Mar 20, 2018 | By Tess

3Ders readers will be more than familiar with the work of James Bruton, the founder of XRobots. From his amazing robotic 3D printed BB-8 Droid to his record-breaking 3D printed self-portrait, Bruton is one of the most prolific makers in the 3D printing community.

In this week’s Maker Profile, we’ll be talking to Bruton about his 3D printing and robotics skills and some of his most exciting projects to date.

Based in Southampton, England, Bruton started his website XRobots over a decade ago with the goal of showcasing some of his ongoing electronics and robotics projects. In the mid-2000s, the robotics expert joined the blossoming Youtube maker community with a series of videos about walking androids he was constructing.

It wasn’t until 2013 that Bruton acquired his first 3D printer: the Lulzbot AO-101, which he began using to design components for his robotics and cosplay projects. Nowadays, he is perhaps best known for his 3D printed LEGO projects as well as his sci-fi-inspired makes. (It is no wonder Bruton and fellow maker Matt Denton are well acquainted!)

3Ders: You’re a real veteran in the maker scene, having started XRobots over a decade ago. Can you talk about how you eventually became interested in 3D printing?

James Bruton: I registered the domain in 2004 so at the time most of those parts were handmade. I got my first 3D printer in 2013, and since then the technology has become an important part of my channel. It’s the only way I can get videos out weekly.

3Ders: How has Sci-Fi come to figure prominently in your builds?

James Bruton: Sci-Fi projects have inspired me to bring fictional elements into real life. Not only that, but they allow the viewer to identify with the project in an engaging way.

There are some projects I want to build and some that I think I should build—I try to combine what I want to build with a fictional theme to get people more interested in the overall project and robotics.

3Ders: Which of your 3D printed projects has been the most popular or gained the most attention?

James Bruton: My BB-8 droid is probably the most popular of my 3D printed projects. And my Iron Man suit is the top viewed project, but most of that wasn't made with 3D printing.

3Ders: What was it like 3D printing a giant (even record-breaking!) version of yourself?

James Bruton: It was a lot of 3D printing every day for two months and an ordeal to finally transport. The event at the Winchester Discovery Center where it was displayed was for one day because I had to put on a public event for the Guinness rules.

Currently, the giant 3D printed version of me is in my house as we wait for Guinness to certify the record title… More on that in the next few months.

3Ders: Are LulzBot 3D printers your go-to machines?

James Bruton: Yes, I use LulzBot 3D printers because they sponsor my channel through Patreon. I've never used anything else.

3Ders: Finally, do you have any advice for novice makers who are trying to design their own functional 3D printed projects?

James Bruton: I guess some novices pick it up right away if they have the aptitude—I guess it's the same for being able to draw or paint. It really depends what they're trying to make, most of it comes down to learning CAD I suppose.

Check out some of James Bruton’s 3D printing projects over the years:

In 2014, the maker extraordinaire caught our attention at 3Ders with an amazing 3D printed Steampunk Alien Xenomorph cosplay suit. The meticulously designed Alien-inspired costume was 3D printed using Bruton’s Lulzbot TAZ 3 printer. That same year, we wrote about his large-scale 3D printed Iron Man Hulkbuster suit (above) which was fully mechanized thanks to an intricate electronic and mechanical system devised by the maker.

A big turning point for Bruton’s maker career was the creation of Star Wars-inspired projects, such as a robotic and almost entirely 3D printed R2-D2 droid, as well as his famous BB-8 droids.

The 3D printed and amazingly functional Star Wars droids drew a ton of (fully warranted) attention to Bruton and his makes. For this project, Bruton went through a variety of models—even 3D printing a total of three working BB-8 versions, each one slightly more advanced than the last. Bruton’s third BB-8 was notable for its improved stability (thanks to a second axis and slightly wider dimensions) and an updated remote control system. If you haven’t already watched Bruton’s build process for the incredible 3D printed BB-8 droids, you can check them out on his Youtube channel here.

In 2017, the maker took his projects in a slightly new direction, using 3D printed LEGO as his, well, building blocks. This trend in Bruton’s maker career has seen him 3D print a VR LEGO gun capable of shooting bricks through both the virtual and real worlds, as well as a fully rideable electric skateboard made from 3D printed LEGO. This last project was suitably followed by an Iron Man-inspired 3D printed electric skateboard.

Some of Bruton’s most recent projects have included a potentially record-breaking 3D printed statue of himself, which required over 500 hours of printing, and a 3D printed Hotwheels Drone Racerz, commissioned by his employer Bladez Toyz, that took to the streets at the Hamleys Toy Shop parade in central London this past fall.

In recent weeks, Bruton has been working on a 3D printed Batman cosplay suit, more giant 3D printed body parts, and more. As always, we can’t wait to see what the ingenious maker comes up with next! (If you are itching to learn what he’s working on you can get the inside scoop by supporting his Patreon.)



Posted in Interviews



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