The Designer, The Droid and Star Wars

Jason08 editedGinkgo3D’s Designer-For-Hire Jason Loo is a guy in a hurry. After spending more than 500 hours printing 3D parts – and countless hours in designing, researching and post-processing – he has built a life-sized BB-8 droid, a new character from the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now, to complete his masterpiece, Jason is waiting for parts to arrive from America that will enable the droid to move.

It all began when he was nine, when he saw his first Star Wars movie on the big screen, Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The world of Science Fiction and Fantasy, special effects and movie magic had taken a hold of him ever since. To the young boy, the experience was like a dream, and he has tried to re-create the props, costumes and magic of that experience wherever he could.

Falling in Love

Studying Industrial Design helped the young man achieve some of his goals and he followed this up by joining MightyJaxx, a local toy company to develop his skills further. Watching the first trailer for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, he was struck by the droid BB-8 onscreen and decided to build one just like it. “When I saw the BB-8 rolling onstage in the Star Wars Celebration 2015 video,” says Jason “I fell in love with the droid instantly.”

Printed of ABS plastic, the droid parts are carefully sanded, painted and aged before assembly.

Printed of ABS plastic, the droid parts are carefully sanded, painted and aged before assembly.

He discovered some enthusiasts recreating a mini version of the droid by hacking a Sphero and decided to do likewise. Halfway through the project, he was dismayed to learn that Disney was releasing the Sphero as a toy for sale. But his spirits revived when he came across the BB8BuildersClub, a community of Star Wars fans and makers who were sharing files to build the full-scale BB-8. With the open source files and his own Zortax M200 printer, Jason continued with his quest.

A Magical Moment

Using parts printed of ABS (acrylonitrite butadiene styrene) plastic and LED lights connected to an arduino microcontroller, Jason fitted, sanded, smoothed and sprayed through more than 500 hours of production, with all the attendant ups and downs. Did the frustration sometimes get the better of him? “Not really,” he says, flashing a big grin, “it was incredibly fulfilling to see the 3D printed parts coming out one at a time.

“The most glorious moment was when I pieced all the parts together, and seeing a full scale BB-8 right in front of me before I went to bed. It was, well… magical!”

As Singapore ramps up the excitement to the grand premiere of Star Wars Episode VII, Jason is spending his Saturday afternoons at Changi Airport, showing off his creation with the life-sized X-Wing fighter replica on display in Terminal 3. At night, he continues his task to refine and make the BB-8 mobile by the opening date, waiting impatiently for his parts to arrive from the US.

Will this crazy designer make his droid move in Singapore by December 17, one day before the movie’s theatrical run in the US? We think so. The Force is strong with this one, Obi-Wan. We believe he will succeed.

As Jason finishes his pet project, he is already looking forward to new design challenges for the future.

Editor’s Note: Jason is one of Ginkgo3D’s Designers-For-Hire. If you are lucky, you may just be able to get him to design something for you. Check him out at www.ginkgo3d.com/page/hire

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