3D Printing In Movies And Animations

3D Printing in Movies and Animation: How Hollywood is Using 3D Printers

3D printing was invented to give 3D models a solid shape, and today it has transformed the manufacturing industry. It has helped the production sector across different fields of engineering, health, industry, and much more. The entertainment industry has also integrated 3D printing into the creation of props, costumes, and sets. Furthermore, in the field of stop motion animation, 3D printed have been included as well. 3D printing in movies and animation has really taken off in the past few years.

Movie franchises such as Guardians of the Galaxy require a wide array of props and costumes instead of traditional model creation approaches. 3D printing can help moviemakers achieve unprecedented quality and realism. This is all behind the scenes, made possible with 3D printing, allowing directors to bring their scripts to life on the screen. Amazingly, some of the best films ever made have been made possible by 3D printing. 3D printing in cinema and animation have enabled the movie and series creators to introduce unique items in their films.

Starlord – Guardians of the Galaxy


Practical effects creators, props, and costume experts are behind the creation of most of the double-edged axles, sweeper dresses, and cars that explode in film and television. Although many of these things are now produced digitally, they cannot replicate the realism of practical effects.

CGI has reached a very compelling level of detail, but a lot of directors and audiences still prefer the realism of practical effects. Until recently, most practical effects were handcrafted, making use of clay, foam, plaster, wires, wood, fabric, and creatively constructed consumer goods. Today, these designers are also using 3D printing to create many accessories, makeup effects, and props.


There are many definite advantages of the use of 3D printing in the movie and television industry. Here are some of the benefits of 3D printing:

  • More Affordable: Handmade accessories involve the usage of a variety of different materials. Each of these materials produces waste, and the work involved in their production is costly. The same accessory can be 3D printed with only one material and with little to no waste.
  • Faster Turnaround Time: Whereas manually creating accessories can take days or even weeks, 3D printing can get the same job done in mere hours.
  • Consistency: In the conventional approaches, high-quality versions are used for close-ups. Lower quality versions are used for backgrounds and stunt scenes. With 3D printing, any copy can be made to high quality in less time and budget.
  • Strength: Handmade accessories are sometimes quite fragile; 3D printed TPU and nylon props are strong enough to resist twisting. It is also easy to print another item in the event of damage.
  • Licensed Replica Creation: Production companies have to order redesigned toys and figures as replica models for resale or mass production, but with 3D printing, copies of the same props can be sold as in the film. Replicas of authentic and exact props used on the sets can be 3D printed. Additionally, handmade props can also be scanned, and easily 3D printed as well.


Science fiction and fantasy objects are some of the most commonly 3D printed things in Hollywood today. The creators of 'Game of Thrones' used 3D printing to make most of their masks, armor, jewelry, and armaments. They specialize in lightweight, realistic accessories that are popular on the big screen and are more reasonably priced than the assets created by digital effects designers. In some scenes, the makers even abandoned the digital assets and used giant 3D printed dragons.


The movie "Jurassic World" took a similar approach by 3D printing the remains of dinosaurs. Archaeologists and creators worked jointly to produce the skeletons of different dinosaur species to life, giving them hyper-realistic textures but also incorporating details that indicated their age and gender. They used 3D scans of real dinosaur fossils to reconstruct the 3D printed props. In Marvel'sMarvel's ''Black Panther'', the 3D printed props and costumes were essential in creating a sci-fi Afrofuturistic aesthetic. Designers added 3D printed accessories like crowns and necklaces to outfits that would have taken a lot of time to sew and mold. The director worked with Julia Conner, an expert in 3D printed fashion. Her contributions helped the film's costume designer, Ruth E. Carter, win an Oscar, allowing Corner to use Angela Bassett'sBassett's exact measurements to create a model of the headband used by Queen Ramonda in the film.

This was not the only time Marvel used 3D printing. The "Iron Man" armor used in several movies of the franchise was 3D printed. In order to get the ideal fit, the model designers 3D scanned Robert Downey Jr.'s body. Over time, more and more 3D prints were made into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with other examples such as "Captain America" and "Thor." Hela's incredible costume from Thor: Ragnarok was also 3D printed. Especially the pieces for the helmet were created using SLS 3D printing with carbon fiber material.


Stop motion is primarily a physical effect, especially using puppets that can be customized and make different poses. It requires careful placement of objects that budge incrementally with each frame of motion. In this way, 3D printing allows you to create as much variation in facial expressions, characters, and props as possible, making the animation more fluid.


Overall, 3D printing can serve as a viable alternative to traditional approaches of props and costume creation. 3D printing for movies and animation can help the designers create products in allowed less time, quickly, and more efficiently. Furthermore, using 3D printing to create complex models is much more comfortable, and the cost of production is significantly less. 3D printing is going to play a huge part when it comes to costume and prop creation for movies and TV shows.

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