Robots with feelings

I got a little older recently, and one of my kind friends sent me this:

3D Print

Not much to look at, right? For starters, it's pretty cool. It's a 3D printed... thing... made by my friend's 3D printer in his home! (aside: This totally means we're living in the future now, which is just the best thing ever.)

It came with a note explaining how to view it properly. Suddenly holding it up to the light and the familiar face of my friend "Sparky" came into sharp focus. Upon closer inspection the plastic had been printed in thicker layers where the face had shadows, so it would look "right" when light shines through it. Really neat item, I'm sure that I'll be told how the whole process works in good time. Perhaps in the comments? *ahem*

Backlit 3D Print

But what does this have to do with robots showing their feelings? Well my cunning thought was that through clever arrangement of the 3D printed item on Sparki's body and an RGB LED, one might be able to have the coloured light shine through the face and let Sparki show his feelings! Of course you'd have to set up a little controller PCB for the RGB LED and have it chat to the Sparki main board. Bit of a project, but not beyond the art of what I'm willing to have a crack at!

I did apply some brain to this, however, before I got to starting a PCB design and noticed this on the Arcbotics website:

Sparki has an RGB LED!

Phew! Now it looks like Sparki will not only look like Sparky, but will also be able to express the full gamut of robotic emotion, including:

Who'd have thought an £80 robot could be so advanced?

3 thoughts on “Robots with feelings

  1. This was made on a Reprap Huxley using 0.3mm nozzle and PLA. Layer height is 0.2mm and max height is 2mm (I think, forgot to write it down), so there are 9 different contrast levels.

    You can do this for any photograph using the excellent script developed by amandaghassaei ( There is further explanation and instructions on the settings for a Reprap in Peter Blacker's blog here I had to repair the stl after generating it using Netfabb before slic3r would accept it.

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