3-D printers have come a long way since 1995 when MIT students Jim Bredt and Tim Anderson, modified an inkjet printer so that it extruded a binding solution onto a bed of powder, instead of ink on paper. Today, printed prototypes are used for things ranging from construction projects to Pixar characters and now it seems, even Agent 007 has discovered them!
Like all James Bond movies, Skyfall, the biggest grosser of the franchise yet, has a number of beautiful cars that get pretty beaten up during the non-stop exciting pursuits the agent is always on. However, the destruction of one is particularly heart breaking (mini spoiler alert ahead)!
That car happens to be James Bond's personal vehicle, a gorgeous but rare 960 Aston Martin that was last featured in the 1964 James Bond thriller 'Goldfinger'. And, as you would expect, this one too was blown up during a particularly explosive scene. But take heart - The director did not throw all caution to the wind and destroy the precious vehicle. Instead, he just had the detailed replicas 'printed' with a super advanced 3-D printing machine!
The brilliant reproduction of the 960 Aston Martin was the result of a collaboration between British movie prop experts Propshop Modelmakers Ltd. and Germany's Voxeljet that specializes in large-scale 3-D printing.
While the easiest solution would have been to print the sports car in one piece, that was not good enough for a movie of this caliber. The director wanted the models to be as true to the real deal as possible and therefore requested that they be created almost like a real car - which in this case involved creating and assembling 18 individual components.
To get the printing process started Voxeljet first sketched the detailed design of the car on the computer using special software. Then began the painstaking printing process - whereby layer after layer of particle material were printed and glued on to each other. In this manner they 'built' a 3-D version of each part - From mudguards to doors to hoods and roofs. Since the film required 3 printed models, they had to create a total of 54 (18 per car). After that they carefully packaged and shipped them to the model makers at Propshop, who meticulously put each car together and then painted them the exact color of the original.
At the end of it all, the replicas looked so realistic that the only way they could be distinguished from the real car, was the fact that they were just 1/3 the size - Of course, this was not apparent at all in the movie.
The directors could have also accomplished a similar feat by building plastic models of the car. But printing is much faster, more accurate and most importantly, much more economical to use - And things can only get better!