3D Printing

Codename Colossus: The 3D Printed Robot From Straight Out of WWII

Up until today, I’ve never really thought that both World War Two and 3D printed robotics would ever be mentioned in the same breath. But lo and behold, Machination Studio founder Michael Sng has melded the past with the future, designing a massive WWII-themed robot bringing it to life with the 3D printing prowess of Shapeways. Sng’s project, which is called Codename Colossus, was inspired by a combination of his time as a conscript in the Singapore Armed Forces, the fact that his grandfather was a Royal Air Force mechanic in WWII, and his long-lasting imagination that strated when he was a younger. In order to bring this historically-influenced robot to life, Sng decided to turn to Shapeways’ vast 3D printing services.


“I wanted a high resolution surface finish on my toy, and FDM printers are not quite there yet, so the options were SLA, SLS or PolyJet/MultiJet. I had known about Shapeways for a while, a former colleague of mine sells his toy product through the Shapeways store, so naturally I turned to Shapeways first,” Sng said. “What ultimately made me use Shapeways was the fact that I can upload a group of parts at one time to the web application.”


The project was truly ambitious, composed of over 435 individual parts and requiring a labor-intensive paint job and post-processing. After sending his part designs over to the Shapeways’ Netherlands factory, the team printed the numerous components in their White Strong and Flexible plastic, a nylon powder material that is used with their SLS 3D printing technique. The team then painted the parts to reflect a worn-down military robot from the 1940s, ultimately recreating the WWII-aesthetic with a futuristic spin. Shapeways was able to get Sng’s robot printed quickly, which was a major factor in his decision to use their services.


“The 11-18 days international turnaround time was also a factor in my decision. This is from the Netherlands to Singapore,Sng said. “Typical air mail would take a week or more alone, so I was very impressed with Shapeway’s speed.”

The 3D printed WWII-inspired robot reportedly cost Sng around $7,000 to create, and is just one of his many interesting projects. Though this robot would never have existed during the brutal era of WWII, it looks like it came straight out of that time period. The last thing anyone wants to think about is a third World War, but if it did happen to come, designer and innovator Michael Sng will probably be better prepared than me.