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3D Printing and Star Wars

Hollywood has been using 3D printing for a long time now, from prop design to costume design SFX artists and makeup artists have been developing revolutionary applications for 3D printing. Essentially Hollywood and 3D printing go hand in hand.

A Lot of Hollywood epic movies have been using 3D printing to Enhance and streamline their prop and costume design. From The Lord of the Rings to The Hobbit Trilogy, from Iron Man to Avengers, from the Star Trek reboot to Star Wars : The Force Awakens.

Star Wars is not just a stream of movies. It is a culture, a phenomenon, even a religion for some. It was one of the first science fiction movies to interest everyone, even fans not interested in science fiction movies. It is with this excitement that fans wait with bated breath hanging on to every morsel of news about the filmmaking process and Disney has been more than happy to provide a truckload of information about the making of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Episode 1 to 3(aka the prequels) in spite of being all over the place relied too heavily on digital effects and thus JJ Abrams(Director for The Force Awakens) pointed out that he would use as much of practical effects as he can. Thus came the burden for the design team as they had to work with a lot of costumes and props for people portraying these characters.

It is no surprise that they turned to 3D printing. As was evident when Disney brought a whole lot of movie props at 2015 Star Wars Celebration and the D23 Fan Expo. It is looking at those costumes we realized that many of those costumes would not have been practically possible without 3D Printing.

One of the instances that support the earlier postulate is the hilted red lightsaber used by Kylo Ren. The entire prop is 3D printed and multiple versions of the prop were used for different shots and close ups. The crew decided on 3D printing because a 3D printed prop would be easier and less expensive to reproduce several times.

Another use was made for designing large portions of the shiny stormtrooper armor worn by Captain Phasma (Brienne of Tarth). Her Helmet was 3D printed in Nylon and then was chrome vacuum-plated. The gloves were made of leather and covered in 3D printed pieces which were again chrome plated.

The large staff used by Rey(Daisy Ridley) was 3D printed in several parts and assembled, painted and wrapped in fabric to make it look like a worn and used piece of equipment.

However I’m saving the best for last. Remember C3PO, the golden protocol droid played once again by Anthony Daniels. As anyone who has donned a costume in Hollywood will tell you how cumbersome and annoying the process is, this time around things were different.

“For The Force Awakens, when J.J. Abrams asked me if I would be in it, he said, ‘do you just want to do the voice?’ And I said, ‘I want to be in the costume, but I want it to be faster.’ So what they did was 3D print it. It weighs about the same, I would say, because the plastic is quite heavy, but it allows you to prototype things. So it looks exactly the same, but there are differences to the way it fits together that make it much faster to put on and take off, which is most important. It gets hot in there,” explained Daniels.

3D printing is destined to play a ginormous role in costumes and props for some of the most anticipated films in 2016. Stay tuned for more.

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