i3One of the areas which has seen substantial benefit from 3D printing is that of the prop and costume industry. Whether created for movie and set production or printed out as simply a hobby, the design attributes that 3D printing has to offer are taking prop and costume making to the next level.

Over the last 13 months we have seen numerous body suits and masks from popular movies 3D printed. We’ve seen entire 3D Printed Alien Xenomorph suits created, as well as life-sized suits such as the Hulkbuster from the Iron Man movies 3D printed and then painted. Additive manufacturing enables fine intricate details which could not have been accomplished without great expense using traditional forms of subtractive manufacturing.

In what may be one of the most detailed and largest prop/costume projects we have seen to date, a 20-year-old Marvel Comics enthusiast named Ross Wilkes has created a 3D printed life-sized Iron Man suit.

The project — which Wilkes started way back in 2013 as part of his odd, yet very creative, New Year’s resolution — has taken 14 months to finally culminate in a complete suit reminiscent of Tony Stark’s famous armor.

“Building my own Iron Man suit has been an incredible challenge,” says Wilkes. “Before I could start, I had to learn the basics of 3D printing and was able to pick up the rest along the way. I’m thrilled with what I’ve been able to create using only a 3D printer, and to be able to see the complete suit now is incredible.”

i3‘Incredible’ may be an understatement. Wilkes, who used only one 3D printer, a Velleman K8200, which was purchased in kit form back in 2013 and assembled soon thereafter, used quite a bit of filament for this project. A total of 32 1kg-spools of filament were used, equating to approximately a 1.8-mile-long strand. Because the Velleman 8200 has a build envelope of just 20 x 20 x 20 cm, Wilkes had to 3D print the suit in hundreds of separate pieces before fusing them all together, sort of like a puzzle.

Velleman 8200 3D Printer

Velleman 8200 3D Printer

Three different colors of filament were used for the main body of the suit — red, gold, and gray — and it even features the familiar chest repulsor transmitter, centered at the sternum area. Unlike many past projects we have seen, Wilkes did not paint or use any finishing techniques on this project, relying on the colors of the filament to do their job. As you can see from the images provided to us by Wilkes, he’s done a remarkable job at realizing an accurate rendition of the suit, one which appears to be 3D printed, yet still remains a very accurate representation of the suit we are all familiar with from comic books and movies.

Let’s hear your thoughts on this incredible 3D print in the 3D printed Iron Man Suit forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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