Introduction: Bad Robot

About: Architect and Maker with a powder based 3D Printer

It might have sounded silly 5 years ago,
"coming up with an idea and bringing it to reality can be a fast process."

But now, the advantages of digital design and rapid production make it believable.

With digital design, multiple assemblies can be created and manipulated on the fly.
With rapid additive manufacturing (3D printing), complexity is free.
It takes longer to 3D print a cube of soild volume.
The designed complexity, ie. the digital voids within the cube, actually speed production. so with this new frontier in front of us, I thought I would take an evening and document the process:

concept : draw out your idea

build solid things

manifold assembly production

development & discovery

3D printing options

Step 1: Concept: Draw Out Your Idea

Use your note taking, doodling, and sketching skills upfront.
Your idea should have some graphic planning (form a logo)
Your idea should have a background story that relates

Starting with a point of departure or theme:

theme: SCI FI community punchlines
(it sets the background and your audience)

  1. Bad Robot theme racing in my head
  2. WALL E treads
  3. treads with Alien tendencies
  4. the robot thingies in the Fifth Element
there is an implied story and background in each of these
just a mini sketch of each punchline can direct you successfully
I like to create forced relationships and see what the results are.
We are just going to throw these punchlines together and run with it.

Draw out what a Bad robot looks like
A simple sketch can help you work through many upfront issues

take a photo of your sketches and bring them right into Sketchup.

Now the fun begins.. time to use the Z axis!
Start somewhere and begin modelling an assembly.

the goal: create a number of complex manifold assemblages
can you see some of the punchline references?

Step 2: Build Solid Things

manifold assemblages mean you are water tight.
it means you have solid groups.
once you get them that way, they can be forced together at will,
and the end result
after processing them into STL files,
is a reality ready to 3D print

So take the time and do it right,
make sure when you click on an assembled group in Sketchup, it says "Solid Group"
use your zoom, examine the shell.

Use plugins like Fix Solid, Manifold, STL conversion by Jim Foltz, Grow, and Fredo tools like reverse orient face.. etc.
the magic really happens when you get to "Solid"

build away

Step 3: ​manifold Assembly Production

this is just a running log of progress with the digital design
for any desired assembly, it is best to start simple
The cycle consists of
getting it close,
converting to STL,
importing the conversion,
refining to "Solid"

once the assembly is solid, you can go in and spend time on beefing up your model complexity.
Remember, complexity is free... (to printer, not designer)
Perceived complexity implies tangible value.
Complexity can conserve material also, like a hollow cube or a stick cube.

3D printers are indifferent to complexity whereas other manufacturing methods shun it.
So kick up your file size with some detail!

Step 4: ​manifold Assembly Production II

more digital production drawings
at this point the robot's chassis is complete and some cross bracing has been added

in any given model, it is good to stay near the fence line of minimum widths.
Think of building up shells instead of bulky mass, create a jack o lantern, not a pumpkin.

Lowering volume lowers your printing costs

Step 5: Development & Discovery

Hopefully when you are prolifically developing the digital design, discovery and opportunity happens.
This is always rewarding to the designer.

I ended up adding another "punchline" as the model progressed.
I really like the golden ratio and fractals.
Adding "like" elements at different scales within an assembly is something I try to do often.

You can see that the robot chassis has kinda taken on a conch shell or spiral tendency
You will also note the cross bracing from the chassis was scaled down 61.6% and utilized for the single track.

Step 6: From Digital to Product

So I guess this is the end result when you throw a bunch of SCI FI "punchlines" and model them.
This looks like a bad robot, or maybe just a stupid one.
Who am I to judge?,
Hey, it was a fun way to spend an evening, and there was discovery.

The coolest thing is that the file, although quite small compared to other STL files, still contains quite a bit of surface complexity. (Yes that is cool to me)

Finally, in keeping with the philosophy of open source for the masses.....
Here is a link to the STL for those who have the capability to 3D print.

And if you want to share your wealth to an underemployed designer

Input is always welcome.

Jeff Johnson
Rifle Creek Studio