Mar. 19, 2015 | By Alec

While most of us are using their desktop 3D printers for fun little printing projects, some of us take things to an entirely different level. People like the British James Bruton of, who has turned desktop 3D printing into an artform and a profession at the same time. James specializes in gorgeous and gigantic 3D printed science fiction projects, from entire cosplay suits to life-sized robots. He recently made the CAD files for his huge and highly detailed R2-D2 robot for free – the ultimate 3D printed tribute to the Star Wars universe.

Many 3D printing enthusiasts will have of James Bruton’s exploits already. Over the years, he has not only perfected desktop 3D printing, but has also developed an excellent sponsoring system for his fantastical projects. As he explained in one video, ‘Some people produce music, comics or art. I produce videos about applied technical creativity, mostly building sci-fi props and cosplays using techniques such as 3D printing and electronics, as well as traditional techniques such as sculpting, molding and casting.’ Previous projects included this intimidating Alien cosplay suit and this gargantuan Hulk-buster Iron Man suit. All of these projects are financed through the patron system provided by, through which fans can pledge one or two dollars per YouTube clip James posts of his latest work. It's a perfect way of getting the content you want and providing a hardworking hobbyist with the funds to continue.

Through this clever system, James has posted more than 130 clips already – from comic book tributes to dr. Who – and upon the completion of every project he shares the 3D printable files through Github for a modest cost-covering fee. One of the ongoing projects James has been working on is his 3D printable R2-D2 droid from Star Wars, which has been inspired by the many handmade builds only – most of which are made of aluminium, steel or wood and weigh up to 100 kg. ‘But what if we could make a droid out of a rigid material that was lighter than plastic!?. Well we can - with 3D printing, because we don't have to make the parts solid. We can use a lower density infill for the parts and build them as low as 10% solid, which makes them 10 times lighter than solid sheet material. Probably 30% realistically,’ James wrote at the time.

The goal of this project has been to 3D print a complete as possible droid, including full mechanics, motors, lights and sounds. ‘I'd also like to leave as much of the skins off as possible so the internal mechanics can be seen. This will be more of a demo & 3D printing showcase project than a movie accurate prop,’ he explained. And as subscribers to his YouTube channel will have seen, progress has been steady with his Lulzbot TAZ 3D printer.

While the robot isn’t quite finished yet, James has decided to release his designs – which have been partly based on previous CAD files made by the R2D2 builders group– already to enable others to tinker with them as well. All of the files have been made using Autodesk software, and James is happy to talk you through that in the video below. ‘So that's where you can get the files from. Please redistribute them, please share them, please modify them and give them away to other people. The only rules are really that they are for non-commercial use. I don’t want to see them on sale on eBay or something silly like that,’ he says in the clip.

However, if you’d like to tackle this project, be sure to watch James’s previous videos as some files have a few errors in them that he has had to previously deal with as well. It’s a perfect project for Star Wars fans and for anyone looking to challenge themselves with something larger than their print bed, so be sure to take a look!



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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