This is not the first time we’ve seen 3D printing take cosplay to the next level, but it is easily one of the most impressive projects we’ve ever seen. Aaron Warbinek, a Vancouver-based teacher and Star Wars enthusiast, has painstakingly created a wearable, fully functional Darth Vader suit and helmet. The suit, which is now seeking funding on Kickstarter, will take you straight to the dark side.
The project itself is unique in its scope. That is, Warbinek isn’t setting out to sell the finished suit for cosplay purposes. Rather, he is hoping to demonstrate how advanced manufacturing—including 3D printing—can be pushed to the limits to create functional, electronic-embedded wearables. As a teacher, Warbinek wants to show people and instruct them on how they too can leverage cutting-edge (yet still accessible) technologies to create their own suits.
“The project is built around education,” he says. “The main goal is to create a set of instruction and videos outlining the entire process of construction. From printing the parts, sewing the clothing, wiring the electronics and putting it all together. Once completed I will release a package with the 3D printing files and instructions for building the suit.”
In other words, Warbinek is using the Kickstarter to raise funds to make four new Darth Vader suits, which will enable him to create detailed video tutorials and instructions to release to his backers. Each of the four suits can also be reserved by a backer option worth CAD$12,000 (roughly $9,060). If no one claims the big reward, he will randomly select four backers to receive a suit each.
For that price, we’re not talking about just any cosplay. The Darth Vader suit is—from top to bottom—a multi-function, fully wearable ensemble. The suit integrates custom electronics that cause it to light up, play sounds and music, as well as a cooling system in the helmet for the user’s comfort, and a built-in voice changer.
“The suit is not movie accurate and is not meant to be,” adds Warbinek. “The goal is to take a familiar character and push the limits in detail using the future of manufacturing. Everything is designed and modeled by me. All the parts are designed around it being wearable, comfortable and to fit the technology that makes the suit possible.
The Darth Vader suit reportedly took the maker over a year to complete and involved extensive prototyping. Relying on 3D CAD software, 3D printing, sewing and wiring, the impressive suit slowly came together over time. According to Warbinek, the full suit prototype is made entirely of 3D printed components, save for the fabric, electronics, lenses and finishing paint.
What 3D printer did Warbinek use? Well, there’s actually quite an interesting answer to that: he used 3D printers that he built.
“I am currently working on a next-gen 3D printer,” he explains. “I have designed and made two already. They were used to make this suit and are more of a beefed up consumer type of printer, which is why I made this suit to be printed on almost any consumer model available today…this suit is sort of a test to see where we are and what needs to be changes in the way 3D printers work.”
Today, the Darth Vader suit Kickstarter campaign is seeking CAD$60,000 in funding so that Warbinek can purchase the materials and cover other expenses related to building the next four suits and releasing a DIY instructional package. To date, the crowdfunding campaign has raised just over $450 and has 56 days left to go. You can learn more about the project and check out backer rewards here.