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Unread 09-17-2013, 04:20 PM   #1
msleeper
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3D Printed Pip-Boy 3000 (Fallout 3)

A month or so ago, I found this 3D printable Pip-Boy 3000 from the game Fallout 3 on Instructables. I've always been a fan of the Fallout series - nuclear apocalypse is my favorite kind of apocalypse scenario! - so I had it on the backburner to go ahead and try printing it. However, as I will be attending Atlanta Mini Maker Faire as a presenter, I wanted to have some simple-ish pieces to show off and pad out what my booth will have. And with that, I decided to go ahead and give this a shot.

For those of you unfamiliar with Fallout 3 or what a Pip-Boy actually is, it's essentially a wrist mounted computer that the player uses throughout the game. It's an incredibly iconic piece for anyone familiar with video game props. The modeler did a fantastic job and printing the pieces was very easy.

I wanted to take this opportunity to address some really common issues that I see people having with 3D printing and prop building. I see a lot of people who are unfamiliar with the process calling 3D printing "cheating" or taking the fun out of building by not having to do any work, or complaining that people will one day soon be able to simply download and press a button to have their favorite props. Ignoring the fact that I don't see why that would ever be a bad thing, I want to show people what the actual printing process is like.

Typically for most of my builds which incorporate 3D printing (which is basically all of them, to some degree), I do the majority of 3D modeling on my own. Either modeling something from scratch, or rebuilding an existing low resolution model that was ripped from a game, or fixing up some existing models out there. But this Pip-Boy is the first thing I've printed where I literally just downloaded the files. Once you have the actual files, you have to run them through a process to generate the tool paths for your 3D printer. From there you load the file it spits out in your printer, and off to the races you go.


(This is a piece from my Ultron 5 build; it's not related to the Pip-Boy print, but it's one of the better mid-print photos I have.)

A few hours later, you get this. Here is 1 piece out of 15 that is pulled straight off the printer with zero clean up work done it it. Far from a "press print and have a prop" scenario.



The "spider webbing" that you see in the middle is caused by the printer's print head picking up and moving around. It looks super gross, but you can clean it up with maybe 5 minutes of sanding. You're also seeing the "raft", which is a thin gridwork layer that the actual object gets printed onto. While printing with a raft is not necessarily required, I've found that I am able to get consistently better prints when using one. The downside is that you have to cut and sand off the remnants of it, but it's a small price for making a better quality print. You'll also need to sand down all of the surfaces to get rid of the visible print lines that the printer leaves. Here is the back half of the Pip-Boy (printed in 3 interlocking pieces) in various stages of cleanup.





This pretty much brings me to where I am right now, which is about 12 hours of work + ~30 hours of 3D printing. I have the 6 pieces for the front and back half all printed and are currently being cleaned and smoothed up before bonding them together. I also need to use some spot putting to fill in some areas where I got a little over zealous with sanding and poked through the printed surface.
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Unread 09-17-2013, 06:53 PM   #2
verdatum
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Awesome. Thank you for sharing this! I am very jealous. The only reason I don't already own a 3D printer myself is that I decided I want a CNC milling machine even more, so I must save up for that instead.

Have you played around with any of the techniques I hear about acetone vapor smoothing? It sounds a touch dangerous, but still looks to be very effective at removing print marks.
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Unread 09-17-2013, 07:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by verdatum View Post
Awesome. Thank you for sharing this! I am very jealous. The only reason I don't already own a 3D printer myself is that I decided I want a CNC milling machine even more, so I must save up for that instead.

Have you played around with any of the techniques I hear about acetone vapor smoothing? It sounds a touch dangerous, but still looks to be very effective at removing print marks.
Acetone vapor, no I haven't done only because I don't have a properly ventilated space to do it in. As far as danger is concerned, you certainly don't want to breathe the fumes since it is crazy toxic. But you don't need to be too terribly afraid of a fire or anything. There is some video on Hackaday maybe where people literally just lit the vapor on fire to see how bad it could get... And it just flashes for a second, and that's it. No explosion, no burned eyebrows.

But acetone washing, yes I have (and am currently doing) that with my printed parts for this, as well as other projects I've done. I was saving it for a post where I've finished that up, and there's pros and cons to acetone washing versus manual sanding. I'll post up updates on acetone washing soon, since the front part of the Pip-Boy has some rounder parts that benefit from it more.
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Unread 09-17-2013, 08:54 PM   #4
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I saw you thread over on RPF too, the Pipboy is looking great.

While you're correct that people often underestimate the amount of work that there can be in finishing a 3d printed piece, it is undeniable that the technology has the potential to removes a a vast portion of the physical aspect and artistry of constructing props. That however does not mean that it doesn't still require effort or a different skill set, such as modeling.
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Unread 09-18-2013, 10:34 AM   #5
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Looking great! Keep us updated.
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Unread 09-19-2013, 04:33 PM   #6
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The next step in the process is joining all of our pieces together, or at least the biggest ones that need to be joined. For this model, the largest sections are the front and back halves, each printed in 3 prints. The reason these had to be split up is because most extrusion 3D printers can't accommodate a 10" tall object, and the ones that can may have troubles with warping or lifting. Any sort of these problems is really bad news for a print since it means you wasted print time and print material. I actually had this happen for one piece here that I'll be posted about soon.

So anyway, here we are joining 2 of the parts for the front half. This model has nicely designed tabs that align the 2 parts, so after some minor cleanup, the two join together very smoothly. I use regular ole cyanoacrylate to join the two inner faces, putting glue on the inside of the tab slots, and around the face of the joining halves.







I let that cure for a few minutes and the two parts are inseparable. There is a little bit of spot filling to be done, since one half may have had the edge rounded slightly while sanding the print lines down, but that's fairly short work.

I have the final part of 15 being printed now. More progress soon.
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Unread 09-22-2013, 02:35 PM   #7
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Well done piece. I am curious though as to how you are like your 3D printer? If I'm not mistaken it's the cube by 3D system? I am in the market and all the testimonials I can find all seem quite paid for.
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Unread 09-22-2013, 04:14 PM   #8
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Well done piece. I am curious though as to how you are like your 3D printer? If I'm not mistaken it's the cube by 3D system? I am in the market and all the testimonials I can find all seem quite paid for.
As a matter of fact, I just wrote something on my last 7 months using the machine. You also probably want to search on sites like Hackaday since they have other perspectives (though frankly the end result seems the same).
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Unread 09-22-2013, 04:34 PM   #9
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Awesome that review made it real easy to make up my mind. Thank you!
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Unread 09-23-2013, 07:28 AM   #10
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Glad I could help! I don't think it's a bad printer, but if you are a tinkerer then it's not the right tool for you. But if you want a printer that requires minimal messing with and comes ready to use out of the box, then go for it.
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Unread 10-06-2013, 01:20 PM   #11
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So I put a few hours into this yesterday, mainly cleaning up the last of the raft/support material, and assembling and acetone washing the large front and back halves. Unfortunately I completely spaced out and forgot to take photos of the process. =\ I'll be back at the workshop in a couple days and I'll be sure to take some photos, maybe try and do a timelapse video.

The project is coming along okay, I'm debating on whether I should try and have it molded by Atlanta Mini Maker Faire, or if I should just try and complete the piece and wear it as-is and worry about molding and casting afterwards.
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Unread 10-07-2013, 02:29 PM   #12
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Snapped a few shots today of the main body as-is. It's interesting how the acetone reacted with the ABS surfaces based on whether it was sanded down or fresh with print lines. The deep black, very reflective areas were the fresh ABS and the other areas are where it was sanded down. The "bubbles" aren't actually bubbles at all. I'm curious what it will look like once I knock the shine off with some 200 grit, if that very top layer will flake off or something.








Last edited by msleeper : 10-07-2013 at 02:31 PM.
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Unread 10-07-2013, 05:29 PM   #13
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Looks like this is coming along nicely. Hopefully I'll have time to make it out to Makers Fair and see it in person.

It's hard to tell from pictures, what are the bubbles? Spots where the acetone was dripped onto the sanded ABS and not immediately removed?

Any plans to integrate some type of interactive screen? It'd be really cool to splice in an old smart phone with a Pip-boy themed interface or something similar.
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Unread 10-07-2013, 06:37 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by 2DLogic View Post
It's hard to tell from pictures, what are the bubbles? Spots where the acetone was dripped onto the sanded ABS and not immediately removed?

Any plans to integrate some type of interactive screen? It'd be really cool to splice in an old smart phone with a Pip-boy themed interface or something similar.
Yeah that's what I'm pretty sure they are. When I was "painting" the acetone I'd get quite a bit of splatter, so I'm fairly certain that's what the spots are.

As far as adding a screen, the original 3D model was designed to be used with a specific smartphone inside of it. I forget the exact one, it says somewhere on the Instructables page. I'm probably just going to stick my Galaxy S3 into it (assuming it's not too large) and set my lock screen to a static Pip-Boy "screen". I may decide to make it a bit more functional later on down the road, but that's not an immediate goal.
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Unread 10-07-2013, 08:19 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by msleeper View Post
As far as adding a screen, the original 3D model was designed to be used with a specific smartphone inside of it. I forget the exact one, it says somewhere on the Instructables page. I'm probably just going to stick my Galaxy S3 into it (assuming it's not too large) and set my lock screen to a static Pip-Boy "screen". I may decide to make it a bit more functional later on down the road, but that's not an immediate goal.
That is awesome. If your S3 works without much modification I might be in the market for a casting whenever you get ready to mold. It just so happens I have a working S3 with a cracked screen that would be perfect for a project like this.
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