Man standing in front of virtual background and city. Source: Shutterstock
Man standing in front of virtual background and city. Source: Shutterstock

For fans of Minecraft, there is an exciting way to bring your Minecraft buildings to life: 3D printing. 3D printing services such as WhiteClouds can 3D print your Minecraft model and ship it to your home.

Here’s what Kyle Gifford, a designer at WhiteClouds, has to say about the process:

Tell us about the project you’re working on?

I’m working on the community-developed program called Mineways.  It will print your Minecraft creations directly from your world!  Minecraft itself is essentially limitless when it comes to design potential and provides a great opportunity for both adults and kids alike to express themselves.

What inspires your designs?

This is one of those things where the design is done solely by the consumer.  Nearly anything can be printed as long as it is gravitationally sound.

How are these designs different from other products out there?

I think the most unique aspect of this product is the fact that kids can print out their own creations.  While most 3D modeling is done with high-end computers and expensive software, Mineways is very versatile and easy to learn. The ease of access is great for those young designers.

How do you think your designs will help people or fill a need?

Because of the immense popularity of Minecraft and other 3D applications, many more people are being exposed to the world of 3D design. The ability to print your own designs provides the unique opportunity to learn about color aesthetics and structure from a physical point of view.  This provides a cheaper way for younger people to not only learn design basics, but become involved in the rapidly growing industry of 3D printing.

What software do you use to create the designs?

Mineways files are run through Maya so that the mesh can be combined and rotated as needed.  The files are then pushed to Zprint for color printing!

What 3D printer are you using to print the final design?

The ProJet 660 Pro, formerly known as the ZPrinter, is used because of its ability to print in color.

Tell us about your process from the start of a new design to finish.

I receive the file from the customer and will rotate it as needed.  The part is checked for floating pieces, thin features/walls, and holes.  Once the part is checked, the color is remapped from somewhere the printer can recognize. The file is then sent to production to be placed onto the build tray and then printed.

What are your thoughts when you see your design 3D printed? Do you look for flaws and improve the design?

Because customers are the designers with Mineways, we check for any flaws that may compromise the piece during printing or cleaning.  Other than that we print everything exactly the way it is sent to us.

What post-production processes do you do?

The typical ZPrint post processing is used with Mineways files.  We use a combination of brushes and air compressors to remove excess powder from the part.  It is then sealed within a super glue that brings out the color and strengthens the piece.

What is the most common problem you’ve encountered and how did you solve it?

Thin or unattached blocks are a concern because it becomes hard to post-process them without damage to the print.  Mineways has a process to fix these spots.  While this does sometimes change the design, it is a necessary precaution used to keep the object from breaking. We ask that all customers are mindful of this because we would hate to send you a broken print.

What is the most exciting thing about your work?

Seeing the different creations people come up with in Minecraft.  I have been a regular player for years, but still find myself in awe at some of the structures people manage to come up with.

Finally, what tips would you give to home users trying to design the same type of thing?

You keep designing and we’ll keep on printing. We here at WhiteClouds love to see what crazy things you come up with.

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