Creative Cosplayer, 3D Printer: Meet Samuel Staheli

Bringing his designs to life

Paizley Swaney, Staff Writer

Just before heading to LVL UP Expo, sophomore Samuel Staheli suits up in his 3D printed cosplay of his custom made Halo ODST soldier uniform. Time, effort and precision has led him to this moment, with fans adoring his articulate costume.

“To be able to mix a modern technology like 3D printing and cosplay is really a unique and cool experience because it just opens up the possibilities of the whole cosplay world,” Staheli said. “A lot of people associate cosplay with anime, but it actually includes almost anything you can think of. I was first introduced to 3D printing when I saw this dude on YouTube, Frankly Built, who 3D printed Iron Man cosplays.”

After exploring Frankly Built’s social media account, Staheli was influenced to begin his own account in a parallel attempt to gain more attention towards his work and grow his passion.

“I use my Instagram,, to post my finished products and pictures of partial builds on my stories which I like to link to my highlights,” Staheli said. “My goal is to get commissions for helmets and suits. Even if it seems like an unrealistic job, I could see myself pursuing a career in 3D printing.”

Challenging the stereotypes and boundaries of cosplaying and 3D printing, Staheli risks the structure of his delicate and costly video game-inspired full body suit and helmet.

“Standing in the long lines outside of LVL UP for two and a half hours melted all the hot glue holding the straps connecting all the pieces together. The glue I brought wasn’t working, so I was stumped,” Staheli said. “At first I definitely felt discouraged because I had no immediate solution. Fortunately, my classmate, Connor, was at our school’s booth and reached out to help me weld the straps back together.”

Through trial and error, Staheli has overcome varying physical and technical issues in his manufacturing process.

“Oftentimes the print fails, things aren’t set up right or the file code transfers incorrectly, but it’s usually human error,” Staheli said. “A limitation that comes from having my setup in my room is that I can’t print with filaments that emit toxic fumes. My dream setup would definitely be in a garage or shed instead.”

Faced with technical difficulties, Staheli takes each obstacle as a learning opportunity to build on his potential.

“I’ve learned to accept the fact that things happen, so while I do get frustrated when things fail I just try and get it right the next time,” Staheli said. “I’ve learned a lot about patience and persistence because there’s a lot of roadblocks.”

Among learning, budgeting and planning, Staheli still makes time to make trinkets that bring him and his close friend’s personal enjoyment.

“For Christmas, Sam 3D printed me a trinket box that twisted open smoothly. The mechanism was really interesting to see, and inside were 3D printed dice beads,” sophomore Violet Moreno said. “It was something personal to me and my style and I loved to see the effort Sam put forth to print it for me.”

Attraction of crowds both young and old have shown Staheli an avenue of profitable income stemmed from the creativity of his products, adhering to his goal of saving for a new printer.

“I make three different kinds of articulated dragons- crystal, sea and rose, with options like regular solid colors, color shifting, glow in the dark, color changing and more. People are always mystified on how it works,” Staheli said. “Me and my mom go up to a market in Logandale to sell them for around ten to twenty dollars each, depending on what type of filament I use, and I can print about ten to twelve per roll of filament.”

Taking all of his prior experience into consideration, Staheli plans to attend and compete in more conventions moving forward.

“I would like to go to Comic Con San Diego and a cosplaying event called C2E2, the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, in March,” Staheli said. “I do not currently have many plans for conventions or cosplays in the future, but I do definitely want to attend more, which will be announced on my Instagram in the future.”