If you're looking for an excuse to buy a 3D printer, how about the ability to print your own RoboCop? 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys has revealed that its tech was used to produce RoboCop's suit in the new movie. The Objet Connex 3D was used to create both the master mold pattern and final parts.
Stratasys is no stranger to Gizmag. We've featured the company numerous times over the past few years, most recently for its roles in producing a blood recycling machine and for creating the world's first color multi-material 3D printer. Significant though those stories were, this is perhaps the company's most high-profile.
Hollywood special effects company Legacy Effects was tasked with producing the RoboCop suit based on computer designs. Legacy used the Objet Connex 3D to mold patterns for each part of the suit, such as the helmet and the boots, from which variants could be made as per the requirements of each scene. In other instances, parts were printed directly and, on occasion, comprised up to 90 percent of the final on-screen costume.
Stratasys uses the iconic visor as one example of a part that was directly printed. The dark, transparent visor with its striking red stripe was printed in one section using Stratasys transparent printing materials. Legacy Effects lead design engineer Jason Lopes, meanwhile, says in a press release that the chest armor used by RobCop is arguably the best example of how 3D printing can benefit the production process.
"First, in terms of the size of RoboCop's chest piece specifically, only Stratasys' 3D printing technology would allow us to print something at the actual size; the part virtually fills the entire build-tray," explains Lopes. "Second, the same part comprises a blend of smooth areas, as well as other areas that feature an extremely high level of detail, such as the police badge and other logos, which we needed to retain for the molding process. There isn't a technology currently available beyond that provided by Stratasys that affords us this level of intricate detail, together with the hard surface modeling of the shells all together in one print."
In addition to benefiting from the size and detail capabilities of the Stratasys printer, Lopes says that 3D printing in general has helped to speed up the prototyping and production processes. Parts are now much easier to test and produce than previously.
"Doing everything by hand meant that we couldn't run tests as it would have taken forever," says Lopes. "Also, 3D printing allows us to work in symmetry, which enables us to build an entire left side of a suit, then mirror it and output the right side as well, all from one file with the click of a button. You can't do that by hand."