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Lights, Camera, 3D Print

Posted on September 21st, 2016 by in New Materials & Applications


By 20th Century Fox [X-MEN: Apocalypse], via

Additive manufacturing not only enables production of part geometries and configurations previously unattainable using traditional manufacturing techniques, but also those not of this world.

Regardless of industry, engineers or developers frequently express surprise at how users are applying their new technologies. Participating in hundreds of focus groups or user observations over my career, one conclusion many researchers commonly remark is, “I never would have foresaw that a user would do that.” I wondered if the manufacturers and suppliers of 3D printing technology are having a similar reaction after reading an article on how 3D printing was used in production of the summer blockbuster movie X-MEN: Apocalypse.

I’ve written previously on a variety of innovations in additive manufacturing from the materials used to the benefits in the downstream manufacturing processes, but never about how it can be applied in the entertainment industry. One of the areas where great effort and expense is expended for movies is in costumes and props. Watch the following video to appreciate the attention to detail in the latest installment of X-MEN.

The costume had other engineering challenges beyond just looking “awesome”. According to Brian Sipe of Legacy Effects, it also had to be quick to put on, fast to take off, and remain as cool as possible since a human had to be in the costume for extended periods of time. I have not yet seen the movie, but it appears the designers and engineers successfully overcame these challenges from a quick look at the official trailer.

What experiences have you had with unorthodox applications of the technologies or applications you’ve help develop? Tell us about your quest for unconventional knowledge and what it could mean for the future of your products or companies. Share your thoughts in the comments section below and don’t forget to follow us on your favorite social media channel.

All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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