3D Printed Strandbeests Made To Order


If you love Strandbeests but don’t have the patience to build your own, Dutch artist [Theo Jansen] has you covered. You might remember him from a story we ran last year, detailing his awesome beach-going strandbeest creations.

His beach walkers are typically built out of PVC conduit and plastic tubing, towering over their creator. For the time being however, he is focusing his work on a much smaller scale. [Theo] has recently teamed up with a 3D printing shop in order to offer miniature working replicas of his creations to the public. The current models can be had for $105, which seems like a pretty steep price to us. Then again, these models come fully assembled and are composed of 76 individual pieces, which is nothing to sneeze at.

That said, considering how easily a Strandbeest can be created with a stack of thick paper and some free time, we imagine that an enterprising individual could build one using readily available plastics at a fraction of the cost. Anyone out there up for giving it a shot?

Continue reading to see a video of the Strandbeest creation process.

[via Gizmodo]


27 thoughts on “3D Printed Strandbeests Made To Order

  1. This guy’s ridiculous use of the word “animals” and him thinking these pieces of plastic are something more than just pieces of plastic drives me nuts. He isn’t even crazy in an entertaining way, he is crazy in a sad way that makes people roll their eyes or even feel embarrassed just listening to him talk.

    Sock puppets have been around for a long time and have duped the human race into continually making more. WHEN the day comes where sock puppets tend sheep for wool, plant crops for cotton, and run mills to stitch together puppets themselves… that will be the ultimate reproduction of the sock puppet. So that this idea doesn’t sound crazy, I’ll estimate that the sock puppets won’t be able to do this for a million years. Yep… not crazy at all now.

  2. It’s not novel to think of human practices as being transmitted from person to person and evolving over time. That’s what the concept of a meme is. You can apply it to anything from popular sayings (e.g., That’s hot), religious practices (e.g., kosher), to fashion (dude, that pink shirt is so 2001). In this case the practice is creating a strandbeest.

    I think the strandbeests are mechanically interesting but they’re becoming a bit of a cliche. Somebody needs to start improving on the design in noticeable ways.

  3. @Jay, since when craziness is supposed to be entertaining? Since when being entertaining is worth more than the genius of this man?

    @andrew. Somebody needs to put ’em to use, that’s what I think. They look so beautiful and otherworldly to me, but I’m afraid that the world as it is is closing in and there’s little room for such things left. Unless it’s entertainment, of course. Somebody (perhaps on YouTube) mentioned using them as wind-powered crop harvesters. That’d be a good use IMO. Riding one in stasis across the wind-swept post-apocalyptic desert we’re going to be left with is also cool.

  4. Theo Jansen is a Dutch artist making these strandbeesten (beach beasts). It is completely legitimate to use the words animals, life or evolution while describing these pieces of art, it is part of the concept. @jay Maybe you take it to literally. @andrew&egasimus The nice thing about art is to inspire people in all kind of ways. For some its just nice and beautiful to watch, others create new things as a reaction etc. etc. Even some might write about it in a reaction to a blog post. This all contributes to the power of the original piece of art. Therefore these strandbeests are more than mechanically interesting.

  5. Wow these are beautiful. I especially enjoyed the video on the shop’s website of the Strandbeest being pulled along by a piece of string. They’re worth every penny I think, they’re pieces of art.

  6. It seems these strandbeests HAVE enchanted everyone. Normally on hackaday 90% of all comments are nit-picking a project, pointing out flaws, or talking about how they did that in 2nd grade… but on THIS post I’m the bad guy for pointing out that plastic on a beach does not an animal make. 3D printers and CNC machines have undergone far more “evolutionary” changes over the years yet no one would talk about them the way this nut talks about these.

  7. @Jay, it’s not that you’re “the bad guy”, just that you have a rather narrow opinion.
    Personally I know what Jansen means when he says “animals”. I am also sure he know the difference between a strandbeest and a dog. Your assertion that he is sad-crazy is unwarrented.
    Surely all hackers need something of the artist in them.
    I’m all for limiting the boundaries to which I open my mind to ideas, but equally, being of too narrow a mind and too literal a critic goes against what I see as the hacker ethic.
    His creations are wonderful, enchanting if you like, and the idea of combining them with something like the shapeways service is certainly worthy of an article.
    I’ve been following shapeways since they started up and whilst I agree that their costs are a little high, they have some marvelous pieces on show in their galleries.

  8. I happen to share the same dissenting view. Art? Maybe. Animals/life/evolution? Not even on the same page. A tamagotchi is more of an animal then these things are, and I don’t see PETA cracking down on anyone who dares to remove a battery from one of those.

    If you want to believe that Vaucanson’s duck is alive, by all means, do. Just don’t try to persuade us less delusional people of that, ‘mkay?

  9. But nobody’s trying that, and the only one I see calling them “animals” is Theo Jansen himself, and he’s obviously not a native English speaker. IMO it’s just something that sounds OK in Dutch and doesn’t translate too well in English.

    By the way, how do such walkers compare to a wheeled vehicle in terms of carrying heavy loads?

  10. On thing not mentioned in the video is that Theo Jansen also made a pneumatic power and control system for his larger strandbeests, and that they were powered by the wind. The use of 3D printing seems to be a step away from autonomous replication due to the unlikelihood of strandbeests being able to act as 3D printers, but hopefully it will lead to more experimentation rather than just more copying.

    I think, to have something perform a proactive role in its own replication, the biggest challenge might be identifying and gathering appropriate materials with which to make parts. With only crude touch sensors, a robot would be stuck with jabbing at things to see how soft they are, and more sophisticated sensors would greatly increase the requirements of production.

    If a robot could identify premade components, then perhaps one that makes money by selling power made with solar cells, acting as a vending machine, or performing some other service could buy and assemble copies of itself. I’ve been thinking of such a thing for a few days, but even if I made one, I don’t know where I’d put it.

  11. I’m not sure what printer he’s using, but it may be a Z-corp or Stratasys Selective Laser Sintering model. I know it’s not a 3D Systems device unless it’s one of the companies they’ve bought recently.

    The cost for the item is actually not bad at all, since the plastic material used in the sintering process can get remarkably expensive. I’ve had parts built at a smaller scale, and less intricate for around $300 each.

  12. Hey Mike,

    Thanks for posting the article on the Strandbeests.

    They are 3D printed in polyamide with select laser sintering using an EOS100 machine at Shapeways.

    On the Shapeways site the material is called White Strong and Flexible


    The cost is $1.50 per cm3 of material used only and free shipping worldwide on all orders over $25.

    We are looking forward to seeing further evolutions of the Strandbeest emerge from the polymer dust.

  13. @Jay: The definitions we use of the concept of ‘animal’ or ‘being’ is arbitrary and contingent to our own situation, not all situations every place in the universe (or what would constitute THE animal).

    Read Calvin & Hobbes.

    1. I love calvin and hobbes!

      also, in response to all who have some misgivings calling them animals, Jansen has a book out that, while a little wacky at some times, provides a very compelling argument for why he considers the Strandbeests animals. If intentions aren’t enough for you, try thinking of what makes up an animal, and finding parallels in the structure of the Strandbeest. It’s surprisingly easy.

  14. While Theo Jansen will continue to act as “the hand of God” so to speak for his animals, let’s look at this from the point of view of simple life forms. His larger organisms have “survivalistic” capabilities such as turning into the wind and hammering down a spike (see his presentation at TED) they gather and store energy using wind as “food”, and they scurry away from the on coming tide.

    Un-natural selection happens when Theo deccides they are unfit, and takes them apart. In some ways the way that he describes them is somewhat like Intelligent Design is it not?

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