Monday, October 6, 2014

3d Printed mask for Tomorrowworld and Nori's adventure

So I just got back from the largest music festival in the US, Tomorrowworld. This was actually my first music festival, and I wanted to join the festivities by making my own mask for the event. I figured it was a way I could also learn how to 3d print as that is a very important aspect of the direction Nori Toy is going. I picked up a Davinci 1.0 printer due to its print area and resolution and thought I could just design something in a 3d program and go. Here is a short journey of my experience on this project.

After tweaking in Sculptris I brought it into lightwave to scale and add more parts.

I use lightwave 3d 9.5, as I am invested into it, so it is my software of choice. As I get better with 3d I may upgrade to the newest version or consider more software options. The nice thing about lightwave 3d is the real world units it works in. It was not until I looked into file conversions that I found that some software use their own units of measure. I thought I could just design something and print, but there was somewhat of a learning curve ahead. There is a couple of plugins for LW9+ to export STL files. None of them actually produced a file for me. I then downloaded a slew of free/open source 3d programs. I was not keen on any of the interfaces but settled on Google Sketchup. I actually don't model with it, but I use it as a conversion tool. All it needed was a STL plugin, and it was ready to go.
The next issue was to find a file type that I could easily convert into Sketchup. The problem with lightwave is the odd values for exporting files and maintaing scale. Things would get enlarged or shrunk. I values I needed to keep things 1:1, I was unsure of. I was not able to find a lot of documentation on the subject, but I did find some info on the Newtek forums. One member discovered that exporting collada from LW and importing into sketchup did not change the objects scale. So sketchup could be used to just export the STL and bring it into XYZware to print. I actually spent most of my time researching this to get my files right. I got so close on time that rather than fully modeling my own mask, I found this one on thingverse as a base.

Since it was a STL I pulled it into Sketchup and then was able to convert it to an object that could modify in lightwave. It took a long time to load due to its complexity on slower my laptop. Sketchup failed quite a bit, but I finally got it to work. I will likely go back to my desktop for 3d work in the future. Since I am still a novice in LW, I decided to modify it in sculptris. I added some bits, then took it back to lightwave to fine tune and add ports for glow bracelets. Since the mask was designed for the original creators face I had to take some measurements of my own head and then make some adjustments in LW.
Sadly it was not so easy as pushing print and waiting for my model. I had a lot of problems with XYZware likely due to the file size. I had to do some work to repair the file and all sorts of digital black magic to get it to print. It took about 10 hours to print. I even had some supports fail but luckily the design did not sag or collapse.

You can see the mess where some of the supports came loose from the heat bed and the head printed in the air. These strands became part of the glue I made, shown later in this article. 
Tools for cleanup. Snipped supports and had to saw off the base I added. 
 I was getting closer to my departure so I had to make what I had work. Part of the problem was fitment. I had to use a heat gun to warm up the mask enough to bend a couple of sections. One being the width against my face and the curve of the top overhang. It pressed into the top of my head. I was close on my measurements but did not have the extra space needed for comfort. Considering it was my first attempt it was fairly close. Once the fitment was good I began to remove the supports in the ports with a dremel. It turned out I measured wrong and they were too small. I was able to drill them out, but most did not have walls thick enough to support the glow bracelet. I figured I might as well experiment now. I ground off the connectors and then printed some new ones that did fit properly. I then used acetone to weld them to the mask.

Test fitment of the glow tube with the newly replaced brackets. 
 I had come up with a trick. I threw some thin filament into a cup of acetone and as it melted I got sort of a glue I could paint on and it would bond with the mask and the ports. I wore a vapor mask and goggles while doing this, especially since it took some time to do. While I was at it, I smoothed some of the areas with acetone and a brush. I figured it was all a learning experience so I experimented with all sorts of ideas on this project. Once I finished, I carried everything inside... I accidentally dropped the mask and it split in two. A learning experience, I was not ready for. I ended up loosing a whole day to repair it. I used my acetone weld technique to bond it, and add material to those sections for strength.

An old pan I use for chemicals. Acetone and filament for bonding printed parts. 

The mask broke above and below the nose on the left side. You can see the extra material from strands of painted on ABS. 

Wear safety equipment to protect lungs and brain. It almost looks like it would go well with my mask. 

Next I wanted to smooth it up. I printed at a lower resolution to save time. To clean that up I took a steamer and evaporated some acetone and it smoothed it out some. I did leave it too long, which did manage to damage the repair I did the day before from when the mask split. So I ended up having to redo the repair. I did learn a lot from the acetone smoothing process, but of course it took more time to finish the mask.

The mask hangs inside the acetone only steamer for smoothing. 

I left it too long in the acetone vapors and some areas bubbled up. I had to scrape most of them off, but a valuable lesson, right?
 Since I was short on time for painting I decided to use some fabric glow paint that I already had. I started brushing it on, and as each coat dried I would test it in the dark. I was not getting the results I imagined. The glow was not consistently spread out on the mask, and it seemed to be more intense the thicker the application. After a few more coats I decided just to go wild with all the paints and layer it as thick as I could constantly changing the design. My biggest gripe about the finished green areas is that due to the green and the texture it was a little grotesque. It reminded me a little of swamp thing in those areas. I was not too worried about it, as this mask was meant to be worn at night and the glow would be what I relied on. Once I was settled with the painting I sewed a band on to hold it tightly. Lastly I used some craft foam sheets to add padding inside the mask since it would be held on tightly by the band.

With different types of brushes, I was not able to smoothly apply this paint all that well. 
After a few coats you can see how it was a little ghostly in how it glowed. 
Half way through the application I just started adding the paint in all sorts of patterns on thick layers. 
Testing the mask in black light conditions. 
Another test in the dark right after blasting it with some intense UV lighting.
And the final results at tomorrow world with the glow bracelets installed. 
The final result of the mask turned out alright. It survived the flight to Tomorrowworld and being worn at the event. The glow paint needed to be charged and would not last that long. Luckily the light shows from the stages were so bright that a couple bursts of that would charge the mask and it would continue to glow most of the night. Based on what I learned on this adventure of making this mask, I can not move forward with working on my own toy designs and maybe even some cosplay, so stay tuned for more news as I get things made. 

So this trip to Tomorrowworld was also meant to be clay Nori's last adventure before I started development of the design that will go on to be my resin production toy. Sadly due to the mobile networks being overloaded I lost contact with the outside world and my phone was nothing more than a camera. I was able to take some decent shots though, so below check out those TW pictures and stay tuned for more from us at Nori Toy. Clay Nori has traveled all over the world in my pocket since he was made last year, and he may get another few photo ops by the time I am finished with the new Nori design, but he will get a special place on my shelves among my favorite toys. Also check out more pics on our instagram of Nori and Tomorrowworld.

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