In Brief: Rick Baker's 3D-Printed Sculptures

By Norman Chan

Sculpted in ZBrush, printed on a MakerBot.

We've seen 3D printing being integrated into motion picture production--for example to make the puppets in the stop-motion animated film ParaNorman--but I haven't heard much about 3D printing being used to prototype prosthetic masks and makeups. Artist Frank Ippolito of our Zoidberg Project is toying with the idea of 3D-printing tentacle pieces to figure out Zoidberg's animatronics, and has written about using ZBrush 3D modeling to figure out Zoidberg's form and anatomy. Legendary makeup master Rick Baker has also been dabbling in 3D printing, and recently shared some examples of his first prints using a recently bought MakerBot Replicator 2. He's posted photos of his finished prints in the ZBrushcentral forums, where he goes by the username Monstermaker. On the forum, he explains his clean-up process for the print, testing methods like Acetone solvents and sanding to smooth out and piece together printed PLA filament:

“The biggest clean up is getting the supports off and the build lines. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any solvent that you can brush over the surface to remove the build lines except for solvents that are too dangerous to work with. Acetone does a little but then leaves dry flaky patches. I have been sanding and using dental tools to clean up the prints. Also really valuable is using a soldering iron with a variable temperature setting. Many of the pieces that I have printed have had a problem when for some reason a couple of rows don't print. To save the print I pause the printer and with some scraps from previous printouts or just more of the PLA filament I basically weld it back together with the soldering iron, then resume the print. Otherwise it will continue printing and after a while the top few layers fall off and the printer continues to spew out plastic, which results in a big mess (Ed:true dat!). Once the print is finished I will then carefully weld the seam on the surface and try and bring it back to what it should look like."

(h/t Sean Charlesworth)