My First 3D Print… In Space!

WPP: “Sam, can you design and print a 3D model of Sir Martin Sorrell?”
Sam: “When do you need it by?”
WPP: “5 days from now.”
Sam: “No way! Forget it.”
WPP: “…It’s going to be sent into space.”
Sam: “Consider it done!”
Sir Martin Sorrell. This version isn’t 3D printed.

How to Rapidly Model and Print a 3D Head for Launch into Space

Step 1: 3D model the head using photos for reference:

3D modeling the head from front and side reference photos.

I use patch grids — it’s old-school, but it’s fast and accurate and gets the job done.

Step 2: Add glasses, subtracting a notch from the head for them to fit as a separate part:

Notch added to hold the glasses in place after they are printed in plastic
The final textured 3D model

Step 3: Print the glasses on an FDM printer in black filament:

Printing the glasses in Chicago

This provides a high level of wire detail and control over placement. Still need to ‘puff them up’ a bit to be printable. Thanks VisMed3D!

Step 4) Hollow-out 3D the model.

It has to be less than 100g for this spaceflight!

Lightening the payload

Be careful! Too much hollowing makes it brittle:

Step 5) Print! The head is printed on a Zcorp ProJet Color composite printer.

Primary print done via Sculpteo in Belgium.

Contingency plan in case of a customs delay: a backup is printed on the only Zcorp Color Sandstone Printer in Athens.

A final print

Thanks, Loukrezis!

The only ZCorp color 3D printer in Athens is behind these metal bars on a quiet residential street.

Step 6) Cast a silicon mold from the 3D print — and fill it with melted chocolate.

It’ll harden in 15 minutes in the freezer.

Not necessary for spaceflight, but certainly takes the edge off if the launch fails and the payload is destroyed.


Step 7) Launch!

Amazing work by James, Adam and company!

We made it!
The sun… surrounded by the blackness of space.

Make sure you choose the right glue. In these extreme conditions, most terrestrial adhesives will fail, sending a pair of 3D printed glasses plummeting toward earth.

Adhesive fail!

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