May 24, 2016 | By Tess

As a huge fan of barbies growing up, I was excited to have all the doll’s new accessories, from a pink convertible, to a shiny new horse, to her fancy dream house, but even as a child I knew my options for her were limited by what was deemed “girly”. Now, however, thanks to maker Jim Rodda (aka Zheng3) and the capabilities of 3D printing technology, Barbie has a whole new set of seriously badass accessories, ranging from armor, to chariots, and most recently to a 3D printed battle tardigrade, which can easily be made on your own printer at home.

Tardigrades or water bears as they’re also known, are practically indestructible water dwelling micro-animals, which have been gaining attention on the Internet through Twitter posts and memes recently. Wanting to get in on the fun, Rodda decided to design a Barbie compatible, almost cat-sized 3D printable tardigrade. The 3D printable model is part of Rodda’s “Faire Play” series, which offers makers and Barbie enthusiasts a selection of less traditional (read girly) accessories and add-ons for the popular doll. After all, a Barbie on a tardigrade is undeniably cooler than a Barbie on a sparkly horse.

The 3D printable tardigrade should also be commended for its impressive design, which Rodda created based off of blown up images of the microscopic critter using Autodesk’s Maya modeling software. The fully-articulated model, which Rodda has named Brenda, is made up of 61 separate parts. When assembled, the 3D printed tardigrade has five body segments and eight legs which can be articulated. To print his own Barbie tardigrade, Rodda used his Type A Machines Series 1 3D printer.

Rodda also accounted for Barbie’s tardigrade riding outfit by designing a “fantasy barbarian furkini” and boots for her. The fashion accessories, which are designed to fit a Made to Move Barbie doll, should be printed in a flexible NinjaFlex PTE for best results. Rodda also designed a saddle for the tardigrade which itself is equipped with a mounting bracket on which you can stow the Barbie sized yoga mat he also designed. It seems Rodda has thought of everything for his Barbie and tardigrade play set.

Rodda does explain that he hopes he will one day be able to print the tardigrade at a larger scale, but as its current size already takes over 100 hours to print, the scaled up version will have to wait.

The 3D printable tardigrade as well as all the other 3D printable Barbie accessories are available for download on a pay-what-you-like basis (set with a $1 minimum) through Rodda website. Additionally, as they fall under a Creative Commons license, the maker invites others to remix and adapt his models so long as he is credited as the original designer.

Up until this moment I thought I had outgrown my Barbie dolls, but this 3D printed tardigrade might just be the reason I revisit my collection. If you like the maker’s work, check out his other Faire Play prints here.

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Posted in 3D Printing Application



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