Sep 102012

I am making plastic scale maille.  Scale maille is one variety of pre-firearm protective vestment.  It consists of fish-scale shaped plates linked with rings.  Developing functional 3D printable plastic scales and rings was a long process because I knew only the theory of making scale maille, having never made before it with the commercially available metal supplies.

Starting this project I knew that there were two parts: scale and ring.

The scale needed a hole that was large enough to have up to four rings linking it to adjacent scales, and it needed to be long enough that it would cover the linkages behind it.  Along the way, I also discovered that the scale can’t be too fat, or it will argue with the scale next to it.

The ring needed to hold together two scales securely without taking up too much room. (sounds simple, right?)

I have a repurposed plastic salad container which holds my collection of fail maille.

I designed this project, and all my other 3D modeling-related projects using Blender, a free 3D modeling program.

These first scales are visually attractive, but have holes that are much too small

The rings are too thick or too thin to hold the scales together.


The scales were then altered to be wider and have larger holes. A ring, not too big, thick, or springy was developed, but it held the scales too tightly together; they cannot lay flat.

Rings needed to be much larger, and thinner, but still sturdy

The scales had to be longer to cover the looser ring connections.

Trial and error, tweaking and testing. The larger loop on the scale helped things fit together with a looser ring, but the issue was things staying linked, and not being crowded.


The entire scale needed to be larger to be proportionate with the ring.

In theory, scaling down the proportionate scales with rings together would work, but there were serious stability flaws when that idea became physical. The rings and loops in the smaller size didn’t have enough plastic to serve their purpose.

 Posted by on September 10, 2012

  2 Responses to “Ups and Downs: Positive and Negative Z movement.”

  1. Can you post some more pictures of the assembled pieces? how is your research coming?

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