Initially, I'll have to say that 3d-printing for the construction of a single puppet head (or other parts) is not faster, cheaper or simpler than any other construction method.
One big advantage of 3d-printing is that you can recreate a 3d-printed part again and again - this makes it much easier to try new things (without having the worry about breaking something that cannot be replaced) and it makes repairs very simple. I bought the 3d-printer to have more spare time - the printer can do the work while I do something else - so far that worked very well.
I have made many printable 3d-models for puppet and costume head bases. Most of my models are dual-use - depending on how large they are printed (16-18cm wide is the size for a puppet head - 26-30cm wide for a costume head). Apart from that, I made models for teeth, noses, ears, movable eyelids, etc. My models are on Thingiverse.com - https://www.thingiverse.com/Tioh/designs - free to use for non-commercial purposes. You can change the size as you like. Update: I copied my models to https://www.printables.com/social/192044-tioh/models (Thingiverse has too many bugs lately).
Some examples of 3d-models that I made for 3d-printing (the photo in the middle is a 3d-printed costume head base with felt ears attached).
I use this handle to push or pull on two Bowden cable - this controls the eyelids or ears of my hand-puppets - simple cable animatronics. The springs keep the cable in a neutral position when I do not use it. It took only around 5 minutes to assemble these parts, instead of 1.5 hours with the old models.
You need two 10cm long, 4mm diameter steel or messing rods, four springs (you have to find some springs that are easy enough to compress, but powerful enough to return to the default position), and two screw nipples with up to 6.7mm diameter. The springs that I used are 45mm and 20mm long - 8mm diameter).
By Shawn on Jun 16, 2020, 7:01 AM
Pretty cool Tioh. Looks simple enough. Did a search to see where a person could get screw nipples. Have to say it came up with some interesting results. If others are looking try using "phillips head brake cable screw nipple" . That should get you the correct results.
Your work is so cool. My son uses a lot of 3D printers in his work and he is always looking for things for beginners to print to learn the process. I am hoping they will "practise" on some of your plans and make me some puppet parts if I pay for the materials. Business mascot is shark, maybe I could make them a baby shark puppet with big teeth.
By Tioh on Sep 4, 2021, 10:02 AM
I made some new 3d-printable puppet parts - with flexible materials like TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane). Here are some examples:
Flexible slipper for a muppet:
4-fingered puppet hand:
Flexible canine teeth:
Flexible puppet eye:
By Tioh on Sep 4, 2021, 10:10 AM
Here's an update on my 3d-printed canine puppet head base: the controls for the Bowden cables (that are connected to the eyelids, eyebrows, and ears) are attached and they make it easy to operate the features with one hand.
By Shawn on Sep 5, 2021, 6:44 AM
Thanks for the updates!
By Tioh on Feb 11, 2022, 2:19 PM
I released the files for this 3d-printed hand-puppet head, You can download the STL files at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5222543 or alternatively at https://www.prusaprinters.org/prints/126203-puppet-head-base-version-83-fantasy-crow I included an updated version of the base plate that holds the eyes - already adjusted for this head.
And I made a new version of my old fox head: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5137347 The eye base plate for the bird does fit in this head too.