By Cassandra Balentine
The entertainment industry is ripe with opportunities for large format printing technology. The development of three dimensional (3D) graphic systems disrupts this vertical. The combination of wide format capabilities and 3D printing technologies drive innovation for one entertainment service provider.
Weta Workshop is a design studio and physical manufacturing facility dedicated to servicing the entertainment and creative industries. For more than 25 years, the company has applied creativity and craftsmanship to blockbuster films and hit television series including Avatar, Blade Runner 2049, District 9, Ghost in the Shell, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Thunderbirds are Go. The company is also a tourist destination, consumer goods producer, and mixed reality game studio.
It recently invested in large format 3D printing technology from Massivit 3D, installing a Massivit 1800 Flagship 3D Printing Solution at its Wellington, New Zealand-based location.
Pietro Marson, workshop operations analyst, Weta Workshop, says the company is always on the lookout for new developments in 3D manufacturing. The team happened upon Massivit 3D through an internet search in early 2016. “We had some sample prints sent to us, and eventually our local distributor—Stick on Signs—contacted us to let us know they had a Massivit 1800 heading towards Australia from Israel,” he comments.
The Massivit 1800 was installed in October 2018. Marson explains that the team experienced a fairly unique learning curve for the machine. “A week after being trained by the Massivit 3D technicians, our primary operator was injured playing sports and out of action immediately.” Although Massivit 3D offered to send a technician to train new operators, the company managed to get it up and printing again within a day just by reading the operation manual and a little remote assistance from the Massivit 3D support team. “We have a small pool of operators now, and some of them have had no prior 3D manufacturing experience—but everybody was quite confident within a few days.”
Marson says the support offered by the Massivit 3D team is second to none. “I don’t think we could ask for more. They are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful in bringing our crew up to speed with training over three to four days and troubleshooting any issues we’ve had.”
Weta Workshop manufactures super-sized, hyper-realistic human figures, creatures, vehicles, and other huge props for film, television, and museum exhibitions. The team is always on the lookout for technology that offers large scale, speed, and build strength at a reasonable price point, and they have found this in the Massivit 1800.
The Massivit 1800 Flagship 3D Printing Solution produces super-size, crowd-stopping props, displays, and signage for visual communication. Offering high printing speeds, it is designed to enable business growth through the scalability of its printheads.
The creative company’s primary goal for the machine was to produce durable, one-off, large-scale human figures faster and with less manual labor than obtainable with its conventional CNC manufacturing techniques. “We see it as an easy way of increasing our manufacturing capacity through the use of technology, giving us extra confidence to turnaround large jobs,” explains Marson.
In practice, Marson says the company exceeded the throughput it thought was possible, completing printing much faster than scheduled. “The results are exceptional,” he offers.
“With the Massivit 1800, we are able to redefine what is creatively possible for our large-scale manufacturing products. It is a powerful and versatile machine that transforms the way we work and supercharged our output. It really is a dream come true,” adds Richard Taylor, co-founder/CEO/creative director, Weta Workshop.
Weta Workshop’s manufacturing teams previously deployed a range of technologies for its fabrication process, including CNC routers, industrial robots, and smaller 3D printers. However, many presented limitations when it came to producing bigger props.
For example, Marson says it often is required to create 26- or 30-foot sculptures and mannequins, which means it would need to print multiple parts and then manually fit them together. This is a time consuming and expensive process.
The Massivit 1800 allows the company to print up to 5.9-foot components. “We can also print much more quickly and with far greater geometry freedom than with CNC machining,” shares Marson.
Weta Workshop expects to save thousands of dollars by printing larger components. The Massivit 1800’s print volume came in handy for one of the company’s latest projects, which required the production of large-scale molds. The large format 3D technology allowed them to eliminate issues it would have run into with CNC technology, which are limited by size and the ability to create complex, deep intrusions.
“The Massivit 1800 surpassed our expectations insofar as the added capabilities and extra efficiency it delivers to our operations,” says Taylor. “Since its installation, it 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 technologies carve out unique niches in every industry. Weta Workshop found an ideal prop production solution with the Massivit 1800 Flagship 3D Printing Solution. By removing previously restricting limitations, the company’s creative team is expands its capacity to turn ideas into reality.
Mar2019, Digital Output