Dec 9, 2014 | By Alec

Artist Theo Jansen's strandbeest, the larger-than-life creatures have been admired at numerous conventions and exhibitions, recently trudging along the sandy shores of Florida for the art basel miami beach event.

'Animaris Suspendisse' photo by theo jansen

For those of you who've never heard of Theo Jansen or his 'Strandbeest' (Beach animal) creatures, he's a Dutch artist who has been working on his increasingly complicated created since 1990. As he explained on his own website, he has been fascinated with making new, frugal forms of life since then. These skeletons are overwhelmingly made from recycled components and have something that resembles a 'mind of their own', and yet aren't filled up with computers. 'Not pollen or seeds, but plastic yellow tubes are used as the basic material of this new nature. I make skeletons that are able to walk on the wind, so they don't have to eat. Over time, these skeletons have become increasingly better at surviving the elements such as storm and water and eventually I want to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives.'

'Animaris Suspendisse' 2014, an evolution of previous creatures, photo by designboom

Over the years, his 'Strandbeesten' have gotten larger and larger, while several 'subspecies' have since developed additional survival skills. However, all rely on a very clever walking system. A rotating crankshaft serves as the creatures' spines, that can be easily manipulated (by wind for instance) to move a series of cleverly designed legs that interact with each other.

'Animaris Suspendisse' 2014, photo by designboom

This movement system is the result of a series of experiments and computer generated designs to optimize movement, ultimately resulting in Jansen's first beach walker, the Animaris Currens Vulgaris. Since then, the 'Strandbeesten' have grown in size and capability though always using the same movement pattern; some have fin-like sails on their backs to help their movement, while others feature propellers to aid their movement.

The biggest subspecies (12 feet tall) can even store wind in its stomach (recycled plastic bottles) to move when there isn't any wind to push him. It even features 'sweat glands' that moisten joints to stop sand from jamming it up.

Fortunately, these 'Strandbeesten' are currently being further refined using 3D printing technology, and can be bought on Shapeways. As his website characterized this new development, the 'Strandbeests have found a way to multiply by injecting their digital DNA directly into the Shapeways system.' These far smaller crawling monsters are based on the giant constructions, but come in a more manageable size.

A variety of models can be found on Jansen's page, but all capture the beauty and intrigue of their larger cousins. The largest of the 3D printed versions, the Animaris Geneticus Ondularis, features 122 moving parts! While it doesn't feature a propeller for autonomous movement, its distant 3D printed cousin Animaris Geneticus Gracilis does come with that option.

But all of these 3D printed monstrosities are, as Jansen put it, 'born from the 3D printer', as all are printed as one solid piece. They have all been printed in nylon filament, and therefore quite durable. 'You can simply blow away the dust, and it can walk. So you can imagine it was quite a miracle for me to see this. For after four and a half billion years of evolution, we have a new way of reproduction. You can put a DNA code of zeros in ones on the internet, and these can be printed out on all sizes of the world.'

Interested in getting your own version of evolution's latest product? You can find Theo Jansen's 3D printed 'Strandbeesten' here. Sadly, they are quite expensive, as the smallest beast (the 8 cm long Animaris Geneticus Larva) already costs more than €50, while larger models easily cost five or six times that number. To save a bit of money, you might like to check out this Instructables guide to printing your own in plastic filament.

The smallest of the beast: the 8 cm long Animaris Geneticus Larva.

For more on the 'Strandbeest' creatures, check out this video of Jansen talking about them:


Source: Designboom


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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