3D Printing In The Film and TV Industry

Hollywood: Where 3D Printed Imaginations Come Alive

This is how 3D printing is affecting the multi-billion dollar industry of Hollywood, where the wildest imaginations come true in special effects. Here are the 3 biggest ways 3D printing is hitting the big screen.

3D Printing Props

Almost all practical effects were made by hand using clay, plaster, foam, chicken wire, fabric, wood, and bits of consumer goods combined in creative ways. Then digital effects took over.

Today, designers are adopting 3D printing to produce many of their props and makeup effects. The reasons? 3D printing is more affordable; doesn’t use many materials – just one is sufficient. 3D printing is faster -just takes a few hours. 3D printing is repeatable – all props, even multiple, can be printed at high quality without them costing more to produce. There’s also durability – 3D printing props are tough enough to survive filming, and easily replaceable if they break. Also, 3D printing produces licensed replicas so that they can be reprinted or resold after being commissioned.

The most printed objects in Hollywood right now are fantasy and sci-fi props. ‘Game of Thrones’ utilized 3D printing with most of its armor, masks, jewelry, and weapons. The props are lightweight and realistic and are more cost-effective than teams of digital effects artists. Examples are the enormous 3D printed dragons in ‘Jurassic Park’, likewise dinosaur remains and species’ skeletons. They have realistic textures, details, even their gender and age. They also 3D scan real fossils to recreate the printed props.

3D Printed Costumes

Costumes are a major part of sci-fi movies like Marvel’s ‘Black Panther.’ Crowns and collars were 3D printed that would have been difficult and time-intensive to stitch or mold. Another is the headdress that actress Angela Bassett in the Queen Ramonda movie. The ‘Iron Man’ armor in multiple movies was 3D printed, scanning the body of Robert Downey Jr. There are also the costumes of ‘Captain America’ and ‘Thor’ using selective laser sintering + carbon fiber reinforced material.

Stop motion 3D Printed Miniatures

These are poseable and customizable dolls required to be precisely placed to move incrementally with each frame, so 3D printing helps create as many variations of facial expressions, props, and characters as possible to make the animation as smooth as possible. Animation studio LAIKA has become famous for their use of 3D printing in their stop motion animated features. 2019 film ‘Missing Link’ currently holds the record at 106,000.

3D Printed Set Design

Production designers can now produce enormous set pieces – overnight. An example is the set design in the space travel biopic ‘First Man’, where a scale replica of the legendary Apollo 11 was built in one go.



Sports Equipment and 3D Printing: Better Performance

Raising the Level of Performance

Imagine what happens when a global IT company partners with a world-class sports brand? Information technology giant, HP is working with Oakley, a California-based sports brand to create 3D printed prototypes and functional parts across Oakley’s portfolio of products.

Oakley Brand

Oakley is a designer, developer and manufacturer of sports performance equipment and lifestyle pieces notably sunglasses. They also produce sports visors, ski/snowboard goggles, watches, apparel, shoes, backpacks, optical frames, and other accessories. They claimed that world-class athletes around the globe depend on Oakley products to compete at the highest level. They are now partnering with HP, with its breakthrough 3D printing technology, to accelerate their design to production timeline, and reconceptualize the way their products are made, pushing the boundaries of sports performance to new heights. Using Multi Jet Fusion, Oakley is reducing the product development stages of its eyewear selection as well as other athletic equipment.

Oakley began integrating 3D printing into its design process in 1992 to create the Eye Jacket sunglasses. Since then additive manufacturing has transformed its development process as well as the silhouette of its sunglasses. As of 2018, the company has been utilizing HP’s Multi Jet Fusion for rapid prototyping across multiple product lines, including sunglasses, helmets, and trophies. It speeds up the design iteration process as designers can fabricate and test color-coordinated parts in a day when it usually takes two to three weeks. Their printer is also capable of producing full-color functional parts while maintaining optimal mechanical properties.

Other Brands and 3D Printing

Other sports equipment companies are incorporating 3D printing to improve athletic performance. There’s Carbon, the Silicon Valley-based start-up behind Digital Light Synthesis partnership with American football equipment provider Riddell to develop customized 3D printed NFL helmet lining. It’s also collaborating with Fizik, a US-based cycling equipment manufacturer, to create a 3D printed bike saddle. GuardLab, a New York-based sports technology brand, also partnered with Bauer Hockey, to launch personalized 3D printed mouthguards.


Accelerating Athletics in Seattle

If you’re into sports and you’ve got something you think will improve your performance in your field, all you have to do is turn to 3D Composites.

The Challenge of Making 3D Printed Body Organs

Liquid-in-Liquid Printing: Meeting the Challenge

While it is true that 3D printing is able to produce tissues and organs for purposes as lab models for study, as drug screens for pharmaceutical products, and as transplant models for thousands of sufferers to prolong and maintain life, there is a single obstacle to a full realization of this good.

Organs like the heart, liver or lung are vascularized, a network of blood supply permeates their inner core and sustains the organ. Hence, in spite of 3D printing advances in organ manufacturing, replicating complicated body parts such as gastric tracts, windpipes, and blood vessels is a major challenge. Vascularized tissues are hard to build up in traditional solid layer-by-layer 3D printing without constructing supporting scaffolding that can later prove impossible to remove.

Researchers and scientists are investigating the problem by looking at liquid support structures. Though that has been experimented before, liquid structures tend to collapse as their surfaces shrink and their matrixes crumple. This time, they intend to replace support structures with liquid, a specially designed fluid matrix into which liquid designs could be injected before the ink is set and the matrix is drained away.

So, the researchers turned to hydrophilic or liquid polymers that create a stable membrane where they meet. They use different polymer combinations: a polyethylene oxide matrix and an ink made of a long carbohydrate molecule called dextran. With an injection nozzle, they pumped their ink into the matrix that can move through the liquid and even suck up and rewrite lines that have already been drawn.

The result was that the liquid structures hold their shape for as long as 10 days before they begin to merge. With the new method, they printed an assortment of complex shapes, like whirls, single and double helices, branched treelike shapes, among others. As soon as the printing is done, the shapes are set by adding polyvinyl alcohol to the inky portion of the structure. The results of their work appeared in Advanced Materials. This means that complex 3D-printed tissues made by including living cells in the ink could soon become a working reality.


3D Printing a hand with e-NABLE

3DC’s Tony Troutman puts together the Raptor Reloaded hand from the eNabling the Future project. E-Nable is a community organization that brings together students, teachers, and 3D-printers around the world to create free 3D-printed hands and arms for those in need.

3D Composites made our first hand using the ABS-M30 FDM print material for the grey hand and wrist and ABS-P430 for the orange connecting pins.

Read about Everett High School doing the Hand Challenge.

Learn more about how you can support the e-NABLE project by visiting enablingthefuture.org

Working with Nasty Jack’s Candy Company

3D Composites visits the Nasty Jack’s Candy factory in Arlington, WA and spoke with Manager Kris Marrinier to see how a 3DC product has helped his business. With an Ultem 1010CG food grade printed funnel the Nasty Jack’s team was able to get a customized part to fit their needs and ease workflow.

Learn more about Nasty Jack’s Candy at: