3D Printers

Legacy Effects 3D Prints Alien Suit for USA's “Colony”

Whether they’re printing the suit for RoboCop or creating special effects prototypes for Terminator Genisys with Carbon’s CLIP technology, Legacy Effects Studio uses 3D printing technology to bring the unfathomable to life like no other. Now, the studio has just announced their latest feat in 3D printing for the USA Network’s new sci-fi drama, Colony. The show producers came to Legacy Effects in need of an tech-smart exoskeleton, which would later become the mysterious alien creature featured in the season one finale of the show.


Instead of using casting and molding techniques, or even turning to an industrial 3D printer, the Legacy Effects team created the exoskeleton on a MakerBot Replicator Z18, the brand’s large-scale, $6,499 model. With a build volume of 30 x 30.5 x 45.7cm, the special effects team was able to create a life-sized exoskeleton in just two weeks. The main contributor from the Legacy Effects Studio was the Lead System Engineer, and also 3D printing enthusiast and long-time MakerBot user, Jason Lopes. Lopes had realized that the Z18 would not only provide a large build volume, but also offers affordable materials and remote monitoring, making the large-scale MakerBot printer the best solution available.


“3D printing has become more accessible for artists and designers over the last couple of years and the technology has matured both in terms of reliability and functionality,” said Jonathan Jaglom, CEO of MakerBot. “That’s why we’re seeing more and more professionals embrace 3D printing to help them realize their ideas in a way that is fast and affordable. In fact, it would have cost tens of thousands of dollars to design, prototype and eventually build the Colony alien suit using traditional manufacturing methods.”

The amount of money saved by using the Z18 was exactly what the Colony producers were seeking with their tight budget, while Legacy Effects was still able to provide the high-quality special effects necessitated by Hollywood standards. After the print was complete, the exoskeleton required painting, polishing, and some minor touch-ups. The team then equipped the 3D print with electronics, a visor, and various fabric attachments.

The MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D printer

One of the most critical features of the MakerBot printer, according to Lopes, was the ability to monitor the prints with the MakerBot Mobile app. Legacy Effects is constantly juggling a wide-range of 3D printing projects, so it’s extremely cost-effective for the team to be able to know exactly when a print is complete.. The mysterious 3D printed alien-like exoskeleton certainly caused viewers a lot of excitement during the season finale of Colony, and MakerBot CEO Jaglom seems to share that same excitement for the method chosen by the Legacy Effects Studio team. “It’s exciting to see how 3D printing is transforming the creative process at special effects studios like Legacy Effects,”  Jaglom said.