Jan 28, 2015 | By Simon

As cosplay - a sort of “performance art” where cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to become popular characters (particularly at expos)  - becomes more popular with a wider amount of users, the methods of fabricating the costumes has also become more localized with many resorting to 3D printing to create complex costume components...many of which are mechanical and highly-detailed.  Ultimately, rather than having to resort to expensive tooling or moldmaking, 3D printing easily enables the cosplayers to create their own custom one-off (and usually highly-detailed) parts for much cheaper and quicker than nearly any other manufacturing method.    

Among those who create these cosplay costumes is James Bruton, a sci-fi and superhero fan who uses his Lulzbot TAZ dual-extruder 3D printer to create some very complex costumes ranging from an Iron Man suit to Android bipedal legs and even Star Wars replica parts.  In his free time, Bruton helps run the Southampton Makerspace and shares his builds on his website XRobots.  While he builds his complicated costumes using a variety of material types ranging from wood to plastic, the majority of the 3D printed parts used in his designs consist of ABS plastic and Ninjaflex.   

More recently however, Bruton has been highlighting the build process for an Iron Man Hulkbuster suit... which includes a very-detailed build process starting with the concept sketches and working through in-depth explanations of various components of the costume.  While the larger parts of the build structure are made out of wood, the majority of the finer detail elements including mechanical hands are all made using his trusty Lulzbot TAZ 3D printer:  

Starting with Autodesk’s free 123D Design, Bruton begins his process by creating a rough sketch of what how he envisions the final build turning out.  His goals for the build include a suit that is both free-standing and self-supporting, heavily mechanised with lots of electronics and 3D printed mechanical parts, inspired by Iron Man but mostly his design, high visual details and the ability to be disassembled for transport.

On his website, Bruton states that building a suit that actually opens up and allows for a user to climb inside of it requires a complicated mechanical assembly.  Using this concept of a highly-mechanized aesthetic appearance, Bruton’s approach to sketching the suit revolved around ensuring that all of the joints lock in place for climbing into the suit similar to how he would expect an actual suit to perform in real life for a superhero.  Additionally, other factors such as height, and individual support for each of the components were considered to ensure that the final design was both realistic in appearance as well as comfortable for the wearer.

As for the electronics that Bruton has determined to include in the build include its own Wi-Fi hotspot, the ability to control various parts of the suit using a smartphone, a joystick control and electronic switches for controlling hand movements and finally, a wireless link to control the features of his existing Iron Man helmet.   

While the entire build is highly-involved and still in progress, Bruton has broken each of the existing sub-assemblies into individual steps on their own individual project pages.  So far, these consist of concept design, frame building, hand design and fabrication, forearms, arms and shoulders, shoulders and biceps, rear gullwing doors, unibeam and arc reactor unit, chest plate, helmet, suit proportions and framing the legs...with more steps to come.  

To give you a good idea of where Bruton is at with the rest of the Hulkbuster project, here is his latest YouTube video (published last week) where he goes in-depth about creating his 3D printed frame for the costume's torso and legs:

To read the progress of the build in-full, be sure to both head over to Bruton’s XRobot Iron Man Hulkbuster build index page as well as the video progress that he has been tracking on his YouTube channel.  Additionally, you can help support Bruton's ongoing project build-sharing efforts over on his Patreon crowdfunding page.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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