One of South Africa’s shining stars in the global maker community has been RoboBeast, a 3D printer designed for use in harsh environments. Back when it launched, we dubbed it “the Chuck Norris of [3D] printers” thanks to its ability to print while being moved and consistently produce high quality prints with low maintenance. The locally-designed-and-made machine (and the company which shares its name) has been growing substantially as of late.

Founded by 3D innovator Richard van As, who achieved global fame through the RoboHand initiative he founded, RoboBeast recently moved into a new factory in Randburg and has made a significant new hire: designer Rick Treweek has been brought in as creative director, with a brief to show customers what’s possible with the highly robust and scaleable RoboBeast printer.

Treweek also helped to establish a new makerspace at JCSE’s DIZ hub in Braamfontein, and is the founder of Trobok Toys. Trobok isn’t a regular toy company; instead of selling the actual playthings, it sells 3D files which can then be used in any way the customer likes.

When designing models for 3D printers, Treweek looks to use the aesthetics of extruded plastic and avoid using support materials.

While maintaining his position at Trobok, Treweek is now joining RoboBeast as its creative director. That makes RoboBeast one of the only 3D printer manufacturers to have such a position in the company. van As says he’s been keen to work with Treweek for some time.

“I had to chase this guy around the world. Every time I was invited to an event I’d ask: ‘Is Rick going to be there?'” van As said, “I remember going to Singapore and running into Rick, but now I finally have him here.”

(Left) Rick Treweek, (Right) Richard Van As and a back ground filled with printers and prints.
(Left) Rick Treweek, (Right) Richard Van As and a background filled with printers and prints.

While RoboBeast was designed for manufacturing prosthetic limbs in rural Africa and warzones, its reliability and design has proved popular with commercial customers as well. As standard, RoboBeast comes with a battery backup to keep printing during loadshedding and a large 320x385x300mm printbed. van As produces custom sizes on demand for clients.

“I wanted to work with Richard because RoboBeast really takes 3D printing out of the “trinket zone”, Said Treweek, “We really need to show [people] how big these prints can go and what you can do with them.”

A newly colourful RoboBeast, yesterday.
A newly colourful RoboBeast, yesterday.