Images: Courtesy Jet Cooper, Makinarium UK
Q: With the main challenges out of the way, what came next?
TB: I had one or two more tricky bits to focus on. The eye socket area was not 3D printed but vacuum cast. We wanted these parts to have some texture, but as with any minute details on a vacuum casting part with softer rubbers, the detailing would have to be added in later. We created a master pattern in SLS and then cast the pieces. I applied some grey cellulose paint over the top and created the slightly dimpled appearance manually. The jaw line was also cast in a rubber, but there was minimal finishing required here.
LA: The last of the tricky bits for me were her eyes. Obviously, when she was finished these would need to be moveable. We printed the lenses in WaterShed and I played around with the tint and adding the iris detail in using paint. However, in the end I decided that as she was a robot, her eyes were most likely to act as a camera and perhaps this was the way to go. I cut two discs representing a camera shutter and, in the end, left the eyes transparent and well-polished. The lenses were set into two SL orbs printed in SOMOS® EvoLVe 123, our shiny white resin which offers a very smooth surface and exceptional detailing. Tristan finished the very fine detailing with cellulose paint.
Q: This leaves her face. How did you create such a stunning, smooth finish?
LA: The majority of Aurora’s head was printed on our NEO 800 SL machine, using the SOMOS® EvoLVe 123 resin. This white photopolymer resin is super-smooth, picks up an enormous amount of detail, and feels just like injection moulded thermoplastic. It’s very popular with prop-makers and it’s easy to see why.
At one stage, everyone had a go with the airbrush.
Tristan and I collaborated on this bit. We had an idea that Aurora needed to be glossy and yet still have some shading to reflect her female form. Without this, we’d need to rely on the play of light and with one colour, the result would seem a bit flat.
We decided that we would follow a three-step process. First, we would cover the parts with a primer. This would enable us to then coat her in a lacquer with a slightly blue -black tint. Finally, we would use the airbrush to layer up the paint and provide the subtle shading that would ensure she looked feminine.
TB: I think everyone in the model shop had a go with the airbrush at one stage! Believe it or not, most of Aurora was painted with a water-based and cellulose paints. The result, once finished and lacquered, is durable and water resistant. The multiple layers of paint will ensure that very little UV light will reach the EvoLVe substrate which has a tendency to yellow with age. As you can see, the finish is perfect – she’s smooth, shiny, futuristic and ultimately feminine despite her metallic and slightly steam-punk skeleton!
Lee Adams and Tristan Brown are just two of Paragon’s 15-strong expert model making team. The team have been creating functional training models, props, exhibition and display models and prototypes for a wide range of industries since 2003. For more information, please contact: Andrew.McCormack@paragon-rt.com