Progress Report: Secretive Club Designing, 3D Printing a Full-Size BB-8

Donald Bell

I make stuff, play music, and sometimes make stuff that plays music. Donut enthusiast. Let's talk about Arduino, BEAM robotics, skateboarding, Buckminster Fuller, art bots and blinking lights.

64 Articles

By Donald Bell

I make stuff, play music, and sometimes make stuff that plays music. Donut enthusiast. Let's talk about Arduino, BEAM robotics, skateboarding, Buckminster Fuller, art bots and blinking lights.

64 Articles

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BB-8 3D Printed Parts

Photo by Isabella ‘Izzy’ Von Lichtan.

We’re still two months away from the official release of the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie, and already there are a number of BB-8 robot toys that fans can pick up. But for the truly diehard droid lovers, there’s no substitution for having a full-size BB-8 replica by your side, perhaps even sitting next to you at the movie premier. Thanks to the incredible efforts of the BB-8 Builders Club Facebook group, Maker-minded Star Wars fans have been 3D printing their own full-size BB-8 (or at least the friendly droid’s adorable dome).

A photo posted by Nick Bishop (@tk6273) on

The group has created a private, downloadable repository of all the files needed to print and assemble a full-scale BB-8, including both the dome and more recently, the body. It is a private group, so I’m probably ruining the party by even mentioning their existence, but you can see some of the results posted publicly, often tagged with #notbuildingbb8 (a running joke on the secretive, sometimes reluctant, but ultimately inevitable impulse to build one’s own BB-8).

While the plans do not tackle the complexities of creating an internally motorized replica (though there are many working on that project as well) the STL files, instructions, and FAQ, created by builders club are enough to get you closer to owning your own BB-8 replica. It does, however, offer instructions for animating BB-8’s large eye with a set of six red LEDs, giving the full-size model a little life.

As many of you know, 3D printing isn’t a fast process, especially when it comes to large parts. The club estimates that it takes approximately 60 hours to print all of the parts necessary for BB-8. Assembling, painting, and weathering the dome requires around 12 hours of your weekend. For a non-member peek at the build experience, follow Micke Askernäs’ Building R2-D2 blog.

A photo posted by Nick Bishop (@tk6273) on

It’s not a beginner project by any stretch of the imagination, but if you’ve got Jedi-level printing and model-assembly skills, there’s still enough time to get one done in time for Episode VII. May the force be with you.