Aaron Thomas has spent the last six months developing and creating Ronin, an intricate 10” action figure composed of over 400 independent parts. Each one of these parts was designed, 3D printed and hand fitted together, giving the piece full, realistic posability.
Not only was Thomas concerned that the figure operated effectively, however, he was also concerned about aesthetics, and much of his time was spent getting the look right. As each individual piece needed to be both stylish and functional, the process was extraordinarily painstaking.
Ronin boasts over 50 articulated joints, plus LED electronics, so every print had to be weighed and measured perfectly to fit the numerous other components to which it connected, while still supporting the overall structure and looking attractive enough to complement the slick design.
Armed with an Ultimaker 3D printer, Thomas went through a lengthy trial and error period designing, printing, tweaking, re-tooling, re-designing and re-printing before the various rubber and plastic body parts were ready-to-print with the precise dimensions and aesthetics required.
The actual print process was similarly meticulous. As Thomas himself describes it:
Once the pieces were printed, each was sanded by hand, then finished with surface putty, polished by hand, assembled, painted and lacquered before the final decals were applied.
This thorough attention to detail can be seen in the images of Ronin above and below. It’s a striking, muscular piece of design and printing, with what appears to be an astounding level of articulation. For now, however, it is only a prototype.
Though Thomas does wish to manufacture Ronin and other dolls for collectors and enthusiasts, he does not see 3D printing as the best method for creating a whole line of Ronin dolls, saying:
The process of making the Ronin by hand with the Ultimaker is very time consuming and frankly not the best option for mass production. So, at the moment, I am looking into the intricacies of launching a product line through overseas manufacturing.
The next step for Thomas is a crowdfunding campaign to raise the cash to put Ronin into production.