AMS Spring 2023

Weta Workshop Acquires Massivit 3D Printer for Creation of Giant 3D Printed Movie Props

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Massivit 3D, as its name suggests, is known for its massive 3D printers, and they’ve traveled around the world and participated in some truly fascinating projects, such as the restoration of an Italian palace and a fully 3D printed pop-up shop. Now Massivit is getting its big break in Hollywood. Weta Workshop, the Academy Award-winning design studio behind such blockbusters as Lord of the Rings and Avatar, has acquired a Massivit 1800 3D Printing Solution, which has been installed at its Wellington, New Zealand headquarters.

“We manufacture super-sized, hyper-realistic human figures, creatures, vehicles, and other huge props for film and television and have always been on the search for technology that can produce large parts at a high speed,” said Richard Taylor, Weta Workshop Co-Founder, CEO and Creative Director. “For 15 years, we have dreamed of a day when a printer would provide super large scale, speed, and build strength at low print costs, in equal measure. The Massivit 1800 has delivered this for us. With the Massivit 1800, our team has been able to redefine what is creatively possible for our large-scale manufacturing projects. It is a powerful and versatile machine that has transformed the way we work and has supercharged our output. It really is a dream come true.”

According to Pietro Marson, Workshop Operations Analyst at Weta Workshop, the company has used smaller 3D printers before, along with CNC routers and industrial robots; however, these technologies have their limitations when it comes to producing bigger props.

“We’re often required to create 8- or 9-meter-tall (26.2 or 29.5-foot) sculptures and mannequins, which means we need to print multiple parts and then manually fit them together,” he said. “Needless to say, this is both time-consuming and expensive. The largest commercially available SLA 3D printer in the country has a maximum print volume of 60 x 60 x 40 centimeters, whereas the Massivit 1800 allows us to print up to 1.8-meter-high [5.9-foot] components. We can also print much more quickly and with far greater geometry freedom than with CNC machining.”

Weta Workshop believes that it will save thousands of dollars by using the new large-scale 3D printer. The Massivit 1800 has already been especially useful on a recent project that required the production of large-scale molds. It would have been a challenge to produce these molds using CNC technology, due to the molds’ size and the inability of CNC routers to create complex, deep intrusions.

Richard Taylor [Image: Massivit 3D]

“The Massivit 1800 has surpassed our expectations insofar as the added capabilities and extra efficiency it delivers our operations,” said Taylor. “Since its installation, it has stimulated a lot of creative thought and our teams are buzzing with what we will be able to achieve with it moving forward.”

3D printing has already appeared in several popular movies, from the costumes in Black Panther to the stop-motion images in several LAIKA films. Weta Workshop has not revealed which upcoming movie will be the first to feature large-scale props made with the Massivit 1800, but it’s almost a guarantee, given the studio’s past work as well as Massivit’s capabilities, that they will be impressive.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

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