I was seriously having problems finding a specific ball joint for my mannequin armature. At first I explored stop-motion animation armature joints. Everyone seemed to be using these double ball joints that were sandwiched between brass and tightened with a screw. I almost went with that type, but I decided I wanted something better. So I explored single ball joints. I was able to find one place that sold a decent one, but with the amount I needed, the price seemed a bit high. Then I contemplated using their design and having the parts machined myself. But then that seemed pricey as well. And I realized the amount of movement in the standard mechanical ball joints was limited.
So I started analyzing how our actual skeleton joints work, and that led me down a completely different path. So I started looking for a new type of ball joint that had a wider range of mobility. And I found it in the 3D printer industry. I was so excited until I tried locating a supplier. The only ones I could find were in China. Hmmm.
I contacted a supplier in China and attempted to get a price quote. The time difference meant our back-and-forth exchange was spanning across several days. In my impatience I eventually developed a method that I thought might work using parts I could obtain in the USA. I did find some Australian suppliers for the same part that China had, but their prices were quite high.
I ordered the parts I needed to attempt building the joints on my own, and the price was low. I needed to keep this armature as light as possible so I changed my design from using metal rods for the bones to carbon fiber. I was making progress. Tonight I got a price quote for the China supplier’s joints and it was an amazingly low price. Same parts the Australians were selling, but I was getting 24 of them for the same price I would get 5 from Australia. I decided to order them as well so that I could compare and decide if my method works better or if using the Chinese joints works better.
Meanwhile since I had measurements from all the new parts I had ordered, I was able to draw up a scale design of the mannequin armature. The finished mannequin is going to be roughly 24 inches tall, and I think that is a great size.