I have been really excited to write this post for a very long time, and it’s been an incredible 9 month journey to get here. Of course I would not be here without the awesome team at IC3D Printers for being willing to hear out my insane idea and having the confidence in me to realize this dream build.
So an enormous amount of thanks and gratitude goes to them for sponsoring the filament that made this armor possible.
This build log will hopefully shed some light on the methods and work that went into fabricating the T-60 power armor.
I’ve been pretty much in love with this set of armor since I got the game. And I always had the intention of building a set of power armor from Fallout especially after I have built a full set of space marine armor from warhammer 40k.
So somewhere in the planning process I decided I wanted to 3d print the armor–mainly since at the time there were many 3d printed weapons and props but very few actual sets of armor printed and out in the wild. And course I wanted to change that as I saw no reason that sets of cosplay armor could not be 3d printed and worn like foam or various other thermoplastics.
The 3d model
I’m incredibly fortunate that Bethesda Softworks makes it very easy to extract mesh models from their game archive files to help support and nurture the modding community. Since I personally don’t have have a copy of the game on PC I had to rely on a friend who would prefer to remain nameless to extract the file for me. However Maker’s Muse providees an excellent guide on how to do this:
Once I converted the mesh into a OBJ file this was what I had to start with.
As you can see, it’s not very pretty. Nor is it very printable. To make the armor printable and more accurate to the actual game we would have to do some modeling work with a variety of tools.
First of course, I had to scale the model and all the parts to the correct size. And I unfortunately only had one dimension to work with: Height. Having scoured the internet and various fallout resources smarter minds than I had determined that based on live action wanderer trailer and the game that the height of the power armor was approximate 7′ 6″ tall. So I used this as my starting point as I went about resizing the set.
Once the size seemed correct my next challenge is that the “walls” of the entire armor set were paper thin and completely unprintable. To fix this problem, I used two tools. First I used Netfabb to run a simple repair diagnostic that allowed me make the 3d models complete solid and eliminate any small hard to see gaps. Then I exported it all over to meshmixer where I used a few useful tools to generate solid walls of a thickness of my choosing (3mm -6mm depending on the part).
Finally, the files were printable but still very rough looking. To make them smooth I used several tools in blender to make the armor parts smooth while still defining certain edges to remain. The end result was parts that looked like this:
Now that I had finished making all the models printable it was time get my 3d printer churning out carefully arranged problem. Of course all the models were massive and needed to be chopped up to fit the print bed. To do this I used netfabb again to plane cut all of the models to fit. Which resulted in about 424 unique pieces to print and print beds that looked like this:
An so began the great printing adventure.
My print settings were as follows:
Layer height: .3mm-.45mm
Filament type: PLA
Perimeters: 3-5 (depending on part)
All the parts were thermally welded together with a soldering iron and spare filament. I found this method to result in the strongest possible bonds between parts.
Even with so much printing, I still needed a frame to hold the parts together. So I set about to cutting and assembling a PVC pipe frame.
I originally wanted everything to strap on with nylon webbing but I later discovered that zip ties were an efficient and sturdy way to hold the armor together.
As many of the parts came together I started to fill in my prints first with drywall spackle–affordable and non toxic alternative to bondo filler. Then as the armor plating got smoother and smoother with successive sanding and filling cycles, swapped over to sandable filler primer and wetsanded all the plates down with higher grit sand papers.
In addition to the frame I also had do to fabricate lifts that would put my joints at their respective correct heights to do this I used pink insulation foam and sintra brackets. The result is a lightweight yet highly stable 15″ platform lift that I could mount my feet to.