Printed figurines can be amazing, but what about making them move? You can do so with Modio.
Modio is an iOS app that lets you easily create articulated 3D models. That is to say, it creates figurines composed of parts that snap together in movable joints.
The app is tremendously easy to use, particularly on an iPad. It also works on an iPhone, but you have less space to visually see your creation.
Modi includes a number of templates and pre-made bits that can be assembled into all manner of figurines. Once your design is complete, Modio creates STL files for each part and assembles them into downloadable form.
But wait, how do you download the STL on iOS? Modio uses an interesting technique: the app creates a web interface to the iOS device that can be browsed from a desktop, where you no doubt have your 3D printer operation software. You simply click on the links provided by Modio’s mobile web interface to download ZIP files full of all the required parts. It’s then a simple matter of printing them out on your personal 3D printer.
If it turns out your figure requires parts not in Modio’s catalog, you can mix and match using MeshMixer. A recent Instructable takes you through the process of adding Modio “connectors” to new parts of your own design, like the shark head shown here.
With this approach you should be able to 3D print figurines of practically anything. If you’re ambitious, why not try 3D scanning a friend and printing them in articulated fashion?