I guess even Hollywood is suffering from hard economic times, if the closing of several special effects companies is any indication. Apparently, the competition is extremely high due to the fact that thousands of entry-level people have access to very cheap, very high-end technology to break into the business. Consequently, some effects companies are seeking other ways to capitalize on their digital expertise—by inventing new ways to make physical props.
Enter — 3D printing. Weta Workshop, the company made famous by the special effects for The Lord of the Rings movies, is leading the way in using 3-D printing to create props and set pieces for The Hobbit trilogy. For LOTR, Weta made most of its props by hand. Now, they’ve gone from virtually hand-making everything to utilizing 3-D modeling and manufacturing on most of their work.
Legacy Effects, which designed and developed the armor costume for Iron Man, found additional use for the digital 3D model for lighting models and CGI. Legacy Effects currently keeps three 3-D printers busy.