French electronic music superstars Daft Punk donned their famous robot masks way back in 2001 as a way to avoid being photographed once the notoriously press-shy duo’s music started to earn them a considerable amount of fame. Since then the robotic helmets have become a trademark of the pair, and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter are rarely photographed publically without them. They even wear them on stage when the performing live, and often work their individual helmets’ LED displays into their actual shows and sync them to the beats of their music. The musical duo’s talent, and it could be argued their iconic helmets, have helped them achieve remarkable success and become one of the best selling electronic music artists in the world.
The Ruiz Brothers over at Adafruit never cease to amaze me with some of the awesome projects that they dream up and turn into real finished objects. The handy siblings have paid tribute to Daft Punk before by 3D printing the large, golden, domed helmet of Guy-Manuel. And while it was a great 3D printing project, the brothers Ruiz wanted to make Thomas’ helmet a little more wearable. Their plan was to make it lighter, easier to finish, wearable and unlike their first helmet they wanted people wearing it to be able to see out of it. They also added some more sophisticated LED NeoPixel lights that can be easily programmed, controlled and modified from either a smartphone or a smart watch. And people said that the Apple Watch was worthless… But they won’t be saying that when you finally find a use for it by changing the colors on your Daft Punk helmet!
The helmet was designed in Fusion 360 and sent to Simplify3D to slice and prepare for printing. In order to make the helmet more wearable they shelled it out so it was only 2mm thick, making it extremely lightweight and comfortable(ish) to wear. They also cut the helmet up into three individual pieces and were able to orientate them so none of the parts would need any support material. The parts were 3D printed on a large Type A Machines Series 1 3D printer, which has a print envelope large enough to accommodate the oversized parts. Because they set the resolution pretty high, the 3D printing itself actually took several days to complete. The results speak for themselves though, and it almost isn’t necessary to sand or paint the helmet.
In order to help the parts fit together easily, the Ruiz Brothers added some small pockets that matched up on each of the connecting parts of the helmet. They designed the pockets to fit a basic craft stick, which they measured to size, cut and glued using a silicone-based adhesive. After gluing all three parts securely together and letting it dry, the helmet was sanded down and then given a thick coating of XTC-3D to smooth out the striation marks and fill any gaps left over from joining the parts together. It was then primed, sanded again, and then painted with a few coats of chrome spray paint. The Ruiz Brothers then wired together all of the LED NeoPixel strips, added the lightshow code and put the finishing touches on the helmet. It’s pretty hard to argue with the amazing results.
Here is the video from Adafruit about this project:
Because all of the helmet parts were designed using Fusion 360 the Ruiz Brothers were able to make all of the 3D design files public so they can be completely customized. The files can also be imported into any other CAD software package to be edited or remixed. The helmet as is was designed to fit on a head with a hat size of 7″ ⅜, which is on the large size. That means the helmet will have tons of room inside for all of the electronics, and even someone wearing glasses. If it’s too loose there is also room to stick in some padding to make the helmet tighter and more comfortable.
Not only does this great helmet allow you to cosplay as your favorite electronic music artist, but the lights can also be programed to use it to make light painting photography. It should be pointed out that this is a pretty advanced 3D printing and electronics project that probably isn’t a good idea for beginners to try to take on. But as always Adafruit has written up some very detailed assembly and finishing instructions, so if you really want to give it a try you’ll have a good chance of making it work.
Let’s be honest, the Ruiz Brothers probably have the best job a maker could ever want, they get to use all of the great electronics and 3D printing parts available at Adafruit, make great stuff and share it with the internet. I would almost be jealous of them if my job didn’t let me sit on my sofa with a dog on my lap writing about their projects. You can find more great 3D printing and basic electronics projects from the Ruiz Brothers over on Adafruit. What are your thoughts on this helmet? Let us know in the 3D Printed Daft Punk Helmet forum on 3DPB.com.