I’m going to be assisting at Shop3D.ca Vancouver’s grand opening! If you’re in the Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada) area, come by and check out the 3D printers and vacuum former at this free event. I’ll be available to answer questions about 3D printing for cosplay and props. See the eventbrite for details.
My friends at Shop3D.ca are having a contest and I thought you might be interested.
They’re looking for people to submit models of ornaments that they can 3d print and add to their office Christmas tree. A favorite design will be chosen and the winner will receive a 3DSimo prize pack. I thought cosplayers would be interested because the 3DSimo Mini 2 does soldering, hot wire foam cutting and wood/leather burning in addition to 3D drawing. All around it is pretty cool, I’ve been playing with it a lot.
(The chance to win a 3DSimo is only open to Canadians, but Non-Canadians are welcome to submit designs to be featured, with credit, on social media)
It is cheaper than some methods and more expensive than others.
For example this Master Swordby Lloyd Robertsprinted in PLA (a common plastic for 3D printing) was quoted between $60 and $200 Canadian on 3dhubs.com. The fancier the material (like resin or wood fill) the higher the price.
If you own a printer then the cost of the machine is pricey, but you will likely be paying less per piece. For example, the master sword above is 560 grams of material, which is about one spool. Higher quality PLA is roughly $50 Canadian a spool, with the lower quality PLA being even less.
You might also find better deals by printing at a makerspace. You could, possibly, even get free or discount printing at your local library if they have machines for public use. Just keep in mind that print times can be lengthy and big projects will likely take you more than one day to fully print.
You also need to factor in what you need for finishing the prop: superglue for gluing the pieces together, (in some cases) a filler, sandpaper and/or a dremel, primer and paint.
What if you wanted props for the sake of having props?
Kevin, who was answering the questions last week, has been printing props for the sake of having props. His collection includes Alice’s knife from Madness Returna and A2′s Type 40 sword from Nier Automata, Mercy’s staff, Widowmaker’s sniper rifle and D.VA’s pistol from Overwatch.
Like, say, a 3D printed Junkyard Dog Mk. 3 sword (Sol Badguy’s current transforming weapon from GGXrd)?
You could definitely print that. I couldn’t find a free downloadable model for that weapon so likely you would have to model it yourself or get someone to do it for you. There are people who take commissions for 3D modelling. You could also try contacting dark-minaz who modeled this Junkyard Dog MK III and see if he can help you out.
The final product can have tiny microscopic holes that can trap food inside it making it hard to wash out. This becomes a biohazard. If you were to finish it with epoxy like they do with ceramic plates then it should be safe to use with eating.
To build on the above, it is likely so expensive they need to make sure that it isn’t going to make people sick. This means using specific food-grade materials, maybe specific printing methods or finishing methods, and having a dedicated printer for food safe products. If you print something like ABS which shouldn’t be used for food, you might have traces of those chemicals in the nozzle or tube or on the printing bed so you can’t use the printer for anything else.
Perhaps as 3D printing advances and becomes better suited to a variety of purposes it will be easier and cheaper to print food-safe products.
In the meantime, use food-safe coatings to finish your print pieces. If you need a flexible mold, print positives with your printer and use a food-safe silicone / material to make molds.
Shop3d.ca offers printing through 3D Hubs (I usually handle those orders) and we ship mostly to Canada but also handle orders from the US. You can always contact us if you have questions about your print and we can give you some advice about what material might work best and let you know how long it will take or how much it will cost.
If you want to find a 3d printer closer to you, 3D hubs actually lets you set up your file and finds print shops that are in your area. You can also look for local makerspaces that have 3D printers available or libraries that have printers you can use.
I am not advocating a higher level of scrutiny, just providing information for judges about the process and questions they could ask to learn more about the work that went into it. If someone came in with serged seams and commercial fabric choices, as a judge you might look for signs that identify that they made it rather than bought it. If the visual clues aren’t there, you might ask what serger they have or why they chose the fabric they did. This translates to what printer was used and why they chose the filament or resin they did. It is important for Judges to know what to ask or look for when it comes to newer techniques.
I do agree that the cheating concerns I listed could be applied to resin kits and laser cutting and routing. I did not say it created new avenues for cheating, but that it offers these newavenues. So to clarify: It isn’t bringing these ways to cheat into existence but it is making them more accessible and easy for people to take advantage of.
3D printing is a really cool tool but it is not a magical solution and it is not an impossible skill. The point was to get judges to know that there is work put into these projects beyond hitting the print button, but also that prints can be downloaded and the work put in is not necessarily through 3D modeling and that is is possible to have a print you didn’t put any work into at all. Asking questions can help determine a cosplayer’s actual contribution, and this goes for all sorts of costumes.
Thanks for the valuable input! (I’ll try to be more clear in the future) —Duckie / Admin
That said, I can think of some situations where the cosplayer may have put in work in other areas, aside from the initial model:
Maybe a cosplayer drew up the plans and figured out how something would work, but got a friend to do the modeling or got it commissioned. From there the cosplayer did the printing and finishing.
Kevin printed a Type-40 sword from Nier:Automata. He did not do the modeling but he sliced it (cut it up into smaller sections) so it could be printed on a very small printer. To get the final sword he had to glue those parts together and still has to do the finishing. It isn’t the same as modeling but there is some level of problem solving and work involved.
Many cons have a “You must have made 80% of your costume/prop yourself to enter” rule for their costume competitions. So it will be up to the cosplayer to really show that at least 80% of the work was done by themselves. It is also up to the judges to determine if the cosplayer’s contribution was actually 80% and how their work compares to the competition.
This is a great question! When I first started getting into 3D printing it is something I thought about a lot.
How 3D Printing Fits In
Cosplay already is a huge amalgamation of skills. We’re here styling wigs (sometimes that alone is an understatement), doing makeup, sewing, crafting, working with electronics, engineering all sorts of structures and contraptions, we’re woodworking, painting both digitally and traditionally, modeling, writing skits and acting in them. Cosplay judges already have it rough! How do you compare a brilliantly sewn ballgown to a brilliantly crafted suit of armor when the skills, tools and techniques behind making them are so different?
In that craziness, I think 3D printing is able to fit right in. 3D modeling? Cosplayers have been using models for pepakura crafting. Machine precision? Vinyl cutting and laser cutting for cosplay are rare but not unheard of. Plastic pieces? Worbla, wonderflex, PETG … we’re no strangers to thermoplastics. And from there the filling, sanding, priming and painting is similar to just about any other armor or prop.
3D printing is tool that can help with the creation of costumes, and I think 3D printed props can be judged alongside others. However it is important to remember this is a tool and not a magical solution or an impossible skill.
Cheating at cosplay competitions isn’t something new. There have been cosplayers caught passing off commissioned/bought costumes as their own work and there are cosplayers who were called out for winning awards with commissioned costumes. Unfortunately, 3D printing offers new avenues for cheating:
Props, accessories and other models are offered for free on a variety of sites and communities. There are also models for sale, models could be commissioned and even printed pieces could be sold as part of kits. How do you tell if someone modeled their own piece or if they downloaded it?
Even though pieces can be downloaded, cosplayers may still add their own additions. At what point does it become their own work?
How much value should be put into the initial modeling vs. finishing the object. How does painting a nerf gun compare to making a gun from scratch?
If judges are uninformed about 3D printing, it will be easier to pass off someone else’s modeling work as your own.
What Should Judges Ask?
Did you model it yourself or download a model? Modeling it yourself is like drafting a sewing pattern or designing a pepakura file. Downloading is like using a commercial pattern or downloading the pep file and working from it.
What program did you use or how did you construct it? If they modeled it they should be able to tell you what program or programs they used in designing it. They may be able to give you examples of challenges they faced or how they solved some design problem. They may be able to show you modeling progress pictures.
Did you modify a file? How much and why? If they downloaded a model, they may still have made a significant contribution to it through modification. Similar to altering a sewing pattern. With modeling, their contribution could also be to solve problems: smoothing out a really choppy game rip or fixing an impossible object/broken geometry.
Did you print it yourself or through a service? Setting up a print is pretty quick and relatively easy, but there is still skill involved in problem solving errors and choosing the best settings. A comparison might be getting a wig that is already the right length for your style vs. getting a wig that is too long and needs to be cut before you can style. There is a little bit more knowledge and skill involved in cutting the wig to the right length first. If you are unsure about their answer try asking them about the printer they used, the print settings or the infill % used.
What material did you choose and why? There are different printing materials although ABS and PLA are the most common. Asking the cosplayer what material they printed with, and why, can give you information about their involvement in the printing side of things. PLA is the easier to use material and it smells a lot less, but it also is less heat resistant than ABS. ABS is more heat resistant, perfect if your prop will be sitting in the sun, but it smells terrible when printing and is more tempermental. Other materials include resins, wood filament (looks, smells and feels like wood), copper filament which is heavy and metallic, nylon and even carbon fiber!
How did you prep your piece and paint it? 3D printing gets you a prop, but few pieces will be perfect right out of the printer. Home printers are usually fairly small and most prints will be in multiple pieces that have to be glued together. From there, there is filling, sanding, priming, sanding and painting once the base is smooth — much like making armor or props from other materials. Judge these finishing steps the same way you would other projects.
Why did you choose 3D printing over another method? Understanding why they went with 3D printing might help you with your overall assessment of their pieces.
What should cosplayers do to be prepared for judging?
Document your progress so you can show the work put into it and provide it is your work. Take screenshots through the modeling process, take a picture of the print as it looks off the printer and show the settings you chose when setting up your print.
Give credit where it is due. If you built off another person’s work or used another person’s model: tell the judges.
Be willing to explain your process and what it means, your judges may have no knowledge of 3D printing. Remember, you have a short amount of time to “sell” them your costume as the best. Letting them know where you spent your time, what skills were used and what challenges you faced will help them understand what went into the costume you are wearing. Tell them you spent hours sculpting in mudbox and creatively sliced your piece to fit on a tiny printer the same way you would tell them you spent hours beading and made your own lace.
Is 3D printing More or Less Work?
The first thing I 3D printed for cosplay was my Rosalina brooch. I turned to 3D printing because I was having trouble getting crisp lines and a proper star shape. To do it, I drew a vector drawing in illustrator and brought that into a 3D program. Then through extruding, beveling and subtracting I was able to create the shapes I wanted. For me, it was easier to create the shape digitally but it also involved applying my vector skills/knowledge and learning 3d modeling skills/knowledge. It is hard to say if that is more or less work than using the same vector as a stencil to use with the worbla/foam. In this scenario it is a means to an end.
Another piece that I used in cosplay was my Lucoa horns. These were originally designed by diogok but I came up with a peg system to attach them to the hat and Kevin did the modeling for me. Downloading the file was definitely less work, even though we made modifications. In this scenario, 3D printing saved time and work by building off existing models and just having to paint the final piece.
So it largely depends on the work put into the piece compared to other methods. There are going to be things that are easier to do in 3D printing and there are going to be things that are easier with other materials. The best thing to do as a judge is asking questions to find out how involved the cosplayer was with their work. As a cosplayer, the best thing to do is explain how much work you put into a piece, what the challenges were, and why you chose to 3D print over other methods.
3D printing is growing in popularity among cosplayers, and it’s not hard to see why! Thanks to the community, sites like thingiverse offer a huge library of pre-designed cosplay props and accessories that you can print at home, a makerspace or an online print seller. There are lots of benefits to printing from getting machine-accurate crisp lines and intricate filigree added directly on your props and accessories to easily being able to create duplicates. Plus, 3D printing is just COOL! That said, it is still really new and the topic can inspire a lot of questions about how the whole thing works.
Luckily, my friends at Shop3D.ca have agreed to answer your questions about 3D printing this week!
Shop3D.ca is a Canadian based 3D Printer resale and supply boutique carrying Ultimaker, Formlabs, Zortax and BCN3D printers, filaments, resins and accessories. They also service printers and provide prints through 3D Hubs.