Adventures in 3D Printing - Chirrut Imwe's Props

Chris Van Deelen

Welcome to my second step-by-step description / tutorial / how to / how NOT to article on building props using a 3D printer.

For those of you who are not familiar with this brief series of articles, at the end of January I purchased a Dremel 3D20 Idea builder 3D printer and have been using it quite extensively for the past few months.

Unfortunately I did skip taking photos during several steps, but I have enough! I’ll try to do better in the future.

I recently posted an article about the steps I took in creating Poe Dameron’s blaster for my Poe Dameron cosplay. I showed it off at the 2017 Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo and it was fairly well received.

Since I was also cosplaying as Chirrut Imwe, I needed to print out the props for his costume. This consisted of a wrist-guard, hand guard, bicep piece, and a pair of items which hung off his bandolier.

As with Poe’s Blaster, I was pleased to find all the STL files on Thingiverse, and downloaded them. I was also lucky enough to later find the STL file to create his staff, but that’s for another article.

The prints were very fast, taking a total of about 10 hours to do all of them. I used a gray PLA for the original prints, and quickly discovered the wrist and hand guard were a little too large. (see images below).

And as I had with the Poe Dameron Blaster, there was a little bit of an issue with lack of supports for the wrist unit, but unlike the blaster, it wasn’t too bad this time around.

With one exception!

The pipe (part of the wrist unit), was on its side in the STL file. When I printed it, the pipe failed. It was about half the size, and looked terrible (sorry, I didn’t think to take a picture of it).

So I had to go in and manipulate the file, and turned the pipe on its end. I also took the two separate files and put them together as one print, just because I could. Doing so did not make the print any faster, it just allowed me to print two pieces at once instead of one!

After printing out all the parts, I used my hand Dremel to clear the excess overhang from the wrist unit and glued it together using Mercury Adhesives, the same glue I used for my first prop. 

After clamping the two halves together, I took the pipe (part of the wrist unit), and glued it together as well. When I attempted to use clamps to hold it, things did not work out well at all. In the end I had to stand it very carefully on its end and took the time to make sure it was as close to perfect as possible.

I left all the pieces alone for my usual 24 hours so they could dry properly.

I found there were a few small gaps along the edge, so I used the filler to take fill these in and let it dry for another 24 hours.

A quick sanding and the gaps were gone and it was ready for the next step.

Overall I was pleased with how this print turned out.

The next step was to prime the parts for painting. I used the same primer I had on my blaster and let the pieces dry.

At this point I figured I was marching along with little issue to the props, and I was quite pleased. Only one failed print, and very little wastage of PLA.

As it turned out, I was wrong.

Things started to go badly when I went to paint the props.

The gun-metal grey paint I used turned out to be incompatible with the primer and ran, bubbled and created a real mess.

Sanding did nothing to help, so I figured I would put a little more effort into the sanding and try to paint it later, and went onto the other pieces.

The black paint I used seemed to have ‘issues’ with the primer, just like the paint I tried on the wrist unit.  It looked as if it was melting, as indicated by the picture below.

Of course I was annoyed at this.

After putting a little bit of thought into it, I decided I was going to simply reprint the pieces. There are two reasons for me doing this – first I wanted a fresh ‘base’ to paint with, and secondly I found the items to be too large and wanted them slightly smaller.

So I reprinted the wrist unit at 70% size ratio.

And it was too small.

My annoyance factor went up.

With the other props ruined by the paint, I decided to try again and this time I printed out all the pieces (except the bicep piece) at 85% and found this was the best setting to use. As you can see from the provided image, I filled in the gaps on the wrist.

Also I used white PLA for this particular print and was pleased to see nothing went wrong, and I got perfect prints each time.

As I had with the first attempt, I glued the wrist-guard together and let it dry for 24 hours, then filled in the gaps and once the filler had set, sanded it smooth.

This time I decided I was going to bypass the primer and I just went straight to the painting. The image blow shows only the beginning of the painting process.

I used images I found on the web to paint the props and unlike the issues I had with the previous props, everything turned out perfectly!

The next and final step was I purchased a meter-long strip of Velcro from Fabricland, a store which is only a few blocks from where I live.

I cut the strip into pieces and got my wife to sew one half onto the actual costume, with the exception of the bandolier. That was too thick for her to get the needle through.

Thankfully the glue I used to put the pieces together was up to the challenge and worked on the faux leather of the bandolier, as well as the back of the props themselves.

Using clamps, I held the Velcro strips on all the pieces as well as the bandolier itself and let them set overnight.

Due to time constraints, I simply couldn’t let them sit for 24 hours like I had before.

Still, it turned out perfectly!

My props were ready not only for the expo, but the Parade of Wonders!

Thanks for taking the time to read over this article and I hope you will take something away with you, either suggestions on what to do – or what not to do!