3D Printing a Terminator with battle damage!

This build is quite a departure from my earlier efforts primarily due to the fact the bust was made on a 3D printer that I had purchased several months ago. The printer took some time to get running properly (which I won't go into here) but once I was confident that I would finally be getting good results, I printed up a bust that I had downloaded from a site where one can download literally millions of FREE objects to print called Thingaverse. Here's the link: https://www.thingiverse.com/

This great print was created by Masterclip 3D (a psuedonym obviously). You can see more of his work by clicking on this link:


The print took roughly 30 hours (yes, you read it right) with a couple false starts until I figured out what were the best settings to use for Arnold's damaged head. I initially printed out a ½ scale version (you can choose any size you like limited only by the size of your printer) just to see how it looked. The detail was surprisingly good so I decided to print a life size version with the finest print settings I could use which accounts for the amount of time it took to build it.

Realize that the surface will have very slight horizontal grooves or striations due to the method that the printer lays down the plastic filament. Briefly, a continuous plastic filament (about the diameter of a piece of spaghetti) is fed to a very hot extruder which lays down a very fine thread like filament on the bed of the printer. As the extruder (which is actually the printer head) moves about the bed (or the bed beneath it), the layers are slowly built up a fraction of a millimeter at a time. Different settings within the object's “recipe' determine how thick the walls are, how thick the internal bracing may be and so on which will determine how long any given print may take.

Anyway, I decided to print with the finest setting I could manage to minimize the groove effect mentioned earlier. This can be controlled by the nozzle size and filament feed settings so I went with the 'tightest' settings my machine could manage. As it turned out, I STILL had a slight degree of striation but several coats of primer helped to hide this defect without sacrificing the overall detail of the bust.

As far as the painting went. I studied a number of stills from the 1991 film “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” along with pictures of work others had done. I added a bit more carnage with modeling paste around the perimeter of the exposed chrome skull along with a few real bolts. The rear of the bust had a good sized divot in it so I added a small chunk of circuit board I had laying around along with a short piece of multi-strand wire to fill another hole. I had some yak hair kicking around (doesn't everyone?) which I used for the eyebrow on the undamaged side of the head.

Since I decided to light this build, I had to come up with a way to hide the power supply. The bust was essentially hollow (aside from some internal bracing) so it was a relatively simply matter drill out a channel and install a 10mm red LED eye in the exposed side of the skull. I came up with the idea of using five flashlights as a pylon type of support with the central flashlight as the 9 volt power supply. This took a little grinding to get the battery to fit but the main advantage was that I could use the original on/off switch for the flashlight thus saving a wiring step. I mounted the five flashlights on a piece of Masonite which I cut to match the bust's base. The bottom of the whole stand is just a plastic lid from a large jar which is screwed into the flashlights.

Generally speaking, this was a fairly simple build with the paint job being the most work intensive. In terms of overall expense, the total cost of this bust was roughly ten bucks, three of which was the plastic filament, five for the flashlights (a Dollar Store staple) and two for the LED. I already had the acrylic & spray paints so that expense was minimal

  • Getting started

    Here is the bust fresh off the printer. You may notice the three colors which are the result of me using up partial rolls of filament. A two kilo roll or spool runs $20 to $30 depending on the type of material and manufacturer Click once to get a larger image.

  • Base coats

    Very early stages in painting this bad boy. I found that applying multiple layers of primer help to hide the groove effect (see text). Click once to get a larger image.

  • Finished!

    This shot is with the LED eye turned off since it overwhelmed the brightness control on my digital camera. Click once to get a larger image.

  • Close up of the damaged area. I have serious 'keystoning' aberrations with my camera so you get a distorted view of Arnie. His nose isn't really that big. Click once to get a larger image.

  • Silhouette left side. Click once for larger image.

  • Back of head showing the 'divot' detail. I'm not sure if this damage is from the original film or just added by the person who wrote the printer's recipe for this bust.