What modern woman can’t use a coat of incredibly strong and resistant armor as she navigates her way though the daily battles of life, while still seeking to look stylish all the while? Trust me, I have my days when some armor seems adequate to the task of my own survival. Thankfully, there are 3D designing and printing women to deliver that fantasy, and Natasha Spokish, aka Bindi Smalls, is one of the best!
If you take a look at Bindi Smalls’ website or Facebook page, she appears to lead a rather charmed existence. Charmed, that is, if you are into things like video games, 3D printing, and cosplay. On her website, Smalls describes herself as a gamer for 22 years.Her experience in cosplay is a little more recent, within the past year and a half. Her video game cosplay characters have included Mad Mooxi, Bioshock Infinite’s Elizabeth, DotA 2’s Drow Ranger and Bloodseeker, and many more. These costumes have been featured all over the US at events such as Atlanta’s DragonCon, Raleigh’s Animazement, and Boston’s PAX East. Recently, she dazzled BlizzCon 2015 attendees with a 3D printed suit of body armor which took her over 500 hours to make!
This armor, featured at BlizzCon 2015 in Anaheim, is a very impressive take on the character Nova Terra from the Blizzard StarCraft series. Heroes of the Storm provided game assets that Smalls used, which required using Blender to add missing details (like converting triangle polygons to quads). This modeling process alone took weeks to complete. Then, Smalls used a full 3D print of herself that she already had from New York Comic Con. This print was conveniently used to scale her armour pieces for 3D printing. (Who doesn’t need a full 3D print of herself in times like these?)
Using a LulzBot TAZ 5 3D printer, Smalls reports she printed the armor parts in PLA, smoothed them with XTC-3D epoxy, and then she sanded them, primed them, and gave them a base coat. She used a method called hydro dipping, or hydrographics, which uses water to transfer a print onto 3D objects, to add the final layers of detail onto the parts.
Smalls explains that she spent “countless hours” on the modeling process and 500 hours — and about $400-$500 — to print the entire set of body armor. From looking at this costume, no one would doubt this much time went into it! A dedicated 3D printing or video game fan – and that combination is pretty common – is likely to have already seen this amazing costume. If not, let me recommend Smalls’ Facebook page, which has more than 28,000 likes and tons more photos of her wearing this incredible armor in a variety of contexts. If you haven’t liked her page yet, dear reader, what are you waiting for? Discuss this cool design in the Nova Terra 3D Printed Armor forum on 3DPB.com.