Aug 19, 2016 | By Alec

Around this time last year, the 3D printing community (like the rest of the internet) became infected with a Star Wars fever of epic proportions – coinciding with the build-up to the release of Episode VII near Christmas. As a result we’ve seen numerous amazing 3D prints, especially of BB-8 droids and lightsabers. Especially that latter category was filled with tantalizing projects, including this 3D printed Obi-Wan Lightsaber, several 3D printed Crossguard Lightsabers like this one and even a real burning lightsaber. But 3D printing guru Sean Charlesworth has just unveiled what we believe is the most impressive 3D printed lightsaber ever made, and which will surely help the Sith to finally conquer the galaxy.

Charlesworth works at Tested, the media company of ex-Mythbuster Adam Savage, where 3D printing is regularly used for the most diverse (movie) projects. Charlesworth also regularly shares these creations online. “I recently finished a Ghostbusters’ Ghost Trap I released the files for, and I’ve done other movie and TV props — like my Doctor Who TARDIS kit, which is pretty popular,” he said. “I see those made all the time, and it’s always fun to see what other people will do with things when you release them out into the wild. I often see really cool modifications and think, ‘Wow, I shoulda done that!’”

But the impetuous for this project came from a collaboration with Formlabs (known for their excellent range of SLA 3D printing platforms). “Formlabs just released new formulations of existing resins and some new ones,” Charlesworth said, adding that he really wanted to mess around with them. “They updated the black, which I love because it shows off details very well. They also introduced a new flex, which I was excited about. It’s a dark-grey black, which we used for the hand-grips and the button. It’s pretty firm, […] like a boot heel. We wanted to mix and match a lot of these materials to see what they could do.”

And what could be a cooler than a lightsaber, which is packed with so many different parts and accommodates so many different resins? To ensure that as many different resins as possible were actually used, this particular lightsaber was designed as a kit. “Part of it was to show off different materials, but it also makes it easier to print,” the designer says.

As the hardcore fans immediately noticed, the lightsaber wasn’t actually based on any particular design. Instead, Charlesworth simply sought to build a stylish, bulky and realistic Sith lightsaber that shows how beautiful dark resins can be. “All the standard lightsabers from the movies have been done over and over again, so I wanted to try and do something a little different — which is why I designed my own custom one from scratch,” he told Digital Trends.

What’s more, the maker decided to design his lightsaber using the exact same method that the original prop makers used during the 70s: sticking together old camera parts together. Luckily, Charlesworth also works as a camera repairman and has access to plenty of cool cylindrical components. “I have a box of this cool stuff. I started picking out cool part and put them together until they started resembling a lightsaber, and I wanted something really beefy looking.” These were subsequently duplicated, scaled down or modified through 3D printing to create a lightsaber. As a result, the hilt was actually based on the shell of an old camera motor, an eyepiece mechanism parts and some old lenses. Part of a hard drive also inspired him.

The final model therefore boasts intricate engravings, buttons, a complex grip featuring 36 different rubbery prints and plenty of pointy ends to make it really Sith-like. But coolest of all is that the maker tackled the insides as well, where a cross-section of how a lightsaber ‘might’ work is visible. The rubber button actually lights up a cool red LED and a plastic crystal (crucial for any lightsaber), while a series of other 3D printed components (also based on camera parts) were added to complete the look. “I Just had fun with it, and some of the things I did were just about pushing the Form 2 as far as possible,” the maker says.

It will therefore be unsurprising to hear that this was a huge 3D printing project that took up a lot of time, but the results are extraordinary and totally capture the spirit of Star Wars. If you’re interested, you can grab the 3D printable files on Pinshape here.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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