Oct. 1, 2014 | By Alec

3D printing technology is being used by countless enthusiasts around the world to make tributes to their favorite shows or video games, but one Redditor going by the name of Talaaya has done something that's in a completely different league all together. Over the course of almost two years, this fiercely dedicated fan created a wearable and extremely cool Samus Aran suit, based on the very popular game franchise Metroid Series.

Work on this ambitious project began as early as January 2012, but its gargantuan proportions soon began swallowing up countless hours of work, and it was only finished in September 2014. Talaaya had hoped to be able to wear the suit to Penny Arcade Expo 2013, but she quickly realized that wasn't possible. To her credit, she continued laboring on this wonderful project, and the dazzling results are now here for all to see.

As she explained ambitiously and hopefully in a blog in January 2012, 'I love making stuff. Especially challenging stuff. Nothing gets more challenging than making the Varia Suit that Samus wears in the Metroid game series. I've been craving this project for a long, long time now, and I've finally obtained the means and motivation to get down and do it. Samus is one of my favorite video game characters ever and making this suit will be a big challenge, but when it's all done it will be epic.'

The design it was based on.

And epic it certainly is. When Talaaya first began planning the design and construction processes, she looked into various materials to create her power suit. At first, she settled on pepakura, a construction method that relies on folding think, heavy cardstock paper to create shapes, but it's almost impossible to create even remotely smooth surfaces with it.

The pepakura helmet and the 3D printed replacement.

Fortunately for her – and for us – 3D printing suddenly became a viable option just as she began with the construction phase itself. As she explained on her blog:

Right as I was about to get into it, a good friend of mine, Mathhew Serle, told me he had just purchased a couple of Zcorp 450 3D printers. I couldn't believe my ears. I had briefly looked into 3D printing a while before this and discovered how ridiculously overpriced it is to get things printed from a company like Shapeways, so I had ruled it out. But my friend is only charging me cost of materials (still quite expensive, but totally worth it for all the effort saved and the ridiculous accuracy)!

Throughout the printing process, Talaaya still used pepakura folding in a trial-and-error method to establish the necessary shapes and sized to make the suit actually fit, however. This way, she could do her best to keep printing costs as low as possible – the entire suit itself was already consuming a lot of material. But the many advantages of 3D printing definitely helped her reach the final results:

The advantages of 3D printing are astounding. First off, there's accuracy; you can't get any more exact than getting a one to one copy of a 3D model (assuming your model is accurate as well). Then there's the fact that it's fast and easy compared to all the work and fine tuning you have to do with manual creation (do not take this to mean that 3D printing requires no hard work at all. The few disadvantages are cost and possible difficulty.

Using this Zcorp 450 3D printer – which is an industrial strength machine – Talaaya printed the dozens of individual pieces separately, and fitting these to a duct tape mannequin of her body type. All parts were based on a 3D Maya rendering of the suit she wanted, and while she did not state it, these doubtlessly needed to be converted to STL files first.

The 3D printer used to create this impressive suit.

Unsurprisingly, she was very pleased with the results of the 3D printer. 'The print turned out to be amazing! There's no way I could have gotten close to this crispness, smoothness, accuracy and symmetry if I had done the pepakura method that I had been planning on doing.'

All parts, however, required extensive sanding and polishing. As this was very time consuming, she uses a sanding power tool to make her life much easier, though it still took hours and hours.

Various parts during production.

As various parts needed minor alterations or some support to maintain the correct shape, she also extensively worked with Worbla. This is a type of thermoplastic that comes in sheets and can be easily molded into various shapes. It's also light-weight and very easy to attach to just about everything. All this obviously makes it a wonderful addition to any cosplaying outfit involving plastic, and really complements the 3D printed framework.

After all this extensive and exhausting printing, sanding, polishing, adjusting and assembling – no wonder it took so long – Talaaya painted the whole thing with a meticulously chosen copper paint and added Light Stripes (rather than a whole LED set-up) to the limbs to complete this wonderful suit.

While it took a tremendous investment of time, energy, money and perseverance, the results speak for themselves. This 3D printed Samus suit is one of the finest and most beautiful 3D printing projects we've ever seen. And a wonderful tribute to the game franchise. Bravo!

For a full report of this hugely inspiring project, check out her thread on the RPF Forum or her own blog.

Check out these videos of Talaaya actually wearing the suit:

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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Brenon wrote at 8/2/2015 6:58:27 AM:

talaaya you rock. I want to do a real life one though but not just for cosplay I will have to raise my consciousness and invest in nanotech

Fabian wrote at 6/8/2015 1:20:48 PM:

Nice..the costume and the girl!!

Eric wrote at 10/2/2014 7:23:14 AM:

Wow!! Pretty cool guys.

slo 3D creators wrote at 10/2/2014 4:44:03 AM:

This is AWESOME!

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