Are 3D Printed Costumes Feasible?

3D Printable Model of Stormtrooper First Order Costume Armor from Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens Full Body Armor Suit

3D Printable Model of Stormtrooper First Order Costume Armor from Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens Full Body Armor Suit

A 3D model repository seems to specialize in 3D printed costume items, but is this really feasible?

With the advent of inexpensive desktop 3D printers many had the idea of quickly 3D printing their own Iron Man suit or similar featured costume. But those notions quickly died away when people realized they had to provide an accurate 3D model of what they wanted before it could be produced. 

As well, earlier desktop 3D printers often did not have the required build volume to, say, produce a one-piece helmet. You had to chop the 3D model into pieces, print each, and assemble the whole lot together. 

Printing long running 3D models also raises the possibility of print failure, as the longer a machine runs, the more likelihood of something going very wrong. 

But today’s desktop 3D printers have somewhat overcome both of those barriers, being a lot more reliable and in many cases having larger build volumes. 

However, there’s still that problem of having the right 3D model to print. 

Most people simply don’t have the training, software or hardware to design the required 3D models, so it’s left to others to do so. If you’re lucky, you might bump into what you’re seeking on one of the many online 3D model repositories. Sometimes they are even in 3D printable form, rather than simply for visual use. 

You can search high and low through dozens of repositories and meta-search services and may still not find what you wish. 

One big barrier to using desired 3D models is that the character owner, usually a Hollywood studio, has not made available a 3D printable version. There have been very few such 3D models offered legally by the studios, I think because they fundamentally don’t understand this type of market and thus don’t see a suitable financial opportunity. 

But that doesn’t seem to stop others from producing replica 3D models designed by enthusiasts and offered on some 3D model repositories. In some cases a 3D model of a popular character is detected by the industry, who then presents take-down orders to the publisher. 

It’s a frustrating experience for those seeking such 3D models. They often aren’t offered by the studio, and the use of third party versions may not be exactly legal. 

Nevertheless, you can find character items in some repositories from time to time. I’ve been tipped to one site that seems to specialize in character 3D models: Do3D.com, which contains models in the following categories: 

  • 3D Printable Armor / Suit
  • 3D printable Cars Vehicles
  • 3D Printable Helmets
  • 3D Printable Toys
  • 3D Printable Weapons / Props
  • Other Printables (Forearm, Hand, Abs, ETC)
A Star Wars stormtrooper 3D model available at Do3D

A Star Wars stormtrooper 3D model available at Do3D

This seems to be the place for 3D printable costume material with that list of categories. As of this writing, the site seems to offer over 300 such printable 3D models, including items from: 

  • G.I. Joe
  • Robocop
  • Spiderman
  • Batman
  • Power Rangers
  • Star Wars
  • Iron Man
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Overwatch
  • WarCraft
  • And many more.

The model quality appears to be pretty good, and apparently are produced in house by Do3D, who say: 

We are a team of professional 3D modelers with 15 + years of experience. We have been a secret weapon to world’s most famous/renowned prop makers and have been helping them improve their artwork quality, speed up the process, and reduce the production cost. Countless number of hobbyists and individuals were also introduced to 3D printing industry and received tremendous amount of benefits through Do3D. 

And:

3D printing your own Halloween costumes at home is not a far dream anymore. It’s already happening and possible with us. Our awesome production-ready 3D designs have already helped many people make a decision on buying their very first 3D printers for costumes, toys, action figures and more. 

Two things are unclear to me. 

One is the pricing. At Do3D you must email them directly to obtain a price quote for each and every 3D model presented. This is quite unusual, as most repositories post specific pricing per item, making purchase decisions easy. Do3D’s unusual approach allows them to change pricing anytime they wish, or even negotiate a price with you, which suggests pricing is going to be more than a few dollars per model. 

The other item that is unclear is whether Do3D has licensed the rights to these characters from the rights holder. There doesn’t  seem to be any official indication of such, so if I were Do3D, I would definitely say so, or I’d be wary of a visit from some lawyers. 

Meanwhile, Do3D does offer a large selection of interesting costume material. 

Via Do3D

General Fabb

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has been writing Fabbaloo posts since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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