Dec 11, 2015 | By Alec

It’s early December, and we’re only days away from the biggest event in everyone’s calendar. And no, we’re not talking about Christmas – the new Star Wars Movie, The Force Awakens will be released next week. While most of the movie has been shrouded in lawyer-protected mystery aside from a few clever marketing campaigns surrounding ball droid BB-8, long-time Star Wars actor Anthony Daniels has just revealed that a 3D printer was used on site during filming.

Anthony Daniels should know, because he was the one benefitting from the technology as his C-3PO suit was made with a 3D printer. The 69-year-old British actor has played the iconic golden C-3PO droid throughout the existence of the Star Wars movie franchise, and has also voiced numerous incarnations of the robot – TV specials, theme park rides, video games and so on. He is thus an integral part of the Star Wars franchise, and has personally played the droid in each movie – and now again in the upcoming The Force Awakens.

For the eager Star Wars fans out there, he has also talked to the media about his experiences quite a bit. While he couldn’t say a lot about the movie itself for contractual reasons, in a number of interviews he has talked about the suit and the C-3PO experience. At a preview of a new Star Wars exhibit at Times Square, he told Yahoo Movies about becoming the droid again. ‘It’s just like old times. He never leaves my side, because I’m doing a lot of cartoon stuff — not that I wear the costume for that. But he’s constantly with me, and I’m really pretty glad about it,’ he said of the experience.

In fact, director J.J. Abrahams did offer to let another actor wear the suit and just let Daniels do the talking. ‘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,’ he reveals. ‘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.’

The 3D printed suit being put on.

Taking the 3D printing option actually proved to vastly improve the filming experience, as deserts are prominent in the movie. ‘The thing about deserts is that the sand is gruesome. You get sand in any of these [costume hinges] and it makes a terrible grinding sound. But Threepio reflects the heat. I also still see only through little peepholes,’ he reveals. But as he said in another interview with MTV, this time around alternations are easily made with the 3D printer on-site. ‘The biggest thing is that it’s 3-D printed, which allows you to prototype very easily. You can try it and if it doesn’t work, not a big deal to try it again. There’s fixings that would take half an hour to put the head together, and now it takes eight seconds. I love it,’ he says.

The original suit.

This is a vast improvement, for the original suit was nightmarish. Consisting of 30 pounds of plastic and fiberglass, it was hellish to wear and took two hours to put on and take off. What’s more, it was expensive – the suit worn for Return of the Jedi cost $300,000. The in-house 3D printed alternative was easy to make, and if a piece so much an alternative is 3D printed immediately and installed, he told Boris Kachka of the Vulture.

Many fans were relieved to learn that Abrahams relied on as little CGI effects as possible when shooting the widely anticipated movie, but it’s also good to know that this doesn’t mean that actors such as Daniels need to relive that arduous experience from the original movies. But of course this does mean that we can expect to see fan-made 3D printed C-3PO suits in the very near future. Perhaps a fun project to work on over the Christmas break?



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Simon wrote at 1/15/2016 5:50:13 AM:

The suit looked cheap in The Force Awakens. Dissapointing. Looked like plastick, while the suit looked authentic in the original trilogy.

All Thing 3D wrote at 12/12/2015 9:35:19 AM:

As usual Alec, great little piece. Thanks!

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