Have you ever looked at a movie prop like a superhero’s emblem or a massive laser gun and while admiring the craftsmanship imagined an artist sitting alone in his dimly lit workshop working the nooks and crannies with a chisel? That might have been accurate thirty years ago but today most costumes, props, and trinkets are made in a different manner, how? Well, in recent films the answer is most probably 3D printing. Ever since 3D printing became accessible to movie studios they have been using it for almost every aspect of the production process. Why bother with CGI rendered clothing and props when you can make the real thing?
A good example of this is the recent summer action blockbuster “Iron Man 2”. The design studio behind the movie’s costumes openly stated that one of the secrets behind Iron Man’s realistic looking armor is that it is not computer rendered animation but an actual suit of armor made out of separate pieces of assembled 3D printed segments. From a rendered 3D model into a tangible object, the process took roughly four hours. After some polishing, a fresh coat of paint and some assembling the suit was ready for filming (see pictures below).
Many studios will now choose to use the 3D printing technology to create items that would, just a few years ago, take weeks to mould, assemble and would still not look as realistic as they should. Now with the printing technology widely available the sky is the limit. The main advantage of this technology is how easy it is to use. Any alterations needed are done on the 3D model and within minutes you can print a new copy of the altered part.
But this isn’t something reserved to movie studios… Have you ever wondered how you would look in Captain America’s helmet or wanted Star War’s Death Star on your bookshelf? All you need is a 3D rendered model and anything is possible.