Feb 9, 2018 | By Tess

As I wait (impatiently) for the release of Marvel’s Black Panther film, I’ve been eagerly gobbling up any news or trivia about the superhero epic that I can. So you can imagine how pleased I was, while perusing a Vogue interview with the film’s costume designer Ruth E Carter, to discover that the film features some 3D printed costume elements.

Carter, who has had a prolific career in Hollywood, working on the film Malcolm X (1992) and the more recent Selma (2014) among many others, had a big job ahead of her in designing and creating of Black Panther’s Africa-inspired costumes. If clips from the movie’s trailer are any indication, however, she has massively pulled it off.

Of course, Carter didn’t work on the film’s costuming all by herself, instead working with a team of over 100 buyers across South Africa, Nigeria, and South Korea, as well as tailors, jewelry makers, and craftspeople in the U.S.

Black Panther, which is set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda, draws from many African traditions in its own mythology. As Carter told Vogue: “I selected things from indigenous tribes and implemented them in a futuristic model. Because the culture that [director] Ryan Coogler created is unique, I could combine elements of many African tribes—including the colour red, the triangle shape, neck rings and beadwork—without worrying about cultural appropriation.”

(Images: Marvel Studios)

And while I wish I could go through every single costume element in the film (they all look amazing), I want to focus on one particular costume prop that was realized with the help of 3D printing.

The piece in question is part of Queen Ramonda’s (played by Angela Bassett) look. Specifically, 3D printing was used to produce the large “shoulder mantle” that the queen wears. “She is the leader of a forward-thinking nation that has greater technology than anywhere else, so her costume had to be grandiose,” explained Carter.

The imposing accessory was reportedly manufactured on a large-format 3D printer owned by a company in Belgium (I’m speculating here, but possibly Materialise?) and was made up of special fibers which were printed into the circular form. The Queen’s crown also required some state-of-the-art technologies to produce, as it needed to be “totally cylindrical.” It’s possible that the same additive manufacturing/weaving technology was used for the headpiece.

Ruth E Carter, costume designer


Though Black Panther arrived too late for this year's Academy Awards, Carter is already generating Oscar buzz for the 2019 season. If she wins, she would become the first woman to win a Best Costume award for a superhero film. According to Vogue, she would also be the first African-American woman to win an Oscar for “the first cinematic depiction of a black superhero.”

Marvel also used 3D printing in the recent Thor: Ragnarok to create Hela’s (Cate Blanchett) villainous headdress.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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