Apr 7, 2016 | By Alec

3D printing is increasingly becoming the go-to technology for all things cosplay. The web is filled with amazing Iron Man suits, while countless costumes at any con are completed with a few 3D printed props – regardless of who you’re cosplaying. But as any hobbyist will tell you, achieving the right final results after printing can be quite challenging. If you’re looking for some tips, here’s some good news: veteran prop artist Michael Ruddy of Hero Complex Props has just revealed some of the key techniques he uses to achieve high quality results on his 3D printed 'Captain Hook' hook.

Michael Ruddy, of course, has previously shared a wide range of amazing 3D printed props through Hero Complex Props. He has previously tacked, among others, this full sized, wearable 3D printed replica of the Avengers Ultron helmet, this Hook prop from the timeless Hook film (1991) with Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffmann, and even this very cool 3D printed bow from the Thief video game franchise.

As he explains to 3ders.org, he is always asked exactly how he finishes those amazing projects. “It's the number one question I always get asked,” he says. For his latest project, another 'Captain Hook' hook prop made for a friend that organizes children’s parties, he therefore decided to reveal exactly how it’s done. The model in question is slightly different from its predecessor, and was simply found and downloaded from MyMiniFactory.com. If you’re interested, this is the 3D printed hook model.

3D printing itself is quite straightforward. The Captain Hook's hook was 3D printed on Michael’s Robo3D R1 Plus 3D printer using Matterhackers filament, at a slightly rough 200 micron layer height. For better effects, he advises 100 microns, but 200 is obviously much quicker. Assembly is done with Krazy Glue.

The real magic begins once the 3D printing is completed and involves various key steps. Firstly, he sprays the print with filler primer, and two or three light coats. The thicker the coat, the longer sanding will take. This is subsequently sanded down, using a wet sanding technique. “It’s very important to wet sand, I think it works 100 percent times better than actual sanding, even if you don’t use filler primer,” he says. Essentially, it requires sanding with wet sand paper. “You just sand away, and it comes off,” he adds.

But to get the best results, a single sanding job won’t cut it. After the first round, Michael adds a thin layer of Bondo Glazing and Spot Putty. “The filler primer fills some of the print lines and imperfections. Then you sand it down, and a lot of it is going to be gone,” he explains. “The glazing spot putty will finish the rest. You go over everything, and wet sand that down. Rinse and repeat. Filler primer, sand it down. Bondo, sand it down.”

Essentially, you repeat the steps about three or four times until you’re happy with the results and can barely see any print lines. Only after that hands-on processing (“It’s a labor of love”, he says) do you move onto painting. While there are some alternative methods for smoothing prints, he feels this gives him far more control over the whole process and minimizes the likelihood of failure.

For painting itself, he actually found inspiration online, as he had no idea how to achieve such a good metal look. Cherry-picking from different techniques, he started out by covering the whole model in a high gloss black paint as the base coat. This was followed by a light coat of hammer black. For the metallic color itself, he had to get hands on again. Spraying a variety of silver and bronze paints onto a rag, this was rubbed onto the prop to create that slightly worn look. “The color of the hook itself is called  silver mirror by ACE HARDWARE,” he adds.

But the results are truly spectacular and would wow crowds at any con. If you’re interested in more of his work, check out his Facebook page Hero Complex Props. For some more inspiration, also take a look at his 3D printing with thatnerdmike YouTube Channel.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Amy Senstad wrote at 4/4/2019 4:57:41 PM:

Hi I am wondering if I can purchase this hook anywhere? Thanks!

. wrote at 7/12/2016 11:45:10 AM:

Yeah its a great model, A friend of mine ordered mine from the facebook page Hero Complex props and its a great model but he charged him £150 only for him to find out a year later alls he did was print it and not actually design it like he thought he did...

Fred Sena wrote at 4/7/2016 9:47:07 PM:

Nice to see the 3D model I made being featured here. Thanks.

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