Print Your Very Own 3D Paul!

Print Your Very Own 3D Paul!
17 March 2015

We spend as much time as possible in our lab coats, stroking our chins and pacing the office thinking up new and fun things to do with Paul here at Sometimes these ideas happen very quickly, and others can take several months, even years until the perfect opportunity presents itself.

One of the technologies we've been excited by in recent years is 3D printing, named by some as the 'Third Industrial Revolution'. The thinking here is that in the coming years we will all begin to see 3D printed objects appearing in our daily lives creating items such as machine parts, bone and limb replacements, clothing and even food. It is no overstatement to say the possibilities are pretty much endless!

So as soon as we heard that Paul had been scanned in 3D for his innovative 'Hope For The Future' music video, we asked if we could get hold of the file.

From this scan of Paul we were able to turn him into a 3D printable figure.

Some of you may already have seen photos of the figure. Paul had them with him whilst doing press for the 'Hope For The Future' single in November, and we teased them in the December newsletter.

We're really excited to say the file is now available to any fan who wishes to try making their own!

We found this video online of US President Barack Obama being 3D scanned and printed for The Smithsonian Museum in Washington that will hopefully give you a good overview of how the technology works:

If you'd like to get your own 3D Paul printed off, you have two options: either find a local or online printing company who can make it for you; or, if you have access to a 3D printer, you can try printing your own! For those of you looking to try it themselves, we have put together a guide below with the help of our friend Nate Petre at

Here's a time-lapse video of the process:

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Post by Paul McCartney.

If you'd like to make your own 3D Paul, download the .stl file of Paul by clicking HERE! [Please note, this file is around 50MB in size]

And remember, if you do print off your own Paul 3D figure, be sure to let us know! Post your photos on your social media of choice using the hashtag #HopeForTheFuture or in the comments below.


By Nate Petre at

3D Printing represents a fast and exciting new way of making things that has changed the way that professionals and hobbyists create. It is also called 'Additive Manufacturing' or 'Rapid Prototyping' but most hobbyists call the process 3D Printing. There are 3D printers that cost as little as £200 and can create anything from simple plastic parts, to industrial machines that cost well over half a million pounds, and even print metal parts for the space missions. Our 3D Printable Paul is designed for the hobbyist user and is optimised for printing on a desktop printer. Feel free, however, to print a life size version if you have a big enough machine.

Overhanging parts, or anything that extends greater than 45 degrees will require support material to be generated. Most 3D printing software will generate the required supports and the algorithms that create those supports are constantly improving. If you watch the time-lapse of the print we’ve done [see above] you can see the supports that are built to hold Paul’s hands; these are a good example of overhangs.

Each printer software will allow you to adjust the machine to optimise your print. One factor of printing in 3D is the number of shells that the user chooses to generate. The more shells generated, typically the stronger the part is but the less detail and versa vice. So if you want the buttons on Paul’s jacket to show up better, limit the number of shells to about 2. If you want to make it a 'Super Paul', increase the shells accordingly.

One way that 3D Printing works is to build a raft out of the material your machine uses and then print your part on top of that. Unlike Tom Sawyer and his adventures on the Mississippi, a raft is something to be avoided. Our design benefits from having its own stand and provided your machine has a very flat and level build plate you will have little trouble printing a copy of Paul for yourself. (In the future designing and printing parts while avoiding the need for rafts will ensure trouble-free printing.)

The last and most important trick in getting the best out of your desktop printer is to make sure the surface you are printing on is level. With many types of desktop printers there are three screws underneath the build platform that allow you to adjust the level. The printers themselves have a method for calibrating the build platform level but I have found that the best way of making sure is to adjust while it’s printing. The file I use most is this one: click HERE! And it’s the Bed_Levelling_2.stl file that I have found ensures that my next build comes out brilliantly.

3D Printers are not perfect machines. Like any tools they require time and patience to calibrate and keep running smoothly. Keep this in mind while you begin to use a 3D printer. Like any tool they are only as good as the user and therefore do not get discouraged. There is a massive global community filled with people that either have had or are having the same problems as you, plus an entire other group that has fixed those problems or is working on a solution. It takes time to become one with your printer, to trust that you can leave it alone overnight and it’ll be okay in the morning and your magic widget will be there waiting for you.

Have fun and get creative!

Nate Petre is a freelance design engineer and PhD candidate at Imperial College London. For more info, check out his website HERE!