Jan 16, 2016 | By Benedict

When they aren’t busy making beloved blockbusters such as Frozen and The Good Dinosaur, the technical experts at Disney occasionally sink their teeth into a different kind of animation. Disney Research, the scientific arm of the movie giant, last year developed a 3D printable robotic design tool, which enabled users to quickly design animatronic “creatures” with realistic gaits. Inspired by the 3D printing endeavors of Disney Research, particularly its 3D printable “Cyber Tiger” model, Oklahoma based maker Greg Zumwalt set about designing his own 3D printed mechanical creature.

The 3D printed Saber, fruit of Zumwalt’s labors, is the most “mechanically detailed Thingiverse thing” of the maker’s 3D printing career, but the second to be inspired by Disney’s Computational Design of Mechanical Characters video. The talented maker’s first Disney-inspired project was Perseverance, a 3D printed mechanical model based on the story of Sisyphus, in which a man endlessly pushes a boulder up a hill, only to have it fall back down each time. Saber is less a reflection on the futility of life, more a celebration of wicked-cool scary animals. The 3D printed beast stands at almost 204mm (8”) tall, and 304mm (12”) long when fully extended.

Zumwalt designed Saber using Sketchup Make 2015, as well as his own software for generating the framework, gear trains, cam, cap, axle and arm motions. The prototype model was printed in PLA with a Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer, at a .2mm layer height, with 2 shells and 10% infill. Subsequent models were 3D printed on an Ultimaker 2 Extended using Cura “standard” settings. To animate the 3D printed model, the maker used a small motor, coaxial power jack and 3.0 Vdc power supply.

The Disney Research video that inspired Zumwalt to create his two impressive 3D prints was a demonstration of a unique interactive design system. Not having access to the software itself, Zumwalt instead tried to replicate the example designs using his own mechanical and mathematical skills. “We developed an interactive design system that allows non-expert users to create animated mechanical characters,” Disney Research explained. “Given an articulated character as input, the user iteratively creates an animation by sketching motion curves indicating how different parts of the character should move. For each motion curve, our framework creates an optimized mechanism that reproduces it as closely as possible.”

The mechanical 3D printed beast has been racking up the Likes on its Thingiverse page, where big cat lovers can download the STL files and 3D print their own versions. Saber is dedicated to the late father of Zumwalt’s wife, who passed away during the Christmas holidays.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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