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Weta Workshop to take big 3D printing to the big screen

The New Zealand special effects company acquired a large format Massivit 3D printer

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Weta Workshop, the renowned design studio that has been behind some of the best film special effects in the past two decades, has acquired a Massivit 1800 3D printer at its facility in Wellington, New Zealand.

The creative design studio, known best for its intricate and ultra realistic creature costumes, animatronics and props, will utilize the large format 3D printer to produce large components for the entertainment industry. It should be noted that the studio has already worked extensively with additive manufacturing in general. Readers might recall that Weta Workshop 3D printed some truly amazing pieces for the live action remake of Ghost in the Shell (2017).

Richard Taylor, Co-Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Weta Workshop, commented on the purchase, saying: “We manufacture super-sized, hyper-realistic human figures, creatures, vehicles and other huge props for film and television and have always been on the search for technology that can produce large parts at a high speed.

“For 15 years, we have dreamed of a day when a printer would provide super large scale, speed and build strength at low print costs, in equal measure. The Massivit 1800 has delivered this for us.”

Weta Workshop 3D printing

The 3D printer was acquired through Stick on Signs, a Massivit distribution partner serving the Australian and New Zealand market. The large-format 3D printer will join a range of other traditional and cutting edge technologies that the special effects company relies on to bring magic to the big (and small) screen. In the cutting edge category, the studio already utilizes CNC routers, industrial robots and desktop-sized 3D printers—though none of these have been particularly well suited to producing large-scale parts.

“We’re often required to create 8- or 9-meter-tall sculptures and mannequins, which means we need to print multiple parts and then manually fit them together,” explained Pietro Marson, Workshop Operations Analyst at Weta Workshop. “Needless to say, this is both time-consuming and expensive.

One of the first jobs for the Massivit 1800 at Weta Workshop will be to 3D print geometrically complex, large-scale molds. The studio expects it will save thousands of dollars by using the large format printer instead of CNC routers or desktop-sized printers.

The New Zealand-based studio has already worked on some of the most visually stunning films of the last two decades, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Avatar, Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner 2049. With a large-format 3D printer in tow, we can’t wait to see what kind of special effects they come up with next.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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