Sometimes you see a 3D-printed item so jaw-droppingly awesome that it reminds you all over again of just how astonishing an invention additive manufacturing is.
That perfectly describes our reaction to the mind-blowing 3D-printed art that is Lumecluster fantasy designer Melissa Ng’s “Sovereign Armor.” Having previously dazzled with her 3D-printed Regalia Armor, Ng told Digital Trends that she wanted to take on an even more ambitious project: one that featured 91 separate 3D-printed pieces and included embedded LED lights to make it look like the wearer of the armor is literally glowing.
“I was very intrigued by the heated debates between fantasy lovers and historical armor enthusiasts,” she says. In particular, Ng was interested in challenging the idea of what female armor “should” look like. “I wanted to throw my interpretation into the mix to help show that women can look strong, powerful, ethereal [and] beautiful without always simply defaulting to the bikini ‘armor,’” she said.
The work took over 500 hours to develop, which doesn’t include the time spent doing the actual 3D printing. Hours were racked up consulting with historical armor expert Ian LaSpina (Knyght Errant), testing new flexible 3D-printing materials and finishing methods, and making sure everything fitted perfectly — because when you’re creating an item as customized and time-consuming as this it’s not as straightforward as returning it to the store if it doesn’t fit perfectly at the end.
Measurements for the armor were taken manually and then entered into customizable figure program Design Doll, designed with Blender, before the resulting 3D model was sent off to 3D-printing service Shapeways to painstakingly print each piece using an elasto plastic. A lengthy post-production process followed, involving hand-painting the individual pieces.
“The biggest hurdle was researching medieval armor and giving myself a crash course on armor functionality,” Ng says. “Keep in mind I was also designing everything in a digital space so I didn’t have anything physically in front of me to check if what I was designing would seamlessly work together or not. This was also a one-shot 3D print. No reprints.”
Fortunately things couldn’t have turned out any better. And as for what’s up Ng’s 3D-printed sleeve next? “I’ve been playing with some ideas for something more impact resistant,” she says. “You’ll just have to wait and see.”