BD-1: printing

3D printing pieces of a BD-1 Star Wars droid on an Ender 3 v2

I've been thinking about model building for a while.

I'm very into the aesthetics of Star Wars. I've actually had a model kit for a U-Wing at home for an embarrassingly long time. When I finally opened it up, I discovered it's not much of a build project – it's very simple and looks like it'll only take 30 minutes or so to put together.

The problem is, it came pre-painted, and it's just too clean. Star Wars ships just shouldn't be clean.

So it's a painting project. Trouble is, I'm not a very experienced painter, and it's an intimidating project, working at that scale.

I might have a perfectionist streak to get over here.

But I've been thinking that I need something else to build my skills; perhaps something a bit bigger or more forgiving.

Which brings me to BD-1. I picked up a Ender 3 v2 earlier this year, and I've been idly looking at different models I could print and build. A few weeks back, I decided to pull the trigger on this BD-1 model from FationP3D on Etsy.

Screenshot from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, with droid BD-1 looking at the game's protagonist.
BD-1, as he appeared in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Maybe I'm crazy, but painting something that I've 3D printed somehow lowers the pressure – like, if I royally screw something up, worst-case I can just re-print a part. And there's just lots of great detail there to play with.

Concept painting of BD-1 by artist Jordan Lamarre-Wan
BD-1 concept art by Jordan Lamarre-Wan

The model consists of 37 unique .stl files, several of which are duplicated 2x or 4x. I laid out the files into a series of 10 prints to minimize the number of resets between prints.

3D models laid out in Ultimaker-Cura

And then I started printing, and printing, and printing.

Huh. I guess this guy is going to be life-size.

In the end, I ran the printer more or less around-the-clock for just over 3 weeks, printing 11 total setups and going through about a full spindle of PLA filament.

Mercifully few print failures. When printing the biggest piece, the main section of BD's head, I was quite worried that I'd run out of filament mid-print, but the 4+ day print finished successfully with a little left on the spindle. At one point I killed the power to the printer by tripping the breaker (3D printer, space heater, and shop vac on the same circuit), and although the printer was able to resume the print when I restored power, it ran for another 24 hours but eventually stopped without properly finishing the print. And then there was this spectacular failure:

A failed 3D print, where layers became misaligned and there's lots of stray filament all over.

I need to spend some time sorting out the pieces now, and I've got some supports to trim off a few pieces. My original plan was to simply print and paint, but my friend Jamie has raised my ambitions and now has me thinking about some electronics as well.

So, some cleanup and knolling next, I think. Lots of painting, but I've got some infrastructure work to do to enable that. And we'll see where it takes me; I expect to be at this for a little while.