Jan 30, 2016 | By Alec

3D printers have been increasingly making a name for themselves in the cosplay world as a fantastic prop manufacturer. And that’s hardly surprising, as even a few basic 3D printed accessories can really complete a costume. If you’re looking for some inspiration for your next project, why not consider someone from the Halo videogame franchise? For Adafruit’s Ruiz Brothers, who have built up a reputation for excellent cosplay accessories packed with LEDs, have just shared their designs for a mind-blowing 3D printed Energy Sword complete with amazing and programmable lighting effects.

The Energy Sword, of course, is one of the coolest weapons in the entire Halo franchise. Consisting of a curved hilt that supposedly projects two partially ionized plasma blades, made from free moving electron based gas held in the handle, this Covenant weapon can be truly devastating. How many multiplayer games have been won by the first guy to find an Energy Sword? And with the help of the Ruiz Brothers’ latest project, you can now take it any con you like.

What’s more, this project is also actually quite doable – for Adafruit terms at least. Aside from the 3D printed body, this project largely revolves around NeoPixel LED strips connected to an Adafruit Feather BLE 32u4 micro-controller. The Feather is one of Adafruit’s latest products, and is an extremely thin and light micro-controller. “our take on an ‘all-in-one’ Arduino-compatible + Bluetooth Low Energy with built in USB and battery charging,” they say. Combined with a JTS Extension, a slide switch and 2000mAh lipo battery that is rechargeable through USB, you need very little for a very effective and lightweight 34in tall Energy Sword (weighing less than a pound).

In short, this is a perfect cosplay project for those looking to bring some original Halo atmosphere to an event. It is also very cleverly designed in Fusion 360,with the blade falling apart in just a few 3D printable pieces. Both the handle and blades are very thin, minimizing the amount of filament needed. The circuit is mounted in the handle, connecting to the LED strips in the blades, and everything is connectable to USB without having to open the sword up.

If you’re interested, head over to the Adafruit 3D printed Energy Sword project page to download to necessary STL files. You can, of course, modify them in CAD software if you want. In total, it consists of twenty main pieces – with sixteen for the blades that all snap together and can be glued together, along with the remaining parts. The Ruiz Brothers recommend using PLA for 3D printing to reduce the chance of warping, though you can obviously use ABS, PET, Nylon, or other materials if you prefer. Use all the settings listed on the project page for optimal slicing. 3D printing took place at 230 degrees, with 50mm/s print speed and supports for the handles, and took about six hours for all the parts. If you want, you can optimize smoothness by choosing a higher resolution.

Things only get slightly difficult when assembling the circuit and the electronics, but even then it’s just a matter of following the precise steps of the Ruiz Brothers. To use the proper code for the LEDs, you will need to use the latest version of the Arduino IDE (1.6.5).

Assembly itself is also fairly straightforward. Place the strips of Neopixel LEDs into the blades, with the LEDs aimed towards the center of the blade. “A 1 meter long strip should have three NeoPixel left over once you layout the strip inside the blade. Use flush cutters or scissors to cut off the extra NeoPixels,” they explain. “To properly fit the strips inside the blade, we'll need to remove the silicone cover by cutting off one of the Neopixels along the copper pads.” The strips can be secured with glue or gaffers tape.

Once they’re in place, you can start gluing the blade together using E6000 glue. “Start by sanding the edges of the blades to ensure they line up flat together. Apply super glue to the one of the edges and then hold both pieces until they hold together. After both side are dry, glue the next part of the blade together until all of the pieces are attached,” the Ruiz brothers explain. And though the temptation will be tremendous, but be sure to let the glue dry before you start swinging the Energy Blade around. As you can see in the clip below, it will be well worth the wait.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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