When it comes to movies, there is not a single film series that has as large of a following as that of Star Wars. The George Lucas created films began their journey into both movie history and the hearts of millions of fans back in 1977, with the first ever Star Wars movie. It was then followed by “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980, and “Return of the Jedi” in 1983. Since then there have been 5 more Star Wars films released.
Today there still remains a huge following of fans, that participate in all sorts of creative activities related to the film. One man by the name of Andrew Radovich, and his wife Katie, have come up with something quite phenomenal with a little help from 3D printing.
It all started back in August of 2010, when Andrew, and Katie decided to take a trip to Orlando Florida and wait in line in hopes of getting to sit in the audience for a much-anticipated interview between Director George Lucus and host Jon Stewart. While they knew having the opportunity to watch the live interview would be an event to remember for the rest of their lives, what they didn’t know was that it was about to change their lives forever.
“We took our place on the already-crowded sidewalk, a few hundred fans already in front of us, yet we were still considered to be in the front of the line,” explained Katie. “We were directly behind two bubbly, gabby blondes who were obviously best friends.”
One of those blondes was a woman named Jenna, who Katie and Andrew would become very fond of, not only for her equal liking of Star Wars, but for her personality and sense of humor as well. “Jenna’s bright personality quickly attracted those immediately around us, we set up our camp and quickly began calling ourselves ‘The Village’,” explained Katie. As the humid Florida night progressed on into morning, we laughed and laughed, creating lasting memories and permanent friendships, and had an amazing time, despite the fact that we were sitting on the sidewalk in the middle of the night.”
After the long wait in line, which lasted until the following morning, Andrew, Katie, Jenna and her friend all ended up getting seats in the Chapin Theater for the much anticipated live interview. Katie ended up forming a quick friendship with Jenna, which far exceeded that of most.
“We ended up spending the rest of the weekend together, reveling in our new friendship, bonding over our love of R2-D2, and becoming somewhat of an attraction in the droid room when we were caught on camera smooching our favorite little astromech,” said Katie.
When the weekend was over, Katie and Jenna said their goodbyes, with promises to meet up again sometime soon. Unfortunately, fate took a turn for the worse. Sadly Jenna ended up passing away not too long after, and Katie was left heartbroken, losing not only one of her best friends, but also a fellow R2-D2 fan.
Andrew and Katie often talked about building their own R2-D2 unit, something that would have certainly garnered the interest of the late Jenna. They decided to begin construction of an R2-D2, but would call it R2-JE in tribute to Jenna “E”.
When Andrew set out to build the R2-JE unit, he had hopes of using 3D printing for much of his work. Unfortunately though, he found it hard to have anyone 3D print the parts he needed for the project. He had tried using a service to create cast resin parts for him, but after six months of waiting, and a bit of failed communication, he ended up cancelling his order. As a member of an R2-D2 builders club, he learned a lot about both 3D printing and the general construction of a R2-D2 unit.
“I finally bit the bullet and bought a Solidoodle3,” Andrew told 3DPrint.com. “The fun really began when it arrived and I experienced what people meant when they said 3D printing has a learning curve. I worked with members of the R2 builders club to develop/test/modify all the detailed parts for R2. That involved learning to 3D model. This process of part development is still ongoing today, though we are finally about finished with all the important stuff.”
Three months into the development of his project, Andrew was asked to give a presentation at an annual R2-D2 convention called “DroidCon”. He had the chance to introduce other builders of the famous astromech droid robot to the incredible technology of 3D printing. A lot of skepticism as to the viability of 3D printing was displayed by the group, however, he was invited back again to give another talk in a subsequent year, and he found that the adoption rate of builders using 3D printing had expanded, while the skepticism had almost vanished.
Andrew has also taken it upon himself to help others that need 3D printed parts for their R2-D2 units. All of this printing has taken quite a toll on his original Solidoodle 3D printer. “I have been approved by the clubs council to be a 3D printed parts supplier,” Andrew told us. “This is a non profit venture where parts are supplied at cost to the group. To date, I have modeled and refined dozens of R2 parts. My once stock Solidoodle 3 is now about 25% original, the rest is upgraded and modified. My friends have actually dubbed it the ‘Frankendoodle’ because of how much I changed on it. I’ve extruded approximately 30kg of filament at $30-$35/kg to date.”
Andrew currently brings his R2-D2 unit to different charity events. His goal is to finish the construction of his unit and regularly tour children’s hospitals, including his local OSF Children’s Hospital in Peoria, Illinois. In September, him and Katie plan on heading over to the East coast of the United States to visit with Jenna’s parents, celebrate her life, and show to them the R2-JE. You will also be able to find the couple and their R2-JE at the big Star Wars convention, “Celebration” in California next year.
A little about Andrew’s R2-JE, which features plenty of 3D printed parts:
- Full scale movie replica
- Lights, sounds, motorized
- Cost to build – $3000
- Time building – 1.5 years so far
- Projector mounted in dome
- Lots of 3D printed parts
- Loved by all
What do you think? Would you ever consider building your own R2-D2? Discuss in the 3D printed R2-D2 forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out some more photos below: