I knew it was only a matter of time before someone used stainless steel 3D printing to make an awesome looking robot. Little did I realize that robot would be art, not automaton. Mani Zamani, an Algerian artist working in Europe, has taken his amazing looking digital designs and printed them using Shapeways' stainless steel printing. Combined with Revoltech joints from Kaiyodo, the stainless steel frames allow Zamani to create miniature pieces of robot sculpture with a level of detail and artistry that will blow your mind. His creations have been mentioned several times on the Shapeways site, where you can also find the designs for many of his figures. You need to see how cool these robots look; check out the videos of the printed and hand painted creations below.
3D printing is really coming into its own as a new avenue for art. We've seen full installations in museums and countless amateur creations via MakerBot, RepRap, and Shapeways. The ability to draft a sculpture and fine tune its look before it's made is a powerful tool for the visual artist. The replicative nature of 3D printing also turns every artist into a possible store. Zamani is working on his own joints to replace the Revoltech parts so he can sell his robot statues without restrictions. While some may see perfect replication as degrading the value of each individual artwork, for the struggling artist 3D printing can provide the means to become financially self sufficient by selling many copies of each work. As art takes advantage of 3D printers, we may see the fall of the winner-takes-all system that makes a few sculptors famous as the rest toil in obscurity. Or we could just see a lot more neat robot figurines. Either way, pretty cool.
[image and video credits: Mani Zamani]