Aug 30, 2016 | By Alec

Over the past year or so, we here at 3ders.org have regularly travelled back in time to revisit our childhoods, thanks to countless fantastic 3D printed props based on iconic cartoons and movies. Ever since the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit the web, kids from the 1980s were able to enjoy spectacular Star Wars-themed props, such as this amazing two foot long 3D printed Star Destroyer. And if you grew up in the nineties the recent surge in Pokémon-related 3D printing projects, such as this 3D printed PokéDex smartphone case, will have been a blast from the past as well.

But Bob Clagett, of I Like To Make Stuff, has now reminded us of another timeless classic: Transformers. As a tribute to the iconic Transformers: The Movie (1986), he has recreated and shared an amazing 3D printed Matrix Of Leadership. As you will doubtlessly remember, this object made Optimus Prime the leader of the Autobots, and he passed it on to Ultra Magnus after a climactic battle with Megatron of the Decepticons. It was absolute eye-watering scene that definitely deserves a 3D printed tribute.

As Bob explained, he wanted to build a Transformer-related prop because the Transformers movie was a huge influence on him growing up. “I grew up in the 80’s, and I absolutely loved Star Wars, GI Joe and Transformers. I specifically remember when the Transformers movie came out, and LOVED IT! As an adult, I bought the movie on DVD and have watched it several times with my kids, but that particular copy of the movie is pretty low quality. When I found out that they were remastering the movie for Blu-ray, to celebrate the 30th anniversary, I was… excited,” he recalls.

At the same, Bob was looking for an excuse to learn Fusion 360 software, and a fantastic project always facilitates learning. “I also took this as an opportunity to learn Fusion 360, a 3d modeling application that I’ve had trouble getting my head around in the past. This was a chance for me to model something in three dimensions that originally only existed in a two dimensional cartoon,” he says. Thinking about various options, he quickly settled on the Matrix of Leadership because it was one of the few options that wasn’t a gigantic robot.

If you would recreate this cool prop, check out Bob’s creation video below. The design itself was based on a 2D image, which Bob traced and transported to Fusion 360 for extrusion into 3D and further modeling. “I had room to add my own details, and just worry about capturing the scale and overall visual of the original piece. Fusion has a bit of a learning curve, but now that I’ve got a little experience in it, I’m hooked,” he said of the experience.

All in all, 3D printing took about 35 to 40 hours, and was followed by extensive sanding work to get everything smooth. Several coats of filler primer also helped. Especially all the curves and domes featured a lot of very visible build lines. This entire process was very time-consuming too, and became one of the biggest projects Bob worked on for a long time. The middle diamond-like shape was 3D printed in a transparent blue, to let the light shine through it.

Assembly itself relied on a series of magnet mounts, which make it possible to just snap the entire thing together. The magnets themselves were glued in with epoxy resin, while various accessories were also glued in. A simple electronic setup featuring a neo-pixel ring and a tiny Arduino (and a battery pack) is encased inside and glued in place using hot glue, allowing the entire construction to light up with spectacular results. The code for the lighting effects can be found on GitHub here.

The finished prop is absolutely spectacular, especially if you grew up loving Transformers as much as we did. While it probably won’t inspire you to lead the Autobots to victory, it will certainly take you on trip down memory lane.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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