Aug 17, 2017 | By Benedict

A maker named Nicolas Raynaud has made a 3D printed robot inspired by Theo Jansen’s incredible wind-powered Strandbeest mechanisms. The robot has wowed the internet with its ultra-smooth leg movements.

When you first see videos of Dutch artist Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest mechanisms, it’s hard to believe they’re real. A network of plastic yellow tubes, pumps, sails, these “self-propelling beach animals” appear half-way between organism and machine, and have rightfully drawn attention from across the globe.

Jansen has been perfecting the Strandbeest concept for decades, and his largest creations have won him numerous prizes and accolades. Fortunately, the beauty of Jansen’s work probably won’t be consigned to the oeuvre of just one man: the artist and sculptor is keen to explain how his systems work, opening up the possibility of future artists, designers, and even engineers using his theories as the foundation for new mechanisms.

And while nobody has attempted to fully recreate one of Jansen’s magnificent creations using a 3D printer, some makers have at least been inspired by the Dutch artist to make smaller, Strandbeest-style creations. One of those makers is Nicolas Raynaud, whose 3D printed “Strandbeest” robot went semi-viral earlier this month, largely thanks to its impressively smooth gait.

Raynaud, who ordered some of the 3D printed parts for his robot through Sculpteo, says he designed the CAD model for the walking robot using Fusion 360. FDM 3D printing was used for the black sections, while Sculpteo’s SLS 3D printers were used for the white parts. In addition to the 3D printed parts, the model uses JA12-N20 6V 100RPM motors, 112 ball bearings (683 ZZ), M3 screws, and two threaded rods.

Thankfully, Raynaud probably won’t be the last maker to attempt a 3D printed Strandbeest. For starters, the maker has shared his own design on Thingiverse (because “Reddit asked for it”). But with patience and understanding, anyone can learn how to make a similar mechanism.

All it takes is total adherence to an algorithm and set of ratios. To make a Strandbeest-type robot, makers need to perfect the art of the “Jansen’s linkage,” a geometrical mechanism that, when used in combination with other linkages of the same shape, produces a smooth walking motion that is completely unlike the typical motion displayed by robotic legs.

In fact, we’re surprised there haven’t been more attempts to 3D print a Jansen-esque robot. You can find  plenty of multi-legged bots while combing through the Thingiverse archives, but few are quite as satisfying to watch as a Strandbeest.

One thing’s for certain: Reynaud is now handing over the baton to whichever makers want to make their own similar robots. “This project is over for me,” he says on Thingiverse. “But I would really be happy that you reported any modifications you make so that I can get some more engineering knowledge from it.”



Posted in Fun with 3D Printing



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