3D Printing Fantastic Matrix Sentinel Model with Flexible Tentacles: Interview with Quentin Machiels

In the world where self-aware machines dominate, it is hard to survive. Luckily, this world is virtual and simulated by the Matrix, so you have nothing to fear when you choose to bring the Matrix Sentinel figure to life right at your home. A talented hobbyist Quentin Machiels worked hard on 3D printing, painting and assembling the Matrix Sentinel model which now decorates his shelf. Quentin is happy to share his secrets on how to paint the 3D printed model and make its tentacles flexible.

Learn all the details on crafting your Matrix Sentinel swarm on a 3D printer, breathing life into the tentacles of the Matrix machines and making them look very realistic.

3D printing Matrix Sentinel model and painting it

Matrix Sentinel Model

The “squiddies” or the Matrix machines with multiple tentacles were designed to kill. They maintain the Matrix’s physical structures and love to move in giant swarms when haunting for humans.

You can build a life-like Matrix Sentinel swarm if you have a 3D printer. Get the STL files of the highly-detailed Matrix Sentinel model for 3D printing on Gambody – Premium 3D printing marketplace. This model boasts many details, including a pod-shaped head with multiple round eyes and numerous tentacles with sharp claws.

One of Gambody contributing 3D artists, Black Wolf, spent approximately 180 hours recreating the deadly look of the killing Matrix machines in this stunning 3D printing model. You can reach striking resemblance of your 3D printed Matrix Sentinel figure to the machines from The Matrix films, just like Quentin Machiels did.

Matrix Sentinel model 3D print
Maker: Quentin Machiels

Are you ready to discover Quentin’s secrets?

1. Quentin, it is a pleasure to get acquainted with you. Can you please tell our readers more about yourself, your life, your hobby of 3D printing?

I’m from Belgium. I have been 3D printing for quite some time now, maybe for more than 5 or 6 years.

I got my first 3D printer Zortrax M200 at work. I’m a technical assistant in a learning centre for adults in Belgium. We teach various topics such as photography, server administration and many other things, including how to use a 3D printer.

Squiddies Matrix
Maker: Quentin Machiels

I have also been modelling my things for approximately two years. My first big project was the AT-REX, a mashup between Jurassic Park and Star Wars.

And now I have created a community devoted to 3D printed props from the movie Ghostbusters. I have made a fully printable proton pack and some other props, including Motorola MT500 radio and the “belt gizmo” device. That is the project I’m the most investing in now.

2. Which 3D printer are you using now? Do you have one machine or several?

Now I’m using my trusty old and modified Prusa MK2.5S. That’s my primary 3D printer. I know my MK2 very well, so I use it for all the small and delicate things to 3D print and the big objects.

I also have a backup Creality Ender 3 3D printer that I use for some repetitive print like all the Matrix Sentinel figure’s tiny legs.

Matrix Sentinel figure 3D printed
Maker: Quentin Machiels

3. You created a fantastic Matrix Sentinel model on your FDM 3D printer and scaled it to 115%. Why did you upscale it?

The main reason for 3D printing the Matrix Sentinel figure at 115% was to increase the size of tiny little parts. This model can be printed at 100% scale because the 3D artist did an excellent job. But for me, that was easier. And frankly the bigger, the better.

I already have a Sentinel machine, a toy made years ago when the movie was still in theatre. I wanted it to be bigger, to give it more appeal and presence.

Matrix Sentinel 3D printed model
Maker: Quentin Machiels

Scaling to 115% was a good compromise for the 1,75mm holes in the claws. It makes them close to 2mm. I could have made it a little bit bigger, but my idea was to make the APU go with it. And I would require way more space than I have. So yes, I will also 3D print the APU scaled to 115%.

4. Did you do the test prints before choosing your perfect size for Matrix Sentinel model?

I have only done 3D printing tests for the tentacles. For me, it was a critical part.

Sentinel tentacles 3D printing model how to make them bend
Maker: Quentin Machiels

5. With which filament did you print the Matrix Sentinel figure? How much filament did you need for this model?

I used PLA for everything. And I failed once at the left side of the body, but it was a defect in my extruder motor. I switched it for a new one, and it was all right like before.

I used approximately 2 kg (4.4 lbs) of filament. The final model is 1,7 kg (3.7 lbs).

3D print Sentinel model from the Matrix
Maker: Quentin Machiels

6. Your Matrix Sentinel model looks super smooth even before painting. What are your tips for making a smooth 3D print?

I have multiple tricks for that! The key is not to get the layer too high. 0.2mm settings are not that good for that kind of a project. You can use from 0.1mm to 0.2mm for the body and win some time with fewer supports and infill.

How to make smooth 3D print Matrix Sentinel model
Maker: Quentin Machiels

I love to use spray cans of filler paint. It works like magic. When you add two coats of spay, the print becomes super smooth. This procedure reduces the sanding time drastically. It’s also easier to apply than stuff like XTC-3D.

For more complex projects, I usually use only one coat and more fine sanding.

Sentinel machine 3D print
Maker: Quentin Machiels

7. Was printing the Sentinel tentacles the most challenging part?

Yes, because of the nature of FDM printing and the way the ball peg works. It’s technical, but the direction of the layers has the same direction as the movement. It will help if you print them on the side to be more effective. Still, you should cut them in half to make them look better in the end. 

My idea was to use the smaller ball peg available. The downside is the absence of rigidity in the tentacles, but I wanted it to be posable. So, I added a 2mm hole in the tentacles to put a bendy wire inside.

Adding bendy wire to 3D printed model Sentinel
Maker: Quentin Machiels

Now the tentacles are flexible without the possibility of breaking. Even if a ball peg breaks, the construction will stay in place.

8. You mentioned that you used the Sentinel model’s tail_v2 STL files with a smaller 5% ball joint and edited the files to put a bendy wire inside. Which software did you use for modifications? Can you please recollect the process of cutting a hole in the middle of the tentacle?

It’s simple. I know Fusion 360 very well as I did many personal projects using this software.

I imported the STL file in it (it’s not the best tool to do it but it’s the one I’m more familiar with). I upscaled the file to 115%, added a hole in it and saved. It wasn’t hard.

9. Which bendy wire did you choose to bend the Sentinel tentacles? Are they easily moving now, or did you have to “freeze” the model in one position to prevent tentacles from breaking?

It’s 2mm metal wire for flower arrangement. I should have used something stronger as the tentacles are heavier than what I have anticipated.

Sentinel dish radar 3D print
Maker: Quentin Machiels

The wire, for example, cannot hold the dish radar. So, I had to put a metal rod in it to peg on the base. But the bendy wire can hold the claw well for the pose I needed.

For anyone appending to do the same thing, I would say to use something stronger, and you will be able to pose the tentacles of your Matrix Sentinel figure in any way you like.

10. How much time did it take you to 3D print the 14 tentacles plus the Sentinel body?

The body of Matrix Sentinel model was the longest part to 3D print. I wanted it to look good, so I used variable layer height from 0.1mm to 0.15mm in Prusa slicer. It took three full days to make the body.

The Matrix machines 3D printed
Maker: Quentin Machiels

For the tentacles, it took 8 hours for a plate of 56 sections. Multiply that by 14. I also wanted the tentacles to be longer, so one plate was one tentacle.

11. Can you please share your tips for assembling the model with all the tentacles? How did the 70° heated bed help you to ease this process?

I used the 70° heated bed because it helped ease the assembly by softening the tentacle section’s bottom a little.

Matrix Sentinel model assembly
Maker: Quentin Machiels

Trust me, putting 56 sections together is a challenge. You could hurt your finger 15 times because even with the smallest ball you still need to apply quite a lot of force. Softening them made them pop in easily and thus reducing the possibility of breaking a peg.

12. How hard was it to position each tentacle?

With the bendy wire in it, it’s not hard at all. You simply move Sentinel tentacles the way you need gently. And it stays that way.

13. Which painting method did you choose, airbrushing or hand-painting, for the Matrix Sentinel model?

For the Sentinel figure’s body, I used chrome paint in spray can after applying the filler primer.

Painting 3D printed model in silver colour Matrix Sentinel
Maker: Quentin Machiels

For the tentacles, I used different colours of grey PLA to make them look different a bit. The eyes are made of red PLA.

After that, I used the chrome paint’s left-overs to spray the tentacles and arms lightly to make the details pop a little more and add more colour variations. I wanted the tentacles to be darker than the body.

Matrix Sentinel figure painting guide for 3D prints
Maker: Quentin Machiels

After that, I airbrushed a light coat of flat black paint everywhere to eliminate the shine effect and created a heavier coat to make it look dirty. Then I added some soft touch to the metallic grey, chrome and copper shades to create the effect of scratches and wear.

14. How did you make the Sentinel look chrome and shiny? Which materials helped you to achieve this stunning metal-like result?

I used good chrome in a spray can and a light coat of flat black.

How to paint 3D printed model to get metal-like effect
Maker: Quentin Machiels

15. Did you print the Sentinel “eyes” with red filament without painting them further on?

I wanted the eyes of the Matrix Sentinel figure to look bright red and lifeless. I printed them in a clear red filament. The absence of shininess in his eyes make them pop more, I think, even in the darkness.

Sentinel machine red eyes 3D print
Maker: Quentin Machiels

16. How did you add “bloody” stains to the Sentinel’s crab-like appendages?

A big part of the Sentinel’s “work” in the Matrix is to kill humans. Thus, I wanted some of the tentacle claws to look bloody. For that, I used a layered mix of red, black and brown paints. There are also subtle blood drops on the body.

How to paint blood 3D printed Sentinel tentacle claws
Maker: Quentin Machiels

17. What base will you add to your Matrix Sentinel model? Is it a custom base?

No, it’s the base you get with the Matrix Sentinel model for 3D printing. It’s perfect for what I needed.

3D printed base for Matrix Sentinel machine model
Maker: Quentin Machiels

I added a lot of black, stain and some touch of copper to make it blend with the Sentinel figure. I pretend it to be a dirty charging station for the Sentinel machines located in the darker corner of the tunnels under the machines’ city.

Matrix Sentinel figure
Maker: Quentin Machiels

18. Where is your impressive Sentinel machine displayed?

Like I said it’s close to 2 kg (4.4 lbs). I currently display it at home, but Sentinel will soon join my collection of printed things at my work office. I still have space there for him and the APU. On his base, the Sentinel is 31 cm (12 inches) tall and more than 70 cm (28 cm) long with the tentacles extended.

Matrix Sentinel swarm
Maker: Quentin Machiels

19. How many 3D printing models from the Matrix universe did you make?

Only the Sentinel figure. And I am thinking of making the Matrix APU model for 3D printing.

20. What project are you printing now?

I’m still printing my proton pack from Ghostbusters. Then I will work on the APU model. It will be a long-time project.

3D printed Sentinel machine
Maker: Quentin Machiels

21. Is there anything else you would like to advise Gambody enthusiasts?

Don’t fear to ask Gambody for adding modifications to the model if you need them. The support is excellent! And the 3D printing models are cool and well thought. They are affordable and with tons of promotions all year round. It’s a no brainer for some of the models you can only find there.

As you can see, the Matrix machines exist beyond the films. You can quickly build your swarm at home using a 3D printer, once you order Matrix Sentinel model STL files on Gambody – Premium 3D printing marketplace. Make sure to join Gambody 3D Printing Community on Facebook to showcase your 3D prints, discuss trends and see what other hobbyists 3D print all year round.

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