3D Printed Retro Raygun

Or: Making a Raygun in 42 Easy Steps

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I can’t help it, I just have a thing for rayguns. I got frustrated by not owning one a while ago, and I figured the fastest solution was to make one myself.

I went for a once-slick-retro-future sort of look. My initial idea was to build a gun with lights and buttons and sounds and so on. The design, therefore, was done envisioning how LEDs and switches would fit in it. Rather than make design mistakes on a full-featured item, I chose to build a non-functioning model and make mistakes at it instead.

I sketched dozens of rayguns, wore out some pens, and mocked up a few in clay to get the scale right. Next I CAD’d it in the number prophet. Like practically every design, I had to start over a few times as I figured out how to construct what I wanted. This design had some tough parts for a solid modeling program, especially where the handle transitions into the trigger guard and back into itself. Apparently my Sketching Self had it out for my CADing Self.

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In the end, there were odd artifacts in the model that were easier to fix with body filler than in CAD, so both designing Selves teamed up against my Not Wanting a Fume Headache Self. (Note: the author highly suggests one follow his example and always wear a respirator when working with nasty compounds.)

 

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Yes, that’s spackle. But I ended up going back over it again with Bondo for a smoother finish.

 

I printed the gun in two halves on the smooth glass plate of an Ultimaker 2. Then I glued them together with acrylic cement, which may have worked perfectly for all my memory is worth. If not, then maybe I used superglue? Either way, the PLA printed beautifully without any warp. Under a sunny window, however, Mr. Sunbeam wreaked his uncaring wrath, and there was significant warp. The thin point of the fin split apart and had to be filled in.

 

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After gluing together the two halves, I sanded, Bondo’d, spackled, sanded, primered, sanded, spackled, primered, sanded, primered, spackled, sanded, wept, sanded, etc. until beautiful.

This was my first attempt at realish prop painting and weathering. (I did do a little model painting in college, but it was far less interesting). Getting a shiny, even coat of paint was probably the hardest part of the whole process. One thing I learned (and there were a few) is that dry brushing is awesome. For all the aggravating and tedious parts of the process, dry brushing has an instant satisfaction that was a godsend.

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Since I made it for myself, I worked on it exactly as long as it took to feel done. And I’m pretty proud of the final piece. But I already have a list of methods to try next time, and of ways to make it cooler.

 

 

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Written by Sam