When those early groups of tinkerers, makers and engineers got together all those years ago, building 3D printers was just a hobby that let them make objects that they would never be able to make any other way. At least not without thousands of dollars and a lot of free time. While much of the focus has shifted to other parts of the industry, makers are still using their FDM printers to produce some amazing objects. From rapid prototyping to working firearms to cosplay weapons, desktop 3D printers are still changing the world in new and unexpected ways.
In the past, cosplayers and prop makers only had a few options for making things like replica armor, weapons and guns. Usually it involved sculpting foam and then hardening it with several coats of smelly chemicals, a process that was time consuming, messy and ultimately far beyond the reach of most people. But 3D printers have completely changed the way that prop weapons and costumes are made, and while they still require a lot of work and creativity, the learning curve is much lower and the quality is virtually unmatched.
When Adam Malkowski and his 3D printing services company Fabbdea 3D printing were contacted by a fan of the popular video game Destiny asking about making a replica of an in-game rifle he was thrilled at the opportunity. Most makers love a challenge, and Malkowski’s new client, Jay, was full of them. Not only did he want the rifle to be full-scale, but he wanted working LED lights, real in-game sounds and a magazine that can be pulled out and replaced. The Destiny rifle in question was the exotic “Arcus Rifle,” also called “SUROS Regime.”
The project was complicated, but Malkowski, and Fabbdea 3D Printing, felt that he was more than up to the task. The first step was designing the model, which as luck would have it would probably be the easiest part of the entire build. It turns out that a website called the Destiny .STL Generator will pull in-game items directly from Destiny and render them as 3D objects. Malkowski just needed to pull his new 3D file into Blender and do some remodeling to turn it into a 3D printable file.
After converting the model, Malkowski chopped it up into about forty individual parts so they could be 3D printed. Using his Leapfrog Creatr HS he printed out the parts in white PLA with a 0.2mm layer. All together the parts took about 400 hours to print completely, mainly because he chose a slower printing speed to increase the resolution and reduce striation marks. Because the rifle was going to be life-sized and made entirely of plastic, Malkowski designed it so a copper pipe would fit inside of the rifle, holding the main parts together, providing much needed durability and giving it some realistic weight.
Once all of the parts were printed, Malkowski and local artist Steve Barnes got to work sanding all of the parts. Once they had smoothed everything down Barnes added three coats of primer to eliminate even more of the striation marks. Then followed with three different layers of paint, some intricately painted details and then two layers of a protective lacquer. Finally Malkowski installed the electronics board, several blue LED lights and a speaker to play sounds from the game.
The finished product honestly speaks for itself. Every detail was reproduced with exacting standards that would almost put most Hollywood prop makers to shape, and Barnes’ paint job is stellar. It’s even difficult to tell the 3D printer version apart from the in-game version. All together the project took well over six months and it was worth every second, at least to Jay, who told Malkowski:
Take a look at this video of the rifle for a closer look at the amazing detail:
Malkowski is offering his STL files for the rifle on Pinshape now–and you can keep an eye on his profile to see other great designs. If you would like to employ Fabbdea 3D Printing to use their services you can contact him directly on his website, over on his Facebook profile or direct message him over on Twitter. Let’s hear your thoughts on this design in the 3D Printed SUROS Rifle forum thread on 3DPB.com.