AMS Spring 2023

Robot Art Creator Turns to 3D Printing Mechanaut & Predanaut Toys With an Afinia 3D Printer

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David White is a freelance artist known for his book illustrations and videogame art. Recently, he has made a splash with the release of a series of 3-D printed 6-inch action figures. Known as the “Mechanaut” and “Predanaut,” these creatures were both designed and printed by the artist.

predanaut-partsThe figures themselves were manufactured on an Afinia H-series printer. Once the printing is complete White uses an acetone vapor bath to both smooth out and strengthen the printed pieces. They are printed in color and the only application of paint is in the silver details.

The Mechanaut and Predanaut toys were conceptualized in part as an homage to the Micronauts from the 1970s.

“I took the design of those toys and combined it with the diaclone,” explained White. “I started doing sketches they were a 50/50 mix of the two and then figured it would be fun to print them.”

White produces his toys in limited runs as each toy requires a significant investment of time from concept to production. The Predanaut, for example, has 42 pieces and requires approximately 13 hours to create, not including cleanup and assembly. This intensive engagement with his products shows itself quite clearly and has led to their introduction into galleries such as the FOE. The opening of sales for the Predanaut figure included displays of concept drawings and prototypes, giving a view into the turnkey creation process.

mechanaut-V3-frontHowever, just because they have been displayed at the gallery does not mean that White hopes they will be treated as art objects. They are, fundamentally, toys and meant to be enjoyed.

“All of my toys are put through a ‘stress test.’ I’ll take them to parties or to lunch with my friends and have people play with them. I don’t tell them to be careful or gentle. I want to see how the toy holds up. If something breaks, I know I have to go back and make it stronger. Even if the toys aren’t necessarily meant to be played with, I make them with ABS filament so they have a bit more durability. They still need to be able to withstand being enjoyed.”

Predanaut-Premiere-Proud-MakerWhite enjoys the simplicity and accessibility of desktop 3-D printing, provided through his Afinia machine.

“After seeing [a friend’s] Afinia, I realized that personal 3-D printers were to the point that I could make good use of it, and I knew I had to have one. I read up on the Afinia 3-D printer in MAKE Magazine too, and that finalized my decision since it won so many awards, including Best Overall Experience. Since I don’t have time to build anything, it was also appealing that it is a true out–of–the–box printer and has great usability.”

Both the Mechanaut Soldier, and Predanaut have a limited production run of 16 a piece.  They both stand 6″ tall.  The Mechanaut Soldier features 14 points of articulation, while the Predanaut, 15 points. Both toys are relatively affordable considering the work that has gone into their production.  The Predanaut is $64.95, while the Mechanaut is $69.95.

In the near future, White plans to introduce additional Mechanauts and Predanauts such as the Predanaut Pterror Soldier and Mechanaut Engineer. He is also hinting that command units are part of his future plans.   Let’s hear your thoughts on these 3D printed toys, within the Mechanaut & Predeanaut forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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