3D Printing Props and Special Effects with Zortrax


One of the most magical things about movies like Star Wars (the originals) and TV shows like Stranger Things is the practical effects used. Whether it’s a Millennium Falcon or an eye ball, practical special effects have character in abundance.

Sweden-based FIXAS, a props and special effects company for film and TV production, agrees. For Niklas Hermannson, one of the company founders, it was the special effects in Jurassic Park (1993) that made him want to be a visual artist. FIXAS is the fruit of that dream, a successful special effects company that recently adopted 3D printing as a means to manufacture props (they also use CNC routing, 3Dmilling, vinylplotting, lasercutting.)

3D printing with the Zortrax M200 (now succeeded by the M200 Plus) has allowed the team to save a lot of time and effort making special effects. Prop making is an artform that traditionally requires an experienced hand to get the job done. 3D printing doesn’t replace that person – that person’s expertise is required to create the design. 3D printing steps in simply to manufacture the prop, and it’s highly efficient, not to mention cost-effective.


On this, Niklas Hermannson said, “The amount of time that was saved doing prep work and designing is the biggest advantage of 3D printing technology. Zortrax materials also work great as protective cover for animatronic components. Thanks to the covers 3D-printed with Z-ULTRAT, the components are safe from any sweat and moisture.”

The first prop the team 3D printed was a headset for a virtual reality short film. They printed their own headset to incorporate the VR gear using the M200 and Z-ULTRAT, a versatile and durable material that lets you prototype models with features of products manufactured using injection molding. The components were large so were printed in sections. The M200 got the job done without fuss, giving the team confidence to try more.

The most complex prop production run the team have utilised 3D printing for to date was for a German TV commercial. They were contracted to manufacture a Panda mascot – a full-size costume for a human. They 3D printed the Panda head and the panda hands, using a 3D scanner for assistance in the design process. 3D printing helped simplify the manufacturing process and shorten production time. It was as simple as pressing print.


3D printing also gives the team simplicity in post-production. Printing with Z-ULTRAT, it is rare for sanding or smoothing to be needed. Sometimes the team just paint the parts, and it’s job done. “Sometimes, we drill a hole in the model and fill it with plastic, if we need to make the prop heavier and more realistic on screen in terms of physics and how it is being used by the actors.” says Niklas, who sees 3D printing as an extremely worthwhile investment.

3D Printer: Zortrax M200 (now succeeded by the M200 Plus)

Material used: Z-ULTRAT

This information was first published on the Zortrax website. You can find out more about FIXAS at the official website.