An Interview with the Team That Helped 'Mythbusters' Adam Savage Build an Iron Man Suit
Whether it was through the comics or during Robert Downey Jr.'s run as Iron Man in the Marvel cinematic universe, there's a good chance that at some point, you wanted to own or create your own Iron Man suit.
Tony Stark's collection of highly adaptable armors have become just as iconic as the anti-hero himself. Though we have already discussed that, we are still years away from creating something like Stark's sleek Bleeding Edge armor; the Mark II may be something a little more feasible.
Who better to try building it than Adam Savage?
Known for his creative, informative and often funny experiments on MythBusters, Adam Savage brings to life a wearable, flying, and bulletproof Iron Man suit for his new show, Savage Builds on the Science Channel.
The suit itself looks like the love-child of the Mark I and Mark II and was constructed using the power of 3D printing technology.
Savage Builds is a new eight-episode series, in which Adam Savage puts "his unending curiosity and nearly unparalleled inventiveness to the test" by taking on fantastic projects and experiments using the modern tech landscape.
Each episode focuses on one project as Adam collaborates with notable experts in their fields, friends, colleagues, and some of his favorite people on the planet.
For the premiere episode, Savage worked alongside Colorado School of Mines and EOS, a leading 3-D printing company, to actually print the titanium wearable armor.
We sat down with Ankit Saharan, Manager R&D/Applications Development at EOS, to gain further insight into how the Iron Man Suit came into fruition.
You make an appearance on Adam Savage’s Savage Builds on the Science Channel. How did you get involved with the show?
We were fortunate to have Craig Brice, Professor of Practice in Mechanical Engineering, from the Colorado School of Mines reach out to us directly. He asked if we were able to help produce the components for the Iron Man suit, and we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work on such an iconic project.
Craig was originally planning to do this project on their recently installed EOS M 270 machine donated to them by Moog. However, this machine did not have the capability to process titanium, and he asked us for a solution. He explained the concept, and I agreed this was something EOS was very interested in, as this would afford us an opportunity to showcase EOS to a broader audience.
It was an aggressive timeline, but our team still jumped at the opportunity.
During the premiere episode of Savage Builds, you go on to help Adam create every Marvel fan’s ultimate dream weapon, the Iron Man Suit. Without giving too much away, what tools and expertise were called on to create the suit? And, and what were the biggest challenges?
We worked closely with Craig and his team each step of the way. For our part of the project, we used the EOS M 400-4, which is an industrial four laser metal 3D printer used for the production of high-quality applications.
We used a material call Ti64 which is a strong, lightweight material, and our flagship EOS M 400-4, that enabled us to meet the aggressive timeline of manufacturing more than 300 pieces in six weeks. This timeline also included time for redesign and rebuild, which was incredible.
The machine production capacity enabled us to build more parts with repeatability and quality. Part of the production of hundreds of parts included providing our industry knowledge, to help in stress-relieving parts, providing suggested design changes, and setting-up production builds including support structure optimization to make it easier for Craig’s team to finish the part.
The end result was that more than 300 titanium parts were needed to help Iron Man come to life.
What excites you about 3D printing technology?
Imagine having an idea, but not the means to make it a reality because, in part, you are relying on manufacturing techniques that have existed for hundreds of years – rendering your ideas too expensive, too time-consuming, or literally impossible due to complexity.
Industrial 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is an entirely new manufacturing technology that has the power to bring previously unimaginable ideas to reality in a sustainable manner.
A show like Savage Builds is not only highly entertaining, but it spotlights how fiction is starting to become a reality. With additive manufacturing, we have seen organizations transform, lives change, and entirely new business models sprout up.
Whether it is individualized medical implants, space satellites, or lightweight aircraft components – the future of manufacturing has arrived. It is empowering humans to grow their idea in a highly sustainable manner.
Tell us about EOS. What other projects in the past at EOS blew your mind?
Whether electric cars, consumer goods, rockets, and satellites, or medical breakthroughs, there is not a week that goes by that we are not blown away by incredible applications that users of our technology are developing.
Suffice to say, we cannot talk about most of these projects, but we can say that nearly all the exciting or cool ideas you see in the media these days could very well have parts produced with EOS technology.
Are there any other projects on Savage Builds that you are involved in? Or do you have projects that you are extremely excited about?
We’re always up for the next challenge and new projects that spotlight the incredible power and realize the potential of industrial 3D printing! Adam, please call when ready!
How will 3D printing change the creative and engineering process for inventors and creators as the technology becomes more accessible in the next 5-10 years?
Additive manufacturing is a sustainable innovation that is core to EOS. 3D printing cuts-down on development time, can nearly eliminate scrap, and create significantly more efficient functional designs.
As our technology matures – bigger, faster, more materials – the one thing that will make a key difference is education and awareness on how this technology can be used.
This is the key to the future of this technology as we can inspire a lot of minds to break out of conventional ideas and mindsets, think how to design the parts additively, and think how we can create something by adding instead of subtracting. This is how nature creates and designs, and there is no better teacher than nature.
For more amazing projects, be sure to check out Savage Builds on the Science Channel!