AMS Spring 2023

‘Robo Kitty’ and His Incredible Story are Brought to Life via 3D Printing

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robokitty1The internet seems to love cats. Whether it is a cat with a grumpy look on her face, or a cat simply chasing its tail, people have a fascination with these cute, cuddly animals. In fact, there are probably more internet memes featuring cats than anything else we have seen. So, when 3DPB.com forum member Geoff created a robotic looking, articulated 3D printed cat, we couldn’t pass up doing an article on it. However, when digging a little deeper, we found that there is actually quite an interesting story behind his design.

“I have been using a program called ‘Poser’ since about 1995,” Geoff tells 3DPrint.com. “It’s a figure posing and animation tool that has evolved to a massive scale over the past 20 odd years. It was first released by a company called Fractal Design, and for the time was pretty ground breaking. Over the past two decades, it has passed hands through several companies and even a spin off version which more people are familiar with is ‘Daz 3D’. Poser Currently it is owned by Smith Micro and is currently released as Poser Pro 2015.”

When Poser v8 was released in 2009, the software came with free content for users to mess around with. One of these free models was a robotic cat named Robo Kitty, by Sanctum Art. Like many other cat-obsessive internet users, Geoff admits that he fell in love with this cute critter as soon he saw it. This, however, was before desktop 3D printing became widely available.

“The thought of bringing this figure to life was a pipe dream and poor Robo Kitty was destined to live its life trapped in a 3D rendering,” Geoff tells us. “Then 3D printing happened, and well.. just put two and two together!”

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2 + 2 apparently equals an amazing looking 3D printed Robo Kitty with articulated joints. It wasn’t an easy task for Geoff though. The original Robo Kitty rendering by Sanctum Art is merely a low poly model. Unlike in video games where smooth shaders and texture effects can be used to turn these raw 3D meshes into beautiful works of art, 3D printing doesn’t work the same way.

“With 3D printing, what you see is literally what you get. Printing Robo Kitty out directly from Poser is a physical impossibility without reworking all the meshes before hand, otherwise it would just look like a very low poly semi-cute kitty without the fine detailing,” Geoff explains.

Geoff had to dismantle the Robo Kitty design using Blender, before converting the files into OBJ format and moving them into ZBrush to modify them for 3D printing. ZBrush allowed him to rework the details in the mesh using the polish tool, smooth off the areas he desired, re-create the creases and details, and repair the mesh. Then it was off to converting it to an STL file and getting ready to begin 3D printing it.

To 3D print Robo Kitty, Geoff used what he refers to as his “old trusty, wooden, caveman edition of the FlashForge Dual”, which is currently going on 3 years in service. Printed in multiple parts, and then assembled, Robo Kitty was born into the tangible world for the first time.

Currently the figurine’s head and shoulder joints are movable, but Geoff plans to make all of the parts movable in the near future. After that, he has additional plans for the kitty cat that he admits his is quite obsessed with.

“Once all the joints are completed and movable, I have reworked the chest cavity extensively and plan do to some very cool things, including creating different sorts of Kitties, such as; First Aid Kitty, Fire Rescue Kitty, Police Kitty… you get the drift.”

In all, it took about 12-15 hours of total print time to complete, and another 2-3 hours of painting, on top of what Geoff says was “3/4 cups of sweat and tears and 1/4 cup of blood.” It should be interesting to see what Geoff comes up with next. Be sure to follow his progress on 3DPB.com, and let him know what you think.  He has also made the design files for Robo Kitty available on Thingiverse.

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