Teacup Dragon Puppet

by Whystler Feb 20, 2012
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I would like to print one of her out as a display model for a stall I will be holding at a Comic, Record and Toy fair, with your permission. She's rather cute and I think she'd be great to show off my printer's capabilties :) Please let me know :)

Built a dragon today.

I ended up having to trim the "guide posts" on the neck for the head in order to get the head to fit on, but a little glue and it was no problem. I had to do the same thing with the horns, but again, no problem. I think it's because my printer isn't exactly the most precise.

The entire project, though, is amazing!! It looks great!!

I plan on doing some finishing and painting to this over the next couple of weeks.


I have created a second set of alternate horns for those who have trouble with the thin ones. The base is a little thicker, so you may have to give this area a little sanding for the perfect fit - or not - depending on your printer.

Let me know how you make out with these horns by commenting in
this thread, and I will see what I can do to adjust accordingly.



Hello Whystler,

1st thanks for the beautiful dragon. I watched your older creations on shapeways and it is great that you have your own printer now. I have build one myself as natural next step after ordering something at shapeways. ;-)

The Horns are really a bit difficult. Printed them in black PLA without much
issues, but ABS was not that easy. they broke at the bottom several times after about 1cm.
it was not a problem of the connection to the heatbed. But the horns are quite thin at the lower 3mm.
I tried to add a small block beneath. but this was not the solution.
Lowering the speed was not good as w
ell, because they where too soft.
Adding a fan to cool the parts made them too brittle.

So in my case, for the horns, ABS was much worse then PLA.

At the moment the body is printing. One part a day, because i dont have that much time, but it grows. "I Made One" Pictures are following. ;-)


Also, here's a tip ... others have printed out the horns by printing 4 horns at once. I'm not sure why this is good, but apparently it works - while you are waiting for the new horns :)


see above post - I uploaded a short, thicker set of horns. Let me know what you think by commenting up there :)

yes, thanks...

ill try them this evening.

the tip printing 4 at once looks logical, because one horn has now 4 times the time to cool down in between layers.

ill try this as well.

why didnt i thought of this.. ;-)

Thank you Eric!

To ne honest, I was thinking about adding the horns as a separate file for people to use as an extra thing. They weren't part of the original design. But I did put them in, in the end. I'm sorry you are having trouble.

What I will do, is make a second version of the horns for those people who
cannot print them well and perhaps also take them out of the original file.

Thanks for your feedback and for your kind words!


I just printed the base yesterday, not really watched the size, so it came out a lot larger then I had expected. Where the hell did you find tea-cups that large?

I also had troubles with printing it at 110mm/s, it caused stops at the outlines because of the high poly count. (Skeinforge's fault IMHO, maybe Slic3r does a better job) but now I have a body with lots of blobs. Almost if he has warts :P

Warts are good! There are already large warts on the dragon, so maybe the little ones work too? :)

Well, she is also a bit fat... She needs a special teacup. Mostly she drinks from them! Haha, seriously though, I think there is an instance where someone printed her smaller, if you check out the "I printed one" section. It's a white version sitting on a laptop keybord.

Do you think the horns would print better if I put a base on them? And then you would just have to clip off the base?

The model mostly printed well. Unfortunately, the horns were problematic (not surprisingly). Fiddling with temperatures, z-height for better adhesion, and eventually printing 4 sets at a time, gave me a pair that were usable.

My wife's reaction was worth the extra work.

Very nice print, may I ask what you're printing with?

Awesome! Now someone make space for an LED in the head that shines out the eyes and maybe the mouth, a tiny handmade solenoid in the body to move the head, and a small timer circuit/watch battery in the body to run both!

Wow! You are forward thinking lol

Hey Nudel_P

Thanks for your comments and for printing her on a Makerbot! I printed her in one go on an UP! with no issues, so it's really nice to hear about your experience. Maybe I could address a few of your points.

-STRANGE BOTTOM: Yes, I'm aware of the weird traignles. They did not appear until after
I did a booelean function where I used the slightly scaled neck piece to subtract a hole for itself in the body. I was happy that the triangle issue didn't affect the overall print, but just made the bottom layer slightly stange to look at. Since you mentioned it, I'll go in and see what I can do
with the bottom manually.

-HORNS ... Hrmm ... darn.... Did you have a problem printing them the first time, and then had to reprint them in a special way? I figured they'd be fine since I'd seen other very small upright printed parts (ie. the queen anne furniture line) printed well on the makerbot
. I could try to redesign them thicker ... or I could redesign them sideways, but then you would get that noodly top crosssection....

-SPEED CHANGE: Did you feel you had to print the body at different speeds? Or did you do this after a trial where it didn't work on the first print?

... Ahhhh good point about the post that moves her head sticking out that bottom, making it difficult to set her flat. I have an idea - tell me what you think... What if I were to modify the post, such that it sat just a little below the body (5mm). Then, when sitting flat, it would push the nec
k up only a little bit, which is fine AND then I could add a second longer piece-handle that snaps onto the end of the post for length. So that when you want to make her move, you just push on the "handle" and when you want her to sit pretty, you pop off the handle. What do you think?

Happy to help. Just to clarify, I printed it on a RepRap Prusa, not a makerbot. ;) It's a bit of a challenging print, but I guess it should be printable on any decently calibrated home printer.

-Strange bottom
Sounds good. Optimally you might want to clean it up and add more geometry to the bottom, avoiding so many triangles meeting in a single point, but that's just nitpicking as most slicers handle it fine.

I did try printing both of them at the same time, but it didn't work. E
ither the parts got too hot, or the nozzle knocked it off since the base is so tiny. Adding a bigger base and moving them close to the cooling fan fixed it.
It might and probably would have worked better if I printed more parts at the same time, or perhaps even 4-6 horns instead of only the two.
o, is it just me or do the horns look smaller on my print than yours?

-Speed change
I printed the part up until the fins faster and with lower infill to save speed, but slowed down at the more detailed parts to get better quality and a sealed top. The seam is surprisingly hard to spot, even though
the speed is 4 times faster.
There's a nice write-up about why and how changing the speed and infill can be useful, here: http://richrap.blogspot.com/2012/01/slic3r-is-nicer-part-2-filament-and.htmlhttp://richrap.blogspot.com/20...

-Sitting flat
I was thinking more about perhaps hollowing out the body so the handle doesn't protrud
e below the bottom, but you can still reach it with your fingers?
Anyway, I just tried cutting off part of the handle, and it does the trick, though it is a bit harder to rotate the neck with the jaw all the way closed. A small extension bit could help, but I actually think it might not be needed.

Now, perhaps we should add some servo mounts? And a tiny flamethrower?

oh gawd ... a flamethrower lol! Like a little butane lighter?


Did you slice with slic3r? I keep getting a missing first layer on one of the pieces which then turns into disaster around layer 2 or 3. This is with the full plate. I'm not sure how to clean the lower layer issues properly.

Ahem "did you slice differently with slic3r" is what I meant ;)

Ok, I just uploaded what I think are fixed versions of the bottom layer on the BODY and the CHIN. If you look in the list, you will see there is a body-fixed, and a chin-fixed. Would you be able to test to see if you have clising issues with them? I use an UP! so I don't have to worry about the slicing process. It's just happens.

I can confirm the bottom is indeed completely flat in the fixed versions, it now slices perfectly.

@rgoodwin: I haven't tried the full plate, but the single parts slices fine in slic3r v0.6.0 with 0.3mm layers. It also printed fine despite the first few layers being a bit messy.

Let me give a go at downloading and plating them and try....

Just about finished with all the parts except that the horns broke off the HBP. I might use SF and put a 2 layer raft or something just to keep them on :)

Hm, the UP! automatically prints a 3mm raft. So mine were printed with a raft.

Nudel said that he would prefer the horns to be thicker, but that presents the problem of them not fitting into the holes in the head.

If you have any suggestions about the horns, let me know! :)

(slicing) geez, we are having problems with that word tonight :)

I'm going to upload a new version - hold on...

She is beautiful, and great fun to print!

A few hints and wishes:
Both the body and jaw stl have some triangle errors, and thus lack a perfectly flat bottom, making the first layers sketchy.
The horns are pretty difficult to print, and would benefit from either being part of the head, and/or being a bit thicker. I printed them in PLA on m
y Prusa by adding a small platform, printing one at a time at super slow speed and with a fan pointed directly at them.
Stitching together several gcode outputs from slic3r (thanks RichRap!), I printed the body at different speeds, 120mm/s + 0.2 infill for the bottom part, and 30mm/s + 0.4 infill fo
r the details. It printed in about 3.5 hours.
Having moving parts is what sells this though, that is pure brilliance! I'd wish it'd been solved a bit different so she could also sit on a flat surface, though.

Still, it's awesome, thanks for sharing! Now, everybody go print this!

Oops, I addressed your info here as a separate comment, not as a reply.

see top post - I uploaded a short, thicker set of horns. Let me know what you think by commenting up there :)

If you're running Marlin (looks like it) you can also send a "M220 Sxxx", where xxx specifies the wanted print speed in percent. So for slowing down the print to half of what Slic3r calculated, you could just insert a "M220 S50" or send it manually mid-print, instead of slicing it with different feedrates.

Anyways, nice print of a kick-ass thing!

Thanks, didn't know that, sounds very useful to change speed live!

I still see the use of stitching gcode though, especially to vary the infill. Some of the lower part of the dragon could probably have been printed with as low as 0.05 infill. If we could select which layers to process it'd be easy to set up a batch job with Slic3r. This'll definitively be a featu
re in the slicers someday in the near future, if it's not already, and I've missed it.