Dec 9, 2016 | By Benedict

James Bruton, the British electronics whiz behind the website XRobots, has used 3D printing to create a trio of functional droids from the Star Wars universe. Bruton recently uploaded a new video of the brilliant 3D printed BB-8, R6 (R2-D2), and GNK in action.

A short time ago on a website far far away, British tinkerer extraordinaire James Bruton published evidence of one of the coolest electronics and 3D printing projects we’ve seen in a while: three 3D printed Star Wars droids—including the beloved BB-8—that look and move around just like their movie counterparts. Some might argue that we hit a saturation point for 3D printed Star Wars stuff when The Force Awakens hit the big screen around a year ago, but this ongoing XRobots project really is a cut above your average 3D printed Yoda head.

If you think you’ve seen this 3D printed version of BB-8 and the gang before, chances are you have.  Bruton introduced the Star Wars 3D printing and electronics project back in December 2015, just as the excitement around Episode VII was really reaching its crescendo, and unveiled the final version of the rolling 3D printed droid in April. Now, however, the trio of functional robots have some miles under their feet/wheels/ball, with Bruton taking them to Star Wars Celebration Europe and various other events.

For those unfamiliar with Bruton’s third-generation 3D printed BB-8 (or who tend to forget the minutiae of old Star Wars 3D printing projects), the 300mm-wide main “ball” section consists of twenty 3D printed parts, each made from ABS on the Lulzbot TAZ desktop 3D printer. (Lulzbot sponsors Bruton and the XRobots project.) Complex electronics aside, almost all of the BB-8 is 3D printed, including its springy guidewheels, which are printed in NinjaFlex TPE filament. Impressively, Bruton created the files for BB-8 from scratch, without using the widely used BB-8 Builder’s Club resources.

While we had a lot of the information about Bruton’s incredible Star Wars project before, the virtuoso maker has now uploaded a video detailing his development process from start to finish. Backed by dramatic music, the seven-minute clip shows the 3D printed BB-8 going down a storm at Celebration Europe, and includes revealing screen captures from the maker’s CAD process, 3D printing on the Lulzbot, and the long and arduous assembly that turned a pile of 3D printed parts into three highly sophisticated droids.

Of course, while BB-8 understandably hogs most of the limelight—both in The Force Awakens and this 3Ders article—Bruton also spent a lot of time perfecting two other recognizable bots from the Star Wars universe: GNK, a power droid that has featured in a number of the Star Wars movies, and R6, a wheeled and two-legged astromech droid from the same robotic family as the R2—yes, that’s the class of the iconic, sassy, and breathtakingly heroic R2-D2.

Has all this Star Wars talk made you want a 3D printed BB-8, GNK, or R6 of your own? Well, while it takes an extremely high level of skill to put together Bruton’s trio of 3D printed droids, the maker has in fact shared all necessary 3D printing files, code, and required parts on his Github page. We would recommend following Bruton’s instructions to the letter, though some ambitious maker-Jedi could try closing their eyes and letting The Force do the work.

For more detailed videos and posts about Bruton’s design and 3D printing process (without the dramatic music), readers can refer to the project directory of the XRobots website.



Posted in Fun with 3D Printing



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