Epic 3D Printed Costume Head with LEDs by Mariday May 18 2018

We are always curious to see how people use our materials all around the world. Join us in the Mariday workshop - costume maker for furries. We spotted his new 3D printed head with LEDs, and we're impressed.

Hello there! Here is the most epic project we have seen lately! Have you made it all yourself from its ideation, modelling, printing, to installing the LEDs?
I've seen plenty of people making costumes and placing LEDs as an afterthought. I wanted to show the makers that you can use LEDs to make your costumes glow naturally and look almost bioluminescent.

So I decided to trial this idea with a fluffy arm. It contained around 300 LEDs driven by the Raspberry Pi microprocessor.

I got such a positive response at Confuzzled, the largest UK furry convention, that I decided to make a second arm and head.

I've been 3D modelling and printing for five years now, so printing the head was a perfect solution. Especially now when you can get clear PLA which print exceptionally well.

The clear PLA allowed me to fit the LEDs inside the head. It means that placing the fur on the outside diffuses the light and makes the fur perfectly smooth.

The head currently holds about 400 individually addressable LEDs, and the final costume should hold about 1,000 with a maximum current draw of approximately 30 amps.

Photo of Mariday made by Tig Tibbsy


The head is probably a new thing with furry costume makers. What response have you received from the community?

The 3D printed head bases are quite rare in the furry community for one main reason: To create a base like this, you need an artistic eye and need to be able to model and design for 3D printing.

Lots of artists can sculpt digitally, but not many can convert this into something printable.

I am currently trying to open up 3D printing to furries by starting a free online model repository. The repository will contain printable 3D models of claws, beaks, heads, horns, and more from modellers around the world. It will also provide a platform for selling prints and connecting artists with people who can model for 3D printing.

Furries love anything new and innovative. With this project, I want to demonstrate just how well 3D printing can work in fandom.


Btw is it really wearable with all those wires inside? Have you tried it?

When it comes to the head I've built and the arms, it needs a little context. These costumes are often referred to as “Fursuits” or just “suits”. They can look adorable on the outside but are incredibly hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable on the inside. The best way I can describe what it’s like is to imagine wearing a sofa.

Lining one of these with LEDs is like wearing a sofa and heated blanket at the same time. So to mitigate this, my suit has high air flow cooling fans, smart power management, and even built-in water cooling.

So is it comfortable?
Absolutely not.
Can you survive in it without long-term injury?
Just about.
Is it enjoyable?

OMG, you really consider how easy technic can change this whole. Amazing! How does the cooling system work? Does the whole body suit include some flexible pipes?

In some suits, there are freezer packs; these work well around the torso. However, this doesn't work very well when you need to chill a small specific area like your arms or head.

The cooling system is rather simple; it relies on a removable reservoir, diaphragm pump, and several meters of highly flexible silicone tubing.

After filling the reservoir with ice and water, easily provided by most bars for free, the pump circulates the water around the suit, cooling every inch evenly.


Will there also be fur on it just as on your arm?

The head and arms will get covering from 3 - inch acrylic fur. The main difference is that the head will be trimmed down to show off the higher LED resolution.


Btw. How did you make the LED lights? Is there some Raspberry Pi helping with it?

When it comes to LEDs, lots of people power them with Arduino or similar microcontroller. However, I use the Raspberry Pi as they have much more processing power and networking capability. It allows me to make a much more IOT (Internet Of Things) costume.

Because of the Pi’s networking capability, I can connect my costumes to the web which allows them to be controlled remotely from a web interface, automatically update software, download new effects, and control them with wireless controllers such as the Wii Remote.

The Pi’s processing power also allows for more complexity in the system, for instance, 3D physics simulations, image processing on the fly, and it can even track eye movement.

The structure of the code is designed to be very modular. For instance, when the system starts up, each module gets tested on its own to ensure that the software and hardware cooperate.

This is enabled by the Raspberry Pi’s ability to use multiprocessing. This is where lots of code runs simultaneously and independently.

It essentially means that if you’re performing and suddenly the gyroscope breaks, causing its associated module to hang, all the other modules will continue to operate regardless.

So you are a professional furries costume maker or its just a hobby?

By trade, I'm a Computer Scientist and software engineer. However, my passion lies in making, performing, and teaching.

I've been in the furry fandom for around seven years now. I joined because I was amazed at the craftsmanship going into their costumes. Since then, I have been a part of so much more than just the costumes that everyone sees.

I still firmly believe there's no such thing as a “grown-up”, so even if its a little silly, find a fandom, take your printer with you, and I guarantee you won't regret it.

If you can, please, could you tell us what this furry thing is in general?

The furry fandom is a group of people who are a fan of fictional “anthropomorphism” or animals showing human characteristics. Characters like those in the Disney film Zootopia, Wes Anderson’s The Isle Of Dogs; and even Mickey Mouse are perfect examples.

Most Furries have a unique personal character or “Fursona”. Some furs use this as a goal, someone more outgoing or bold. Others use it as escapism, allowing them to express a side to them they can't live in their everyday life.

In summary, it allows people to express themselves. It may be through songs, stories, games and costumes, also known as fursuits.

The amazing thing is that you can completely reinvent yourself and be whoever you want. I've gone to a furry convention and just over breakfast, made friends with a binman, lawyer, material scientist and musician. Everyone gets equal treatment, and that's why the people I've met over the last seven years mean so much to me. 


Follow up


(fursona drawing made by Curscio)