Interview Russell Bobbitt: an Expert User of 3D Printing.

An Interview with Russell Bobbitt, 3D Printing Hollywood Props Master

Posted By on Feb 6, 2012 |

We had the chance to meet and interview Russell Bobbitt, Hollywood Property Master for 27 years and expert user of 3D printing. He has created movie props for some of the biggest and most successful movie productions of all time such as Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, The Hangover or Cowboys and Aliens. He’s the one behind the iconic Robert Downey Jr.’s luminous chest piece, the “RT” in Iron Man or Daniel Craig’s alien wrist weapon in Cowboy and Aliens.

He gave us a virtual visit of his Los Angeles studio on a sunday morning (while it was snowing in Paris). He showed us some of the master pieces he conceived with his team and shared with us great 3D printing stories.

Russell has been working with 3D printing for a long time. He went from the long manufacturing process (2D drawing, sculpture, molding and casting) to the shorter and flexible additive manufacturing process (drawing, CAD, printing). It fitted better his needs, as he usually needs really fast manufacturing. On Star Trek, for example, he only had one night to produce some of the main pieces.

3D printing makes also sense for him as a way to reduce the general cost of the production. Most of money and conception time is spend for the team of graphic designers doing the 2D drawing. 3D printing comes at the very last and it usually takes only one printing per item.

After all these years using 3D printing, Russell acquired a unique expertise with 3D printers. His team has “learned the personnality of the machines”. Not all 3D printers react the same way to the drawings and it requires a great expertise to choose the right machine at the right time. That’s what we do at Sculpteo.

Additive manufacturing has been used in most of the movies he worked on. Cowboy and Aliens‘ weaponery, Thor‘s wristbands and swords, Star Trek‘s SciFi pieces or Iron Man‘s key items. For all of them, a lot of clean-up is necessary. Painting plays a key role to make the objects look incredible.

Mr. Bobbitt is an inventor. He “makes things that don’t exist in the world”. Additive manufacturing gave him even more freedom to push the boundaries of creativity and propose amazing props. “I think of things all the time”, he told us. And 3D printing is here to make it real!

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