Here you can read about my adventures in making a Mass Effect gun with my makerbot printer. Then trying to duplicate it. It didn't exactly work out.

As I had no model to work with, I made my own. I started just by getting a picture of the "official" gun and tracing it into Inkscape. That gave me this:

line drawing

I then imported it to Blender and started extruding the individual pieces to make them printable on my Makerbot. That gave me something like this:

3d view
Looking good. This became 47 separate pieces I had to print, which took a long, long time. Mostly because I had it split down the middle so each piece had to be printed twice, then glued together. Here's some shots on how it went down.

side view
See, they're glued together. I sprayed some textured paint on the grip, figuring that way I could just paint the copies black, rather then have to spray each and every one. Of course, I knocked the top of the can of spraypaint almost immediately by dropping it, so I got that one use of out it and threw basically a whole can away. Sigh.

The white stuff in the middle is not creamy filling, but craft filler.  Marvelous stuff.
Getting there
And here it is basically assembled and filled in and sanded. Time to make it prototype colored.
shocking pink
Not bad for a thing I started from scratch on. Could be my best work.

And now we come to the molding disaster. I will only show this picture of the horrible, horrible mess I got into. However, I shall describe in detail what went wrong.

The horor that awaits

You can look at the Sword of Omens page to see roughly what I did here. I used the standard method of putting clay in the bottom, and all that jazz. I thought I had pictures of it, honestly, I don't know how I lost them.

Anyway, when I tried to get it out, it had turned into one big block of purple silicon. I sprayed it with the release stuff, but maybe I didn't use enough, or I let it dry or just underestimated the force needed- I ended up sawing it apart, basically. It would have almost worked too, if I hadn't further messed it up later. Long story short, only half the thing was any good so the best I could do was half a gun. The other half looked melted.

see what I mean

See what I mean?

So I decided to not go the whole clay route this time, and try something very different. It mostly worked. The normal way is to do the top first by blocking off the bottom with clay. Then you flip it over and take the clay out, leaving the other side, which you then fill in. I decided to do it the opposite way.

First I traced out the size of the gun on a piece of wood.


Then I put nails in key points where the gun would rest. My mistake here was making them too high. I should have pounded them in a little more. This was a mistake because the block I ended up with was thicker then the original one, and wouldn't fit into the clamps. I had to buy some long bolts, get two pieces of wood, and bolt them together to make the copies. Anyway, nails.

it's just resting

But I did have the presence of mind to fill in the bottom with waste silicon from the old messed up one.

taped and on a bed

Then I poured some in.

liquid love

Those of you thinking "it'll never work" have probably done this sort of thing before. I now realize why- air bubbles. They will get trapped under the thing. Whoops. You will also see the white clay I used to block off certain portions that were troublesome with the old mold.

Doing it again, I would pour the silicone in at an angle, very slowly. Let the bubbles work out, then tip the whole box back. That should keep them from getting trapped, right? I mean it worked, but it could have looked better. Anyway, onward.

To make the registration points I used marbles. I let it harden for about an hour, then stuck them in.

marbles in

This worked fantastically.
When it was totally hard I popped them out.


Then it was time to cover the whole darn thing again. It's so shiny because of the release agent I used.

in carbonite

I was taking no chances with the release agent this time. I used a lot. Like, way more then I should have needed. To be sure. It still took a lot of effort to peel apart, and not bust the model up. I was surprised, but at least it released that time.

Once the top was hard, I flipped it over and got the nails out of it.

nail holes

Poured a little more to seal up the holes, and let that harden as well.

blob on top



I did do some cleanup work to the other side where the larger holes where. I just rubbed some liquid stuff into the holes and smoothed them out. It worked. Again, see above for better ideas.

Then I poured in the stuff to make the copy, and what do you know?


TADA. It came out okay. Then I painted it.


Way too much money later, I had a somewhat passable imitation of a thing that doesn't really exist. I might even be able to make more.

Not as good as... well, any of the others I've seen, but I did it on my own.

Learn from my mistakes!