Print your own BB-8 Droid using these free 3D-printable files

Tomorrow is the big day when Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally opens in theaters worldwide.  As we ramp up to the movie’s big debut, we can’t help but take notice of the awesome Star Wars creations coming out of the maker community.  We’ve already seen a Tie Fighter Drone, an AT-AT in Fallout 4 and a clever lightsaber game from Google. And that’s just a small sampling, the 3D-printing community also has contributed to the Star Wars hype with their collection of memorabilia, including the awesome Kylo Ren helmet we saw last month. The latest creations to make the headlines are these BB-8 Droids models from the BB-8 Builders Club and J.R. Bédard.

As many of you Christmas shoppers know, the most popular maker of the BB-8 Droid is toy robotics company Sphero, which released its official BB-8 Droid earlier this year on Force Friday. You can purchase the fully assembled Droid for $149, but that’s only if you can find it. To make your own BB-8 Droid, you need to look at the work being done by the BB-8 Builders Club, an international group dedicated to building a high-quality replica of the popular Droid and creative maker Jean-René Bédard.

Using their skills to “awaken the force of 3D printing,” the team at the BB-8 Builders Club has been rapidly prototyping their version of the Droid. They are releasing their STL files to the 3D printing community under a Creative Commons license that allows others to print a custom version of the droid. Their efforts have gained the attention of LucasFilm, which has officially recognized the group. They have also been featured on high-profile sites such as starwars.com, Tested, and the Discovery Channel.

Another impressive version of the BB-8 Droid was developed by software engineer Jean-René Bédard. The droid created by Bédard is more than just a pretty plastic shell — it is powered by Arduino and includes self-balancing wheels. The droid has a remote control system that allows the user to move the droid, play Star Wars appropriate sounds and control programmable LEDs. Bédard is still working on his design and hopes to release the 3D-printable STL files and building instructions soon. In the future, he wants to ditch the wheels and create a version of the droid that works more like the movie version. It will use self-orienting magnets to create a rolling body and a stationary head that can be moved left or right.

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