Crikey: 3D Printing In And Out Of Minecraft

Toy stores are in so much trouble.

3D printing is one of those things that I’m not quite sure if I believe in. I mean, sure, I’ve watched videos of the devices printing, and yes, I’ve held physical objects that have been printed. But still, come on, it doesn’t sound very realistic, does it? Via Alice Taylor, who is currently creating a business around the mystical world of such printing (gratuitous plug for my podcast interviewing her and Cory Doctorow), comes a video of MIT students figuring out a way to print 3D objects created in Minecraft. And via that comes a video of someone printing 3D objects within Minecraft.

Minecraft.print is a project simply dedicated to showing how it’s possible to run a small Python script and see creations you’ve build in Minecraft come pouring out of your 3D printer. (And that’s not as unrealistic as it sounds – while the professional ones still cost around £800,000, you can get a home printer for as little as $1300 or even “free”.) Here they naturally print a Weighted Companion Cube, because otherwise it wouldn’t be geeky enough.

I’m a little surprised by how rough the results look – especially that awful Enterprise – having seen some exquisitely detailed 3D prints can be. But to buoy yourself after that disappointment, check out the video the MIT guys link to from their own page:

This is what he gets done when he’s busy.


  1. Lewie Procter says:

    I bet the xbox version gets kinect object scanning.

  2. godgoo says:

    pigs ALWAYS get in my printer, using up all the oink.

  3. amishmonster says:

    Is the roughness of the models because it’s being modeled off something made of little cubes? Either way, it IS kind of disappointing.

    And at the same time, quite impressive.

  4. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Hello sheepy!

  5. Sinomatic says:

    You know what would be better? If it was in chocolate.

  6. MiniMatt says:

    I can imagine a future in which Lego’s lawyers go after torrent websites with the same vigour as the RIAA.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      There has already been a take-down order on someone who made a 3D model file of the “alien cube” from that Super 8 film for printing via a 3D printer.

      link to

  7. Matt-R says:

    Usually you have to give them a light sanding if they’re powder based so that could be the problem with the roughness…

    • Sweedums says:

      indeed, we have a 3D printer at Uni and when the models come out we use a little air brush to basically just blow all the little rough bits off, but as someone mentioned, it might be because theyprinted a model made up of tiny cubes…. its hard to tell which is the reason though.

  8. Jams O'Donnell says:

    The minecraft object is rough, therefore the printed object is rough. I do not think it’s that hard to follow. :)

    • Starky says:

      Exactly, and the Enterprise looks a bit crap because there is just too much detail to shrink down into that size of an object – even if that detail is rough and blocky.

      You’d need to print it to the size of a car to notice any of the finer detail in the minecraft model.

  9. Teddy Leach says:

    Bloody hell.

  10. Tei says:

    I can’t wait to download famous actress from the Internet.


  11. Scythe says:

    The black stuff you see on the enterprise model is the support material, probably printed in a different plastic to the white stuff. This is just laid down to support the stuff built on top of it, because depositation-based 3d printers can’t do steep overhangs. If you look closely at the shot of the companion cube printing you’ll notice it has black stuff on it too. When they’re finished printing they will probably dunk it into some kind of solvent that attacks the black substance, but not the white, leaving behind the finished print.
    I built myself a mendel, a type of reprap, and I’ve been printing off lots of awesome stuff. Haven’t done any minecraft stuff yet, but there’s plenty of it here.

  12. airbreaker says:

    How can you fly in Minecraft?

  13. monotrophic says:

    Your machine does nothing a player can’t do himself. Fail.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Yes, because a player can print a companion cube. Perhaps it comes out of the player’s nose or arse.

    • JB says:

      I think mono means the 3D printer in MC, not the ones in the real world.

    • MD says:

      Man. I’m tempted to rage at you for missing the point so hard, but instead I’m just going to sit here and feel smug. If you can’t find any interest or joy in this sort of thing, you’re the one missing out. Keep your gratuitous negativity to yourself, though.

    • JB says:

      @MD – Right on. I was feeling the same. Most machines do stuff that we can do, we’re just too lazy/busy/inefficient/think machines are cool. (I am all of the above)

  14. MD says:

    Man, this is excellent. The enterprise did look a bit crap, but the companion cubes were fine. And the 3D printer within minecraft? So wonderful. This is my idea of games as art.

  15. Malibu Stacey says:

    Freeman Dyson’s dream will finally come to fruition.

  16. Stuart Walton says:

    What happens if they try to print the Minecraft 3D printer with the real world printer?

    • yamnivek says:

      It ends. IT ALL ENDS!

    • apa says:

      There: we’d have self-replicating machines, now all that’s missing is a good old insane AI!

      I, for one, welcome our new blocky overlords!

    • Bret says:

      Look at you, hacker. A pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run through my corridors.

  17. tims says:

    That last youtube link:

    “Unfortunately, this SME-music-content is not available in Germany because GEMA has not granted the respective music publishing rights.
    Sorry about that.”

    Fucking GEMA.

  18. ResonanceCascade says:

    It’s really amazing to me how much creative stuff has come out of this game. I can’t get into it to save my life, buy I love looking at all these cool projects.

  19. jyro says:

    Try this Starship enterprise model instead: link to

  20. Ian says:

    Cool, they should try adding the possibility to print small metal wires to use as redstone, and some sort of small batteries for torches.

  21. AliceTaylor says:

    Hah. The assimilation begins!