Even if you’ve not yet watched Alita: Battle Angel, you’ve no doubt seen the sword featured in much of the marketing material. This Damascus Blade has now been 3D printed, along with a unique lighting system.
Poblocki tells us that, after seeing the movie, he wanted to print his own but couldn’t find the model available online anywhere. As any good maker would do, he set to create his own using Fusion 360.
Completing this initial model took around six hours, plus another six hours to make improvements. Printing took even longer at 40 hours but resulted in the first version of this project that was already impressive as is, but was missing something.
During the movie Alita channels plasma into the sword giving it a blue glow, and that was the next step to making this prop more accurate. Instead of using LEDs as with many other glowing prints we’ve seen in the past (this Witcher sword does exactly that), another piece of tech was used.
Electroluminescent wire, usually just known as “EL Wire”, was used instead. This thin strip of wire is coated in a phosphor that glows when a current is applied to it. Using this circuit, the wire was retrofitted into the blade and can be activated through a switch in the handle. Gluing and fitting the system into the print added another three hours to the project time.
From start to finish this took 60 hours to complete, resulting in a prop that is 100 centimetres long. You can get a sense of scale for the print in the gallery below, with Poblocki himself holding the sword.
For the lighting to work properly with the EL wire, a clear PLA was used for the blade. Careful painting with silver metallic paint followed this to give it the proper look while avoiding covering up the lighting. The handle is a bit easier, just using a black PLA or any other colour you have on hand if you’re willing to paint it afterwards.
Weta Workshop, the famous special effects house known for everything from District 9 to Blade Runner 2049, actually sells their own scale replica of the Damascus Blade. Their plastic version intended for cosplay costs $99, but doesn’t feature any kind of lighting as we’ve seen here. Maybe they’ll take a cue from this fan creation and make a new version in the future.