How to 3D print the fabulous and furry lion!

The fluffy, hairy, furry lion is quite a unique model – here’s how to print and shape it!

As with every large agglomeration of people that are enthusiastic about a topic, there are always trends coming and going. Right now for 3D printing, it’s the hairy or furry lion, and the cool thing about this one is that it’s not just a 3D printed block of plastic, it’s actually using the properties of the plastic in quite a unique way. Let’s check it out!

So the lion design is actually loosely based on a few earlier concepts, the Drooloop flowers by Mark Peeters, and the furry vase by Daniel Noree. Both of these work on the same concept: They’ve got a regular, solid 3D printed part in the center, and at certain spots pull the molten filament string out and loop it back in. This works because the molten plastic doesn’t just run out like water, it’s actually still fairly tough and chewy. In fact, if you’ve ever tried pulling a bit of plastic from a printer’s nozzle, you’ll have seen just how much the material can stretch before it snaps. It’s the same effect that allows “3D printing” pens to work and real 3D printers to print bridges, that is when they have only two points of a print at the same height and need to connect them with just a string of material in thin air. If that’s tuned in well, it’s going to be a perfect span between those two points, but if you take away the second pillar of that bridge, the plastic is simply going to curl down, and that’s the effect the flowers and furry vase use. For the lion, it’s actual, real bridges, and those do come out perfectly straight, but of course, that means it needs that second bridge pillar, in this case the model has an extra shell around the print that gives the plastic strands something to grab onto and then gets removed after the print.

So how do you print one? Well, if it was just “download the model and print it”, I wouldn’t be making a video about it. If you have a close look at the 3D model, you’ll see that each hair is its own rectangular element, just large enough to fit two filament lines, one from the model to the outside shell, and another on the way back. The dimensions here are fairly important: Each element is 0.2mm tall and 0.8mm wide. If that sounds familiar, well, it is. This design is optimized to be printed with a 0.2mm layer height and a 0.4mm nozzle. If that mismatches what you’re actually printing with, the hair just isn’t going to come out nicely. Some models are available for example for taller layers, and the flower designs can be customized to fit your exact setup, but that 0.4mm nozzle and 0.2mm layer height should be ok for most users.

That also means you shouldn’t scale down the part before printing, because if you do, your lion is going to come out pretty bald, whether you like it or not, and in that case, you could have just printed the regular hairless lion.

Now, all these individual hairs should come out a straight and clean as possible, unless you want your lion to curly hair, of course. So make sure your bridges print settings are tuned in the filament you want to use, and maybe print one of these Make magazine test parts beforehand. I wanted to tune in bridges for the 3DPrima woodfilled filament, and by just trying out a few different settings, I settled on a faster print speed and a lower extrusion multiplier, meaning that the plastic in the bridges will get stretched tighter and not droop as much. If you’re having trouble with bridges not coming out cleanly, just play around with these two settings until you find a combination that work. What also helps is printing at a lower temperature, and for PLA and copolyester filaments, setting the part cooling fan to 100% for bridges. And now you should ready to print it! It’s going to be around a 9 hour print, ideal for leaving it overnight. Since you can go relatively light on infill, it’s only going to use 80 to 90g of filament.

So once the print is done, do not remove it from the build plate, you have to separate the hairs from the supporting tower first. For that, a box cutter knife works perfectly, and since you probably won’t be able to reach all the way down in a single pass, just go as deep as you can and then take a second pass, the hairs aren’t going to break off. You might be happy with how the lion looks at this point, I don’t know, but here’s how to get the mane looking like a mane and not just like science experiment: Hot air. Don’t make the same mistake I made and try to get the hair to flow on its own, because once you get it hot enough for that, the hairs are just going to stick to each other like crazy. Instead, try to use as little heat as possible and form the mane with your hands. You can either get it all emo like this one or keep it super fluffy, that’s up to you! Go crazy and make it unique – no other lion is going to look exactly like yours!

So I printed this one using a woodfill filament, and the texture and feel it gives the lion are really cool. This other one was printed with rainbow filament, which I think turned out even better since you have that layered style of the different colors interacting with each other. If you want to print one, too, you can use pretty much any material you want – I think a crystal clear one would look pretty sweet as well! The download links are listed below!

🛒 Get wood filament [🌐]
🛒 Get rainbow filament [🇩🇪 🌐]

Hairy lion by Primoz Cepin
Furry vase by Daniel Noree
Drooloop flowers by Mark Peeters

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