3-D models gain traction

Bob Newbury never was a man to play with dolls.

But that all changed when the 84-year-old discovered you could have miniatures of yourself made on a 3-D printer.

Mr Newbury is a member of the Otago Model Engineering Society and has a 3-inch-scale 1906 Burrell traction engine.

Everything about it has been built perfectly to scale. The only thing it is missing is a driver.

Initially, he wanted a model of English television and mechanical engineering personality Fred Dibnah for a driver, but following a worldwide search, he failed to find one.

"I also looked through all the toy shops here, but I don’t think Superman or Spiderman or those sort of things would look right."

After years of searching for anything that would resemble an engine driver, he was forced to consider a Ken doll.

However, wife Pat Newbury (79) said Barbie’s boyfriend would never have worked on the traction engine.

Pat and Bob Newbury with new 3-D models of themselves that go with Mr Newbury’s 3-inch-scale 1906...
Pat and Bob Newbury with new 3-D models of themselves that go with Mr Newbury’s 3-inch-scale 1906 Burrell traction engine. Photos: Peter McIntosh
"He didn’t look like an engineer. He was too pretty - his slicked-back hair and grin and everything."

After seeing a recent Otago Daily Times article about 3-D printing,he thought, "even I’d be better than Barbie’s boyfriend", and he had a 3-D model of himself made at The Lab, in Dunedin.

Mr Newbury was very impressed by the detail.

"The job they did was absolutely magnificent because the detail on the overalls - there’s a wee badge on the front saying Otago Model Engineering Society - you can read that. I’ve got a cap on that has Burrell on it," Mr Newbury said.

As a tribute to the countless hours of support Mrs Newbury contributes to his engineering passion, it was decided to have a model of her made too.

"It’s unbelievable the detail. When we both saw them for the first time, we were both gobsmacked."

Mrs Newbury said it was "surreal" looking down on herself.

"It’s better than a photograph."

Asked if they thought the pint-sized models were better than the originals, Mr Newbury said it did not matter.

"What matters is, the model is now complete."

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