Since 2004/5, James Bruton from Southampton, UK, has been running the website XRobots.co.uk, adding a very active YouTube page (subscribe here!) a couple of years afterwards. His videos are weekly releases featuring his original designs and tutorials — touching all topics of costuming, cosplay, robots, and engineering.
With ambitious, longterm costume projects such as his Iron Man inspired Hulkbuster suit and 3D Printed Alien Xenomorph projects, James has developed a tremendous following online from those eager to follow his in-depth discussions of his approaches to design and execution, sharing how he produces each element of his cosplay projects from beginning to end.
Spending time on his site and channel is truly a master class on the intersection between 3D printing and cosplay design!
We have been following his projects for a couple of years now and for this week’s #3DThursday project, collaborated with him by designing a version of the Iron Man 3D printed Unibeam repulsion weapon to be incorporated into his Hulkbuster project.
We interviewed James about his background and advice for aspiring designers — check out a selection below! Also, you can check out James’ video about this collaboration (right before the interview) in additional to the Adafruit video!
Matt Griffin Interviews Cosplay Master Builder James Bruton – xrobots.co.uk
Hi! Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is James Bruton and my website is XRobots.co.uk. I publish regular YouTube videos along with written articles on my website about applied engineering – generally related to building things that are ‘cool’ such as Sci-Fi props and costumes. I use all sorts of techniques such as traditional methods – sculpting/moulding/casting, working with sheet material, wood/metal etc, and also newer things like electronics and 3D printing for some parts.
I’m also a trustee of the UK Southampton Makerspace, SoMakeIt, which is a community run not for profit workshop for makers.
What are your go-to machines? (Desktop printers, services, hand tools, etc!)
I use two Lulzbot 3D printers, the AO-101 and a TAZ 3. I have a large array of hand and power tools, although a lot of my bench tools are now located at SoMakeIt where they can be used by others and we can make a mess.
And what software do you use to get your work done? (Design packages, CAM software, slicers, host software?)
I’m largely using Autodesk123D Design for CAD work, Slic3r for generating G-code, both my printers now print from SD card. Most of the rest of my work is done on scraps of paper or just be offering parts up to each other for sizing.
What is one (or what are some) of your designs that you’d like for everyone to check out?
My two current main projects are my 3D printed Alien Xenomorph suit, printed with dual extruders to make hybrid rigid/rubber parts. And the Iron Man Hulkbuster suit project using a large combination of different materials such as wood, 3D printed parts, sheet materials, electronics.
What is a design challenges that you have faced (and perhaps or perhaps overcome) when creating your work?
My main challenge is making parts that fit and work together within the constraints of publishing weekly videos. 3D printing helps a lot because the parts essentially make themselves, but I have to think carefully about the designs before I build them, and think ahead to future parts without having even designed them yet.
What challenge do you most look forward to tackling in the future?
I have some more project coming, the next high profile one is my ‘extending and retracting Lightsaber’, which will also have sounds and light. I have a cunning idea for the blade extending/retracting mechanism which I don’t believe anyone has tried before.
Any pointers for those just starting out with design and 3D printing?
- Think the design through before trying to build it, sometimes using mock-up pieces made from cardboard etc to see how mechanisms could work.
- Consider that not every part has to be totally 3D printed, or totally any other specific material. Sometimes there are quicker simpler ways to make things such as adding sheet material or bits of wood to the design.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! We also offer the LulzBot TAZ – Open source 3D Printer and the Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printer in our store. If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!