Enter the Ronin

Hi, my name is Aaron Thomas and welcome to my incredibly exciting new project : Ronin. The Ronin evolved from the Unknown mecha project which I completed back in 2011. When I bought my Ultimaker 3D printer a year ago I was very unsure about what the extent of its capabilities and indeed the capability of the FDM print process. However after 6 months of learning, tweaking, redesigning and lots of printing, I am proud to present the first 3D printed, fully posable 10" Action Figure with more than 50 Points of Articulation, and LED electronics.


The Process:

The Ronin is the culmination of 6 months of part-time development. What Started as a challenge for the Ultimaker and the process of FDM printing has proven to be an exciting pipeline for me to convert my 3D designs into actual physical models. Early production concepts were targeted at a smaller design, one to fit within the mini-fig market.


The Ultimaker behind Ronin.


Evolution of Ronin over the months.

however as the project moved forward I grew more confident with what was capable of the printer and wanted to push the appeal of the design through size and detail. Much of the original 3D mecha model was thrown away or totally re-modeled to work in 3D printing. Each component had to lock together with several others in order to achieve the complex machine like look of the robot.

In addition consideration had to be made to the nature of the printed plastic and rubber. Each piece had to be re-tooled to support the weight of the design and complement the overall toy articulation.


An expanded view of one of the inner spine segments, and numerous pieces laid out for printing in Cura.

Eventually all this complex geometry and attention to detail resulted in each copy of the Ronin consisting of 400 independent parts, each printed separately and assembled by hand. Thanks to Cura and the Project planner inbuilt it was easy to print several sets of pieces all at once.

The LED components were simple enough to incorporate. It was the 'pièce de résistance' and I was excited with the result the final effect brought the figure.

T-800 eat your heart out.

Finally 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. And the final result:


The Goal:

Since the completion of the Ronin, I am now more convinced than ever that I want to produce the Ronin and future figures for collectors to acquire. Indeed the process of making the Ronin by hand with the Ultimaker is a 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.

Over the course of the next few months I will be promoting the Ronin through various media. All this is to raise awareness leading up to the ultimate goal of a successful crowdfunded campaign to help with the costs of producing  an amazing and detailed toy line for collectors.


How you can Help:

Indeed the whole joy of making something like the Ronin, is to share it with people who like the design and would like to see more of it and concepts like it in the future. If you do indeed like the project and want to support it, then please e-mail me or leave me feedback. Additionally follow me on this page and Twitter for project progress.

Also if you would like to see the Ronin up close, it is on display from the 13th to 15th of Feb 2014 at the Ultimaker Booth at the International  3D Printshow in New York. For more information head over here.