ZF1 build thread - picture intense


Sr Member
I have wanted to build this things for SO long, and it’s finally time for me to get this over the finish line. Fifth element is one of my absolute favorite films.
For over 10 years ago I followed the thread we had here at the RPF and many of the parts where identified. At the time I didn’t have the tools to complete this by myself since I didn’t have a lathe or a mill, or could operate one! But those things have changed now and I have been working as a prop maker and practical SPFX maker for the last 15 years, so now I have all that, lathe, mill and a CNC.
SO I have no more excuses :)

This is the machine part in the studio.

This is a big undertaking, as those who have built one of these know. I started the project with comparing my original production used ZF1 shell and the found parts with screen grabs and pictures taken of the original. Plus that I had a few measurements from the original prop. One thing that struck me was that everything was smaller than I have thought or expected when held in the hand.

Here is my original Shell and the mold that was used to do the shells and pieces for the film.


Since this build is so massive regarding fitting and many pieces I felt that it would be better to start with doing as much as I could in cad before I made the parts, this is just to let me make as few mistakes as possible, but there will be mistakes anyway ;)

This is a render of the 3D model I created to base my build around.

So I thought I would start making the parts that I think will be the most fun to make, all the aluminum parts in the front like the ice-cube system nozzle and flamethrower etc etc.

These was so fun to make, and rewarding.

And more random pieces.

The flamethrower nozzle is made of bronz, and the body is made of 7075 aluminum.

And when heattreating Bronze it turns in to the right color as the original.

And here it is with a color test I did.

Here is a few more pieces of the ZF1 gun, I’ll go in to more detail about them later on in the build.


It’s so fun finding out things about the props as you build, challenges that I face was also done by the person that built it in the first place, and that way you get a “Aha” moment and you figure out how and why they did some things.

This prop has more thought than I originally thought, the design is pure genius, and I will get into that later on in the build.

I have so many pictures to post, but will post more as the build continues. And at the same time, sorry for all the pictures. :)

This thread is so I will not bail on this again, and maybe share the progress and mistakes with all of you.
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Master Member
WOW! so cool! I love the way you treated the parts, extremely screenacurate so far! looking forward to see more of that project :)

oh, and man, i'm jealous of all your tools!


Sr Member
WOW! so cool! I love the way you treated the parts, extremely screenacurate so far! looking forward to see more of that project :)

oh, and man, i'm jealous of all your tools!
Thanks man! Good eye there regarding the parts, my main goal is to make it as accurate as it can get.
And I will go into on how I treated the parts later in the build, I’m fairly sure they did it the same way as I have done.

Yes, it’s so great to have the right tool for the job, this is only a small corner of my studio. :)
But it has taken me many years to build up the studio with machines, lasers and 3D printers.


Sr Member
Woah, this looks great so far. I'm looking forward to more!
There will be more, I will try and go into more detail for all the different parts, and try to show how I made all the parts as well.
sometimes things happen to fast and I forget to document the process, but I will do my best.
bookmark this thread, as I will try and have regular updates every week.


Sr Member
The Icecube-system nozzle

After making the part in 3D just so I could se that the measurements fit the model as a whole, I made a machinist blueprint with all the measurements so I could machine it on the lathe.
since I’m anal about the measurements I had to scrap the first piece I made, it was a few thou off.

This is the final part being made on the lathe.

After this it has to be moved over to the mill, and put into a rotary table since the holes has to be drilled at an angle and be evenly spaced around the top of the part. There is 8 holes so they are spaced with 45 degrees.


Did some pilot holes/spots before I did the full depth.

I did some different tries with different fluids for the blue finishing on the part. And I found that the one that matched the best was ordinary permanent marker! This is used all the time as a machinist, to mark up the part where to cut.

Here is a comparison of the original prop part and mine.

Not the exact angle but it looks very close to me.

All this part has left is some threaded holes in the back portion of the part to be screwed to the sideplate that I will make later.


Sr Member
Ok, on to the next part, I call it “The barrel pistons”

This part is pretty straight forward, started with machining the “holders” for the pistons that was made out of 7075 aluminum. So is the piston housing.

And the pistons is made out of steel rods, that are threaded at the end so the angle ball joint can be threaded on.

The piston housings are threaded at the end and have a set screw inserted, so it can be screwed on to the housing holder.

The housing holder is 6068 aluminum and was machined on the mill.
Below you see the assembled part.

I’m so pleased that I managed to get a hold of the exact same ball joint as on the original prop. It has to be the one that are perfectly round, and not have a small flat surface at the end of the ball.

Wonder Knight

Active Member
wow, what a beautiful workshop .... and so clean, mine is always so messy. In any case, the work is brilliant, I can't wait to see what happens next. This prop is so epic


Sr Member
Thanks for all the kind words, I really appreciate it!

Gold circle

At least that’s what I call them.
These pieces are also pretty straight forward when you have a plan.

Made from a 90mm 6068 aluminum stock.

I’m afraid that I don’t have any pictures from when I had it in the lathe, but this operation is mostly about removing material, and then a little chamfer at the end :)

I printed the half spheres from my 3D model in one of my resin printers, I’ll paint them later. At this stage it’s just about getting all the parts made so I can fit everything together.

To finish the aluminum parts of I’m using transparent yellow lacquer. The instant approach would be to think that they are anodized, but I never thought that looked accurate.


My goal with this build is to make it as accurate as I can, even if a part will look “crappy” or sloppy, but that’s one of the things that I like about an original prop.

Ps: Does anybody know why some pictures turn 90 degrees when posted? Or know how to turn them back again?
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Sr Member
I chose to build the version that have this blue “thingy” across the middle section all the way, to connects the two side plates.

So this is the “Blue thingy cross bar”

Started by making a machinist blueprint, so I had all the measurements when I’m at the lathe and mill.

These parts are not complicated, but you have to keep track of things since the cross bar have a lot of holes that shall be on the correct side, because it integrates with a lot of pieces.

Test fitting the parts to see that they align. Great success.


Master Member
If I may get constructive a little, you have a lot of machining marks on your lathed parts that I don't see on the original. maybe your tool should advance a bit slower or use a smaller tiped tool to get closer to the original surface finish. this is just to be constructive but I really love your work :)


Sr Member
Yes, I know. I will polish all the parts when they are fitted and I have all the parts.
Even the “paint” is a test, so when ALL the parts are done, and I have test fitted them and everything fits, then I will polish them and know how to do the finishing touches.
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Sr Member
The “Lamp holder”

At least that’s my name for it! This is kind of my favorite piece, why? This is a part that I identified here on the forum way back, that this is the micro mag lights. And it’s the only part that I have been the first to identify over here :) we have to many people here that are better and faster at identifying parts then me anyway.

So for this part/assembly we need two micro mag lights, and some aluminum bar and rods.
This assembly is the first thing I messed up, the first two aluminum bits that stick out from the mag lights were out of specs, so I put them in the bin and made a pair that was up to spec.

Then I messed up the body that holds the mag lights, it was also out of spec by a whole 2mm!
I guess this was “one of those days”. I didn’t have the time to make a new, but I took a picture just to show the assembly.
I will make a new ASAP, and when I do I will try and document it so I have more pictures that show the work at the machines.


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