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RoboCop helmet visor including striking red strip designed by Legacy Effects created on Objet Connex Multi-material 3D Printer using VeroClear material.
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RoboCop suit and helmet designed and produced by Legacy Effects using Stratasys Objet Connex multi-material 3D printing.
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RoboCop’s chest piece includes areas that feature extremely high levels of detail - something only achievable with Stratasys’ PolyJet 3D printing technology, says Legacy Effects.
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How Legacy Effects Created the RoboCop Suit Using Stratasys 3D Printing
Stratasys' multi-colour, multi-material Objet Connex 3D printing system has been integral to bringing RoboCop's suit, designed by Legacy Effects, to life.
The leading manufacturer of additive manufacturing systems has revealed that the machine - first launched in January of this year - has played a crucial part in producing the famous, fictitious law-enforcer's armour for this year's summer blockbuster.
Legacy Effects, the special effects company behind fantastical features such as Avatar, Pacific Rim and Ironman, was initially tasked with designing the new-look, ultra-sleek RoboCop suit for the new Hollywood film. Legacy Effects has long been a fan of Stratasys additive manufacturing technology, using it in previous projects, so the Objet Connex multi-material 3D printer was the obvious choice. In the end, the system produced every aspect of RoboCop's suit, from the boots up to the helmet, for the master mould patterns. These pieces were then moulded and cast into other materials to create variants of the suit depending on the requirements of the scene.
For some scenes, however, as much as 90 per cent of the suit was made up of actual 3D-printed parts, for example, the visor that forms part of the helmet on RoboCop's black suit was 3D-printed using Stratasys VeroClear material.
Lead Designer at Legacy Effects and RAPID 2014 keynote speaker Jason Lopes explained: "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.
"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 moulding 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 modelling of the shells all together in one print.”
As well as creating the RoboCop suit, Legacy Effects also utilised Stratasys 3D printing technology to produce the master moulds and prototype parts for the 'Exo-Suit' featured in the film. These fully-functional prototype pieces feature spring-operated fingers printed in a single build.
The time-saving aspect of using Stratasys technology was one of the big benefits of choosing 3D printing over traditional methods. Lopes explained that if everything was to be made by hand, the team could not run tests without going over their deadlines. Moreover, 3D printing allowed the team to work symmetrically, enabling the left side of the suit mirrored to produce the right with the click of a button - "you can't do that by hand".
Lopes - whose presentation at TCT's inaugural 3D printing conference track at International CES this year was standing room only - believes 3D printing's capability of speeding up processes and allowing designers to make quick, last-minute changes has revolutionised how Legacy Effects operates. Now, more than ever with the repercussions of the economic downturn still echoing through studio budgets, production teams have to work to shorter deadlines to meet the expectations of the cinema-goer.
"This is where 3D printing comes to the fore by meeting such pressures head on," Lopes said. "If we see something’s not working, or we're asked to make a design change, we can make another iteration, go to an open 3D printer and be printing two simultaneous tests within an hour. We go to lunch, come back and it’s done. It doesn't get better than that!"
Director of Marketing for Stratasys North America Bruce Bradshaw added his voice to Lopes' chorus. He remarked that the way Legacy Effects uses multi-material 3D printing shows how the technology is becoming more integral to film production.
"The ability to rapidly 3D print all materials together in one single print run," he said, "meets the film industry prerequisite to save time and money. But the real show-stealer is Stratasys' ultra-fine 16 micron-layer 3D printing. In the special effects world, fine detail and true-to-life models and parts are the industry standard and our Connex multi-material 3D printing technology continues to be a top performer among designers and engineers."