An adventure in 3D Printing and Animatronics Part 1

As a puppet maker and someone who likes to know how things work, I have always wanted to learn how to make animatronic mechanisms like those found in the great movie creatures like T-Rex from Jurassic Park or creatures from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. For many years I have also wanted to try 3D printing as there are many public libraries and school libraries that have created maker spaces for their patrons that include 3D printers. Before I invest school money in a 3D printer for the library, I wanted to know how to design, how to print, how to look after the printer and to make a list of what to be aware of when students are near the printer in terms of safety.

Since last year I have been completing online puppet making courses with the Stan Winston School of Character Arts and in many of my social media feeds, this course has been advertised:

I could not resist such a wonderful opportunity to combine my interest in learning how to make puppet mechanisms along with my curiosity about 3D printing!

The course is 5 hours long but the thing I really enjoy about the way these kinds of courses are presented, is that the content is on demand and always available. I can also pause sections or even repeat segments as necessary.

I have completed the first few exercises in drawing the eyeball in the 3D software 123D Design. The part that is really slowing my progress down is that since the course was published, the software has been updated so much that it does not resemble the software being demonstrated in the video at all! With the help of many youtube and google searches, I am starting to feel more confident in using the software. Another thing I am finding useful while watching the lesson and making my design simultaneously, is using 2 monitors one showing the video from the Stan Winston Site and the other with my design in progress.

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