Stereolithography for Prototyping?


New Hunter
First off... Greetings & Salutes...

Starting my very first Boba, after reading these forums un-registered for over 2 years. Right now I am working from WizardofFlight's templates to build a rough Beta Stage bucket merely to fit to my noggin' and test various issues with the helmet.

While in the process of doing this, however, an interesting thought popped into my head, and I thought it wise to post it here for comments and discussion:

We have the dimensions of the buckets used in the film, plenty of source photos, and more collective talent on these boards than anyone could've imagined. Why not pool what we know about the parts of the armor, model each piece to scale, and create moldable prototypes using a stereolithography machine?

I realize I'm new here, and I shouldn't make too many waves, but I'd definately be willing to put in the man-hours to accurately model the 'hard parts' of the armor (i.e. not the fabric based parts) in 3D Studio MAX, Maya, Lightwave, or whatever, so long as someone could help in getting the most accurate measurements of each piece. (i.e. exact placement of dents, scratches, re-touches, damage repair, paint job alignment, etc). There is a local manufacturing facility not far from my residence that offers stereolithography prototyping (my father may also be able to get me access to one at the Jet Engine manufacturer he works at, I know they have one there for sure) as well as mold making, and assembly line manufacturing.

I'm not looking to make any money here, quite the opposite, I'm just trying to get the most accurate armor for the least money (probably just like everyone else, hehe). For the time being, I'm going to make a dozen or so buckets based from WOF's templates for tweaking and practice, the rest of my armor will probably go the same way. I'm aiming to build a suit as a Halloween custume, depending on how these go, I may get serious and contact Northeast Mold and Plastic Inc for pricing on prototyping.

What do you guys and gals think?

- CoffeeHedake
Sounds like an intriguing proposition. I think that type of technology is fascinating. The way someone can basically take anything that can be 'drawn' on a computer and pop out a 3D model is just amazing to me.

I think it'd be a great resource for this type of project.
I also think the biggest hurdle would be getting everyone to agree on what looks correct. :lol:
SuperJedi, thanks for the response.

I also think the biggest hurdle would be getting everyone to agree on what looks correct. :lol:

Heh, agreed. Something to consider though, if it comes to that point, chances will be good that the final product (after much discussion, correction, re-discussion, re-correction, etc) would be a masterpiece after everyone has had their input on it.

- CoffeeHedake

Just thought I'd add this ;)

Check out the page it came from... one of my old projects for my SWG Guild, Remnants of Mandalore.

Stereolithography is a great process- I was using it in the early 90's when I worked in the bicycle indusrty for making prototypes and I use it now in the jewelry industry. Unless you have a really great hook up, making something as big as a Boba helmet is going to be very expensive- it'll take a pretty good sized machine to make it. One of the big problems I've found is that the models can sometimes have noticeable ridges, especially on compound curves, that have to be smoothed out before making a mold.
Hmm... Good point. Thanks for the input Honus. I know the machine at the shop in the Pratt & Whitney my father works at is big... very big. They use it to make prototypes (resin or cornsyrup, surprisingly) of jet engine fan blades (some of which are more than 40" long!)

I have no idea what kind of machinery they have available at Northeast Mold and Plastic Inc, but I'm sure I could find out if/when I call for pricing.

Even if the 1st stage prototype had some odd seams (haven't seen this happen yet, but I'll take your word for it) I'm sure some remedy could be introduced, if not simply sanding them before molding like you mentioned.

Pratt & Whitney used to have "bring your kids to work day" and in fact I think they still do, though I'm far too old to participate (23). The main reason I even know about the stereolithography technology there is he was working in the patents office at the time, writing and submitting patents for the tools they used on the jet engines. He had a friend who worked on prototyping the tools for him, as well as doing fan blade prototypes. When my sister and I came in for "bring your kids to work day" she made me a Chevy straight six engine block from corn syrup, and a brachiosaurus for my sister. I still have the engine block to this day. It's miniaturized, probably 1:300 scale, fits in the palm of your hand, but has amazing detail.

I suppose it all depends on the width range of the laser used in the machine, and the materials used to build the prototype.

Just a thought though...

- CoffeeHedake
just a thought for accuracy sake. I am not personally Boba fett's accurate movie size. I had to have my armor made bigger ( slightly in the wierd ways that a stocky ex-soccer player is) than the average. I am not sure of the ratio of fetts who have the correct size vs. those wearing their armor. Obviously it's not a concern if the person is going to put the suit on a mannequin.
I had to have my armor made bigger ( slightly in the wierd ways that a stocky ex-soccer player is) than the average.
Another good point skirata.

One of the nice things about 3D Modeling the various parts of the armor (esp the helmet) in 3D Studio MAX, Maya, Lightwave, etc is the ability to go back, and mathematically resize parts based on the wearer's dimensions. Modeling the suit 1:1 scale in 3DSMAX means that it will be as accurate as possible in that scale, and can be digitally scaled up or down, while staying accurate aside from size (multiplied).

Theoretically the suit could be modeled to 1:1 scale, and several size modified prototypes could be made. (XXL, XL, L, M, S, XS, etc) or the suit could be custom fit digitally to the wearer's specifications.

The only downside for custom suits would be the cost, as a new prototype would have to be stereolithigraphed and molded, which would probably outweigh the costs of buying a premade suit and modifying it to fit. The advantage would be the accuracy and exact fit, without playing with the "trim a little here, and try it" method.

Probably the best idea would be to make the above mentioned sizes, stereolithograph a prototype for each, mold and produce each in limited runs, much like what is currently done with vacuuform for StormTrooper suits, etc.

The freedom lies in the digital prototype, before heading off to the manufacturer to have the prototypes and production models made.

I could probably even 'dry fit' a suit to a person in Max just based on full body & headshot photos in the 'Michaelangelo' or 'T' pose (arms stretched out, legs fully extended, standing upright) so long as the photos had real-world measurement references (a ruler or yardstick next to you in the photo).
Oh wow. . . that opens up some weird possibilities.

"Yes, I'd like a size L helmet, with size XL chest armor with a L cod and M knees. . . to go. And a strawberry shake." ;)
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