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I want to make an anime-style figurine in Blender with long strands of wavy hair coming down from pigtails, similar to sailor moon, but more so.

They are going to be extremely challenging to print in place as they will be very thin and difficult to support.

Would it be possible simply to print long flat strips of PLA straight onto my bed 5 mm wide, 200 mm long, and a couple of mm thick, and then to heat them up after printing with a heat gun or some other means, and reshape them to make them wavy, then attach them to my model with glue before painting?

I haven't started on the model yet so I have no pictures to provide.

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  • $\begingroup$ Have you considered using a resin printer? These can achieve better details. Of course, would mean buying and learning a new printer if you didn't already have one. $\endgroup$
    – agarza
    Dec 1, 2021 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ I've tried this kind of thing with a resin printer before and had trouble with the strands breaking when I tried to remove the supports or things breaking free from the support during printing . I'm looking for alternatives. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2021 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ You can also weld the pieces onto the model instead of gluing them. $\endgroup$
    – user10489
    Dec 2, 2021 at 3:25

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Yes, printing a flat strand structure and then shaping it using heat to form hair is something people already do, for example with the Hairy Lion model.

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For extrusion printing you may want to add the hair with a 3d printing pen rather than trying to shape the print with heat. The print will tend to stick to anything that touches it when hot enough to reshape it. I've tried to smooth surfaces this way (heating the completed print) and it only makes them worse. Otherwise, you can try using supports as Paul point out.

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    $\begingroup$ I might be missing something, but who is Paul, what did he point out and where did he point it out? $\endgroup$
    – Greenonline
    Dec 2, 2021 at 14:42
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YES you can reshape printed PLA with heat.

I have a bin for all my brim/cleanup offcuts, stored at the printer. When it gets a bit full I simply blast it with my hot-air gun normally used for finishing prints. This shrinks the wispy bits, and thicker parts soften and droop down under their own weight.

Downside, I think hair that is printed flat, and then softened with hot air runs the risk of looking like "just got out of a swimming pool" hair instead of anything styled or realistic.

Definitely worth a try though!

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Yes you can reshape a print with heat. Do note that PLA filament starts to melt at about 60 degrees. There are actually models designed to be printed and then shaped with a hairdryer/heat gun. You can also smooth out prints but that is very tricky and I don't recommend it. If you want to smooth a print you are better off printing ABS and using acetone vapour.

Here is a print that has reshaping hair: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2007221

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to 3D Printing SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. $\endgroup$
    – agarza
    Dec 5, 2021 at 14:00

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