Jul 27, 2016 | By Tess

3D fantasy designer Melissa Ng of Lumecluster has impressed us time and time again with her stunning and inspiring 3D printed jewelry and costume pieces. Earlier this year, the artist drew attention from a wide audience for her beautiful 3D printed Regalia Armor, which was designed for actress and “Queen of the Geeks” Felicia Day. While we thought nothing could top the intricately designed and fierce armor, Melissa Ng seems to have outdone herself again with her most recent creation: a medieval inspired 3D printed women’s Sovereign Armor.

According to the designer, while the response to her Regalia Armor design was overwhelmingly positive, a number of people were critical of the armor’s practicality, as well as how a woman’s armor should look. Taking these discussions into account, Melissa Ng decided that her next project would go deeper into actual armor designs and structures, all the while showing that a woman can wear a practical armor while still looking beautiful and powerful.

The impressive Sovereign Armor, which is made up of 91 individual 3D printed pieces and is embedded with LED lights, is the result of over 500 hours of work, which included in depth research of medieval armors, experimenting with materials and finishing processes, sketching and designing the armor itself, 3D modeling it, testing its 3D printability, sending the pieces to a 3D printer service (Shapeways), and finally completing a wide range of finishing methods.

The Sovereign Armor was created with a very special message behind it, the same message that Melissa Ng has articulated a number of times through her jewelry, masks, and other creations: that of empowering creative souls and minds. She says, “I made this in honor of the creatives out there who know that, even though it’s empowering to be the ruler of your dreams and creations, you also know how incredible lonely the journey can often be.”


The suit, which was inspired primarily by 15th century German Gothic armor, features intricate designs that are meant to evoke waves, and fluting, which is supposed to recall the movement of ripples. The LED lights, which are embedded throughout the armor, create the impression that the person wearing the suit is glowing and emitting an “ethereal energy”.

While the suit itself is absolutely stunning, the work that went into creating it is almost more impressive. As Melissa Ng explains on her blog, it was a long and oftentimes difficult process, though one that certainly paid off! In designing the armor’s structure, the artist was able to stay as close to real designs as possible thanks to the help of armor enthusiast Ian LaSpina (aka Knyght Errant). As she was designing the suit for herself, Melissa also had to take her measurements into account, which she did manually rather than with a 3D scanner. By inputting her measurements into Design Doll, a customizable figure program, she generated her own 3D model on which she could build her suit.

According to the designer, the most difficult part of the process was to then model the base armor, which includes articulated gauntlets, the helmet, and the articulated pieces below the waist. Once the base armor design was complete (a process which reportedly took about 43 hours), Melissa set to work on designing the intricate patterns that would adorn the suit as well as the embossed and subtle structural elements.

The next step was to check and test thicknesses of the digital 3D model to see whether each piece of the suit of armor was actually 3D printable. Once that was done, Melissa sent the files off to 3D printing service Shapeways which additive manufactured each piece from an Elasto plastic. While the pieces were being manufactured, Melissa continued her own work of researching color schemes, paints and other finishing steps for the final post-processing.

The post-processing for the Sovereign Armor was not as simple as just painting the pieces, as Melissa had to first glue a number of pieces together, then seal each component using Liquitex matte varnish. The latter step helped not only to fill in the material’s porous finish, but to help strengthen the flexible material. Melissa then went ahead carefully sanding and smoothing out all the prints using sand paper and her Dremel rotary tool.

Next was the painting process, which involved first painting a thick base coat onto each piece—she used a black Angelus leather paint, and applied 2-3 coats on each component. With the base coat dry, Melissa then airbrushed the armor using a combination of bronze, pewter, silver, and blue/turquoise paints, and then hand painted all of the gold embossed details, which took about 40 hours. She then sealed the paint using a coat of varnish.

The final step before the armor’s assembly was inserting LED lights, and adding padding to a number of the pieces with canvas and foam material. Finally, the armor was assembled using an E6000 glue, and the articulated pieces were connected using canvas strips. The ultimate effect of the assembled armor being worn is truly awe-inspiring for a number of reasons. That is, not only is the Sovereign Armor an incredible 3D printing feat, but it shows other designers and makers, especially female ones, what can be achieved with a simple vision and a lot of determination.

As Melissa Ng concludes, “I believe it’s important to always stay hungry to learn and expand your mind. It’s always a plus to do extra research and develop a better perspective and a more informed design. You’ll be surprised by what you are capable of when you open yourself up to learn beyond your comfort zone.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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mick wrote at 7/28/2016 5:41:25 PM:

How much did she spend for the printing?

Alan Hudson @ Shapeways wrote at 7/28/2016 6:58:41 AM:

The post mentions printing in Elasto Plastic. I suspect it's actually White Strong and Flexible. Not sure the Elasto Plastic would be appropriate for this build.

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