Oct 19, 2016 | By Alec
Is there anything cooler than 3D printed armor? To us, 3D printed Iron Man or Batman suits easily win any Con we visit, and those creations inspire us to fire up new 3D printing projects immediately. That is, until you learn exactly how much time they take to build. Even this relatively modest 3D printed Iron Man costume was the result of about 14 months of work. While we’d be tempted to cut corners left and right, some makers absolutely love these kinds of gargantuan projects and completely throw themselves on the details. Just look at this fantastic T-60 power armor, which Redditor hirocreations built over a 140-day continuous 3D printing marathon. Easily one of the most impressive 3D printed suits we’ve ever seen.
The power armor itself, of course, is an absolutely iconic suit from the Fallout game franchise, and has safely carried thousands of players through the wastelands of Fallout 4. The game series itself is also hugely popular in the 3D printing community, and over the years we’ve seen 3D printed Pip-Boy wrist computers, 3D printed Fallout weaponry, and even a 3D printed Furious Power Fist. Back in the summer, one fan even built a 3D printed Nuka-Cola vending machine, but this entire T-60 suit definitely takes the cake.
But then few people would dare to accept a 3D printing project of this size. As hirocreations revealed, he had to use over 120 pounds of IC3D PLA filament to build this suit, with the final armor weighing about 85-90 lbs. (the rest going into support material, skirts, and print failures). It was also a trying time for his Monoprice Maker 3D printer, which was used for 80 percent of the build. Late in the process, two Power Spec Ultra also saw action. All in all, hirocreations had a 3D printer running for 140 consecutive days, during which printer belts needed to be replaced twice.
The suit itself was based on files directly ripped from the game, using the Bethesda Archive Extractor, with Blender software being used for smoothing and adding some details that were absent from the extracted models. Netfabb and Meshmixer software was also used during design, though the dedicated creator decided to adapt the T-45b Helmet from Daniel Lilygreen and the Raptor Hand by e-NABLE designs as well – saving some valuable time in the process.
Now if you’ve ever waited way too long for a project to finish, you’ll have learnt that layer height and infill manipulations can really make a difference. Hirocreations therefore opted to 3D print most of the parts at 0.46 mm layer height, with a very light infill (10%) and 3-4 perimeter layers. He further extruded at the relatively high temperature of 230C, which he feels provided a stronger bond. “I use buildtak on some of my printers and GeckoTek (some proprietary film over a steel plate) for others,” he adds.
Once 3D printed, the individual parts were welded (or melted) together at high speeds using a flat soldering iron tip, as the sheer volume of small parts made joints and fixtures an assembly nightmare. Though many of the parts featured very visible, rough layers, these were all sanded down, filled with drywall spackle and subsequently hit with a few coats of primer. This was followed with regular rustoleum paints for that fantastic metallic finish. Some PVC tubing was also used as a mounting frame.
Of course such projects are rarely without their setbacks, and this T-60 armor project took much longer than anticipated – in part due to 3D printers breaking down. All in all, hirocreations had hoped to finish four months earlier. “One of the things that really kept me motivated and moving forward was having a 20 page checklist of every part that needed to be printed or fabricated having the pleasure of checking each line off at the end of every print,” the creator recalls.
The other thing was his sponsorship, as hirocreations was lucky enough to be sponsored by IC3D for most of the filament. “Second thing [that kept me going] was the sponsorship from IC3D printers and the accountability of not letting them down and going back on any promises I made to them,” the maker recalls. Without that backing, this 7+ foot tall suit would’ve cost him around $1,000 in filament, depending on the manufacturer. The suit further includes around $200 in glues, PVC and paints.
But the results are truly impressive, and more than just pretty. So far, several parts have already received some very hard knocks, but everything is holding on very well – durable enough for a Con or two. If you happen to visit LA Comic Con or Tuscon Comic Con later this year, you might be lucky enough to see this truly extraordinary suit in action.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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