Mass Effect 3 Phantom Costume
Costume for Dragon*Con 2012

This is my first attempt at 3D printing. The helmet and the front mask template are both modeled in Maya from scratch. I measured my head (which is pretty small) and scaled the model to fit. I uploaded the files to Shapeways and picked their cheapest, strongest plastic. The helmet is 2mm thick and still a bit pricey ($300), since there is a lot of surface area and Shapeways charges for the amount of material used.

Since I made the helmet in a normal 3D program, the wireframe becomes visible when exported into another program. If I used an AutoCAD program (which is designed to create real things, using NURBS) I wouldn't have had this issue. So yeah, I had visible wire frames in some areas that needed to be primed and sanded to a smooth surface again.

Would I use 3D printing again? Yes. All the details and sharp edges printed with no issues. Printing saved me time, which is in short supply. I didn't have to make molds and slush cast. I also think I saved money, since silicone is expensive.

The worst part about the 3D printing is the cleanup. You can see the printed layers in my images and also the visible wireframe mesh. The plastic is also porous, so you need to hit it with primer before sanding. Sanding the bare surface does pretty much nothing, since the surface is already rough. But still, the cleanup is minimal.
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