D are my weapons. Your model is amazing.

I do look forward to printing more turtles to give as gifts but maybe at a reduced size! :)

Thanks again 4MULE8.

I have a DP3000 that needs to be used intermittently between our company prints. This little guy was a personal necessity. But I'm curious, do you have a single piece STL of this?

Oh nice, sounds cool! I'm not very familiar with that printer, but I understand it produces wax models for dental casting?

Couple of options, depending on what you want to do with the model. I could give you a single solid STL with no joints if you're planning to cast it. Or if you prefer, I could give you a single STL with the ball-and-socket joints in place, but without the split, internal support, clip, etc.

this is one of the best objects I've seen for a 3D printer - fantastic modeling. my kids love it!

I fused my together using a propane torch - that worked really well (just hold each side on opposite ends of the torch (get about 6 inches of flame) - when the plastic starts to melt, press the two pieces together. it wont be seamless, but it looks REALLY great

fantastic! consider making more toys! (charge for them!)

You you very much for your comment! I'm glad it's gone down as a success with the kids!

Ok I printed this thing and it took 12h and 55m and it came out FLAWLESS! I did have to dig out a little extra material in the grooves but it was minimal. I am using a www.robo3d.com for a 3D printer. Kudos to you for an amazing print! If this does not come out right then your printer sucks or you just don't know what you are doing. I have printed tons of things and this actually came out with impeccable moving parts! Hats off to you!

This turned out great! wonderful design. made it for a gift and I have a feeling I will be making a few more. thanks!!

Cheers, glad it worked well!

Love the design. I can't seem to break the front flipper supports off when its done though, 75% ABS. I think I'll have to cut them away. I've already ruined two designs trying to just pry them, I'm going to cut them away this time. The rear supports work great though.

Unfortunately the front flippers can be a bit more challenging for some printers. If it's slightly out of whack then it'll tend to fuse the ball into the socket, especially printing at smaller sizes.

I printed 85% max size on a Z18 in translucent green. Came out beautifully! However, 0.6mm shell at that size means the supports were impossible to get out. I compromised by hacking down the tops of the supports so at least the front legs have full range of motion. Final assembled model is about 14 inches long (see photo). I only did 5% infill, so it was ~40 hours of printing.
If I print again at a large size, I would probably try to create my own supports for the arms using Meshmixer.

Just printed this at 2x scale, turned out awesome. I will post pics when I get a chance.
The biggest problem I had was with the supports being almost IMPOSSIBLE to remove. I had to hack at it for a good 45 min to get it off enough to move freely. Maybe if the castle top on the supports came to more of a narrow peak (lines out radially from the center perhaps). As long as there is something there to get it started, it doesn't have to be real pretty since it is inside.
Anyway, I love it, and my wife thinks it is one of the coolest prints I have done. At that size it took almost half a spool, so not real cheap, and about 40 hours of printing time, but really cool nonetheless.

Came out perfectly (0.8mm shell thickness, no infill). Awesome model, great supports! I was a little nervous breaking the supports as it took quick a bit of force, but it worked perfectly.

Awesome, I'm glad to hear that. Your print looks good, and I didn't think the design would work very well without infill!

The supports probably are tougher than really necessary - I was paranoid that the design would just collapse. I've printed a couple of turtles at 75% scale and the supports popped out much more easily!

I completed a 12hr 8min print on this beauty yesterday. Did the Plated version with no supports and it came out very nice. Question is about the H-clip. The gap where it goes seems to be "blocked", should I cut that away for assembly?

Perhaps the clip was slightly squashed onto the bed and the cross-bar is thicker than it should be? I just use a knife to carefully shave off a little bit of the clip if this happens.

The success of the clip seems to depend very much on the printer, calibration, flavour of filament, lunar phase, air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow, etc.

Are you suggesting that swallows are migratory?

The H-Clip doesn't even get deep into the gap, there appears to be a "blockage" covering most of the gap where it goes. Did not do the NoFusedJoints version, did the reg Plated one. The H-Clip doesn't go into the gap at all really. Should I cut away the obstruction in the gap?

Hmm, weird. I guess you should cut it away then. There is a kind of "roof" over most of the gap (to match the H shape with a bit of clearance), but it shouldn't block the clip unless the clip was a bit squashed. The only difference in the NoFuseJoints version is that there is a bigger gap at the base of the front ball and socket joints for people printing without a raft.

I really just use the clip as a guide for glue anyway.

Sent you a private msg on here.

I notice this great model just a week ago. It's a lovely and high quality model that prints nicely on my UM2. Printed in yellow at 0,05mm really brings this model to life!

Thanks for the feedback! Sounds like awesome resolution, I'd love to see you post a photo!

This turtle is amazing. People that see it on my desk freak out! Hats off to a great model. I have now printed two so I could give one to another teacher!

Hahaha, that's awesome! Thanks. I've got one on my desk too, which my manager saw recently, and asked if I could print another.

So far my favorite item that I printed from thingiverse! Still blows people away every time they pick it up.

I tip my hat and thank everyone who has been printing this guy (and Thingiverse for featuring it a few weeks ago)!

Update: for those of you who have had the front flippers get stuck (myself included), I have uploaded a version designed to minimise any plastic fusing on the first couple of layers if printing without a raft. See "Loggerhead_NoFuseJoints_plated.STL". Use this if you have trouble with the main file, though I haven't tested it myself.

One of the best things I have printed so far! Realistic, amazing design - prints perfect. Thank you very much for this turtle.

Thanks for printing it, and I appreciate the positive feedback!

The modeling on this is fantastic. I only wish I had half as much skill. Very, very nice.

Thanks, I appreciate the compliment! I normally use 3ds Max, but decided to give Blender a shot for making this one. It turns out Blender is quite awesome, and there are a lot of good tutorials on youtube. I did however use 3ds to cut and plate the model though, because its Boolean operations seem to be more powerful and reliable.

Phenomenal design! couple of questions:

  1. Which files do i need to download (i have makerbot replicator 2)
  2. Should i print on a raft?
  3. should i print with supports?

1: "Loggerhead_plated.STL"
2: Probably not. The two halves need a really flat surface to get a nice join.
3: No. The supports are part of the STL model.

Good luck!

Thank you so much for your help! I will try printing tomorrow!

Amazing design! How much of the supports do we remove? Should we expect the back flippers to have the same range of motion as the front? I am afraid to keep hacking away getting all the supports off.

I'm glad you like it! I've just updated the "Instructions" tab with some more information a few minutes ago. Yes, they should have a similar range of motion, which does mean digging a scary distance into the model. There's a kind of crown pattern between the support and the ball (to minimise contact area), which should become clearly visible when you get the support out. I use a flat screwdriver to pop the last few mm (where the support starts to thicken) out by twisting the screwdriver head carefully between the support and the wall of the hollow area.

Thanks for the info. I destroyed my first print trying to hack the supports away. On to attempt 2 now. Has anyone else noticed how much the cross section where the pieces meet looks like Stewie Griffin?

BAHAHA, it really does!!
Good luck with round 2. Another idea you could try is to print the version for dual extrusion instead (which has the supports moved to a separate STL) and let your slicer generate automatic supports. It'll use a bit more plastic but might be easier to remove. On the other hand if it generates excess support material in the little gaps between the balls and sockets they might be harder to get moving.

argh no matter how I print it the two halves dont match up, not sure what I'm doing wrong.

Hmm, in what way? Did you remove the two hollow supports from inside the back half after printing? (They extend all the way up to support the ball underneath each rear flipper.)

No it's ok, I think I figured it out.. The flat bases were warping very slightly, so when they two halves went together they were fanning outward a bit, but I tried printing in PLA instead where I only have the bed at like 70c and it printed really flat, it just was weird as the ABS I was using never warps when printing this sort of halved-glue together prints.

Yeah I had the same serious warping problem but only on the front (top) piece. I also broke the rear flipper trying to remove the supports. Cool idea, but for a 7 hour print, I think I'll take my chances on something else...

Can you separate the STL for PLA version want to make a big one PLZ

done. And good luck!

Sure, I'll export the pieces when I get home (~12 hours).

"An Excellent Turtle"

-Chef Excellence

Haha, my regards to the Chef! ;)

This is really great work. Well done!

Why thank you, sir! :D

should you do it with supports or without?

There are two supports included in the plated STL, so you should disable automatic supports in whatever slicer you use. I've designed the model to obey the "45 degree rule", but there are a few small bridges. I'd recommend printing with 0.3mm layer height or less to minimise the size of the bridges.

Congrats on being featured!

Woohoo, thanks! And thanks to Thingiverse admin! :D

Great job on the model. Love it!

Thank you! I had been bouncing the design concept around my head for a few weeks and decided to try to learn Blender while making it. The integrated sculpt tool is great!