Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.

The use computer-generated imagery in cinematography traces at least as far back as Steven Lisberger’s TRON (1982). Much like how it has only become increasingly prevalent since, the film industry is increasingly using 3D printing to make props and bring characters to life.

Chris Butler and Sam Fell’s ParaNorman (2012) is a stop-motion animated horror comedy film. In it, 11-year-old Norman Babcock (who can communicate with ghosts) is charged with ending a 300-year-old witch’s curse on the fictional town of Blithe Hallow, Massachusetts, despite his father grounding him. It became the first ever stop-motion animated film to use full-colour 3D printing to create faces for characters; circa 31,000 different objects were 3D printed for 27 different characters, with Norman having about 8,000 different facial expressions. (One 27-second shot needed 250 different faces for a single character.) It was also only the second stop-motion animated film to be shot in stereoscopic 3D, the first being Henry Selick’s Coraline (2009).

J.J. Abrams’s Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) is an epic space-opera set 30 years after Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983). Costume designer Michael Kaplan supervised the creation of the film’s 3D printed props, which included: the Stormtroopers’ helmets, significant parts Captain Phasma’s armour, Kylo Ren’s lightsabre, Rey’s staff and some parts of Anthony Daniels’s C3PO suit. Captain Phasma’s helmet was designed via computer aided design (CAD), 3D printed in nylon and chrome plated. Rey’s staff was wrapped in various pieces of fabric to make it look more well used. A lot of the film’s costumes and props were first shown at the 2015 Star Wars Celebration and 2015 Disney D23 Fan Expo.

Damien Chazelle’s First Man (2018) is a biographical drama that portrays the life of astronaut Neil Armstrong, as well as the space mission that led to him becoming the first person to walk on the moon. During the filming of The Greatest Showman (2017) in autumn 2016, production designer Nathan Crowley came across a 3D printer made by BigRep of Berlin, Germany, which was printing a chair in its then American location of New Lab in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. This prompted him to rent 2 BigRep Ones (as part of an arsenal of 18 3D printers) to make accurate scale replicas of the Apollo 11 lunar module and Saturn V rocket.

Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther (2018) is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Black Panther, who is otherwise known only as T’Challa, is crowned king of the fictional kingdom of Wakanda after his father’s dies; his sovereignty is challenged by an adversary intent on abandoning the kingdom’s isolationism and starting a global revolution. (Here, isolationism can be defined as “a national policy of abstaining from political or economic relations with other countries.”)

Costume designer Ruth Carter collaborated with “designerJulia Koerner and 3D printing company Materialise of Leuven, Belgium to make some 3D printed accessories for Angela Bassett’s Ramonda. Her shoulder mantel was designed to imitate a lace pattern, while also needing to be sufficiently rigid to maintain its shape while Bassett was performing. The geometric pattern on her headdresses could only be designed via CAD, and both the shoulder mantel and the headdresses were made to look like it was impossible for them to have been made by hand. The film won the award for “Best Achievement in Costume Design” at the 2019 Academy Awards.

3D printing is an amazing tool. It can grow your small business or start a mini revolution in an industry. Explore what it can do for you when you contact us today.

Disclaimer: Featured image of “Smithsonian National Museum of American History – Dorothys ruby slippers (8306564635)” is used in accordance with Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. It is attributed to “Kevin Burkett from Philadelphia, Pa., USA,” who does not endorse 3D Rapid Print and does not endorse the use of the image. (No changes have been made to the image.)