How to Choose a 3D Printer for Cosplay
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How to Choose a 3D Printer for Cosplay

Nov. 2, 2020, 10:54 a.m.

choosing a 3D printer for cosplay

At my first Cosplay convention at DragonCon in Atlanta, GA, I was immediately impressed by the creativity and detail people put into their cosplay. Walking around and seeing characters from some of my favorite movies, TV shows, and video games coming to life – it was an experience I will never forget!

One of the many tools of the trade that Cosplayers have begun using in recent years to make their amazing costumes is 3D Printers. 3D Printers have come a long way since first emerging on the scene several years ago. Their technologies and capabilities continue to improve at a remarkable rate.

I've considered buying a 3D printer of my own for a variety of projects, cosplay included. I thought I'd share a few of the fundamentals that I've been thinking about with you.

What do I want to make?

Seems like a great place to start, so I'll kick it back to you.

What do you want to make? Do you want to build:

Do you want to make delicate, detailed objects or accessories to adorn your costume? Depending on what you want to print will drive some of the other considerations, print size is one.

How large do you need your printed piece to be?

Print size is one of the primary points to consider. How large do you need your printed piece to be?

Cosplay pieces are typically worn, usually large, and larger pieces require a larger print volume. You can connect smaller pieces together.

Be careful. You will want to make sure that you either join or bond those areas together really well to look clean and is convention survivable.

What are your technical needs?

Lastly, you want to consider your technical requirements like materials you'll use, the durability you need, resolution, and print speed.

using 3D printers for costumes
3D printer example.png

Don't worry, we won't get too technical here. Still, even at a high level, there are a variety of technical parameters to consider.

Today's 3D printers offer various material types that can be used for printing, depending on the type of printer. The strength and durability of materials are pretty good overall.

Still, depending on the thicknesses of your final print, some materials may be better than others. Some materials also offer a metallic finish that could look really good for armor and weapons.

The color of your materials may not matter since you may likely paint your final product anyway. Still, it is worth considering if you would want multi-colored printed materials. Other technical factors like print speed and resolution represent various trade-offs.

For example, a higher quality print will require a higher resolution and take longer. Using a printer with a higher print speed will be faster at your desired resolution. This, of course, will also partially drive the last area that we will consider the cost.

How Much Do You Want to Spend?

Cost. I saved this one for last on purpose. 3D printers, especially large format ones with spacious print areas, can be prohibitively expensive.

However, don't despair just yet! You may not need to buy one to actually use one.

Check out these places to see what services they offer:

The local library in my hometown has several great resources for cosplay, including sewing machines, Cricut machines, and, you guessed, 3D printers!

I hope that this starts to whet your appetite for thinking about 3D printers. I have had fun researching and brainstorming creative ways to use a 3D printer for future Cosplays, and I think you will too.

And when you've printed something, come put it on and tell us all about it!

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