3D-Printed Transformer/Puzzle Inspirations

Basically, I want to make a completely 3D-printed toy (for children or the young at heart!) that is capable of transforming from one configuration into another through simple manipulation (twist, push, pull, etc). The most difficult aspect of the project will be designing the snap-fit/sliding/rotating features that allow the transformation to occur. This will surely require lots of test prints, but will be doable as I have past experience designing 3D-printed objects that require snaps and sliders. At this time, I anticipate creating something that transforms from a cube into a robot, but that is wildly subject to change (perhaps something more Colorado/CU themed?). My end goal is to be able to upload the .STL files and assembly instructions for this project to Thingiverse and allow other 3D-printing enthusiasts to successfully create their own versions of the toy!


  • Twisty Puzzles (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83a_DX8WDe8)
  • Heart gears (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70dKZjP4NOo)
  • Transformer toys (https://youtu.be/RYQUVr4qwHc?t=3m30s — http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Bumblebee_(G1)/toys#Generation_1)
  • 100% 3D-printed assemblies on Thingiverse (https://www.thingiverse.com/make:150667, http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:257911 – no assembly required on this one either!)


  • 3D-printer filament
  • Sticker/Decals/Paint/3D-party printing/post-processing. I want to stick to one color initially to make it attractive to hobbyists who want to print the parts and put them together in one run, but I may want to make a polished final version for this project


  • Personal 3D-printer
  • 3D-printers available for my use in the IdeaForge and ITLL


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6 Comments. Leave new

  • Ryan Yankowsky
    February 29, 2016 1:56 pm

    Have you thought of using some of the copper or wood style print material, you could advance an aesthetic just by applying the corresponding color/ texture scheme to your design. Also was thinking instead of a cube or basic shape to begin you may think of a more dramatic form, football that converts to a buffalo for example. Good luck!

    • Sreyas Krishnan
      March 2, 2016 2:15 am

      Yeah, using PLA material that is cut with wood/metal would be really cool. The trouble is that sometimes you need special extruders to use such filaments. I’ll look into it!

  • This seems quite feasible. There are so many possibilities; what aesthetic will you apply? The classic transformer is a machine in one form and a humanoid in another, right? How about transforming between two animals/creatures? The 3D printing frees you from having to use machine-like forms. One warning; the printers become VERY busy towards the end of the semester; best get started right away!

    • Sreyas Krishnan
      March 1, 2016 8:18 pm

      Thanks for your thoughts Prof Hertzberg! The possibilities were indeed endless, which of course, led me back to making something CU-themed. Naturally, haha. Rather than going with a transformer, the direction I seem to be heading is a crank toy. I decided to start off working with an extruded and shelled CU “Ralphie” logo. The dynamic aspect of the design will be the moving legs of Ralphie (to make her appear to be running) that will be actuated by a crank. The aesthetic will still be a children’s toy, but with an eye towards hobbyist printers on Thingiverse. I’ll discuss this further along with some stretch goals in my report blog post for tomorrow.
      Luckily, I have my own 3D-printer at home so I should be able to get in print time off campus as well!

  • Rachel Grosskrueger
    February 27, 2016 10:12 am

    Hey I just did a bit of quick research to see where you could get started! I found this image and it might help get ideas flowing! Basically it’s just a bunch of 3D printed ligaments/joints that you assemble and form the dinosaur or whatever you want it to form! Kind of like legos but more realistic! http://static1.sw-cdn.net/files/cms/tutorials/prepare-render-model-3d-printing/modibotdino.jpg
    Also! To get you started on the joints, here is another link that can help get you going! It’s basically like a 3D puzzle with the exact same style fittings! https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/93/18/74/931874715c44875778b75f99677a706e.jpg
    Hope this helps!

    • Sreyas Krishnan
      March 1, 2016 8:24 pm

      Thanks Rachel, that is REALLY cool! I have gradually transitioned toward a crank toy from the original transformer idea, but I will definitely keep this in mind. The toy, even in its early stages, already has several snap fit parts so this could still be very applicable. Plus, I might want to make one of these in my free time anyways 😉


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