This 3D printed robot will be a home appliance

Culture Japan 3D prints a new robot to be your personal assistant, Danny Choo reveals how it was created.

Japan-based designer Danny Choo has created a four-foot tall robot using a 3D printer that he says will become an essential 'home appliance'.

The Smart Doll Plus robot is an evolution of the designer's original Mirai Suenaga robot (or Smart Doll), the mascot for Culture Japan that stood 60cm tall.

The Mirai Suenaga robot was also 3D printed and was controllable from a smart phone, but the new model is capable of walking and picking up objects using its AI.

"The future of home appliances," is how Danny describes his new robot. As well as being able to walk and, within reason, think for itself, the new robot will eventually have IFTTT functionalities, connecting to Dropcam and Nest – becoming a connected device within the home.

The ambition behind the new project stemmed from an upgrade to the 3D printing platform. After moving from a Formlabs Form 1 printer to a larger ATOM 2.0 FDM 3D printer, Danny was able to print at the larger 120cm volume while maintaining the high-resolution detail of the Mirai Suenaga robot.

"The problem with stereolithography printers like the Form 1 is that it gets really messy with a load of liquid that you need to make sure does not get on your skin. Our Form 1 kicked the bucket just after a year of use... the printer paid for itself in terms of the prints that it did for us, so I wasn’t bitter."

Smart Doll printing

Smart Doll outer shells are printed with soft vinyl

While the skeleton and smaller parts for the model are made by Culture Japan's team of artists and printed on site, the outer shell is printed on soft vinyl externally.

Danny explains keeping production localised in Japan is important: “I work with vendors located throughout Japan on the various parts of the Smart Doll body.

"While the costs are on the high side, the workmanship over here is pretty top notch meaning I don’t need to spend all my time travelling to somewhere overseas to watch the production line like a hawk.”

The future is big

The robot is modelled in ZBrush and tweaked in 3ds Max while two CAD packages are used to design the frame and moving parts, SolidWorks and Pro/ENGINEER. Netfabb is used to prepare the models for 3D printing.

3D printers were used to create the internal frame, for prototyping and to set the copper molds for that the soft vinyl pours into.

Smart Doll

Larger dolls will perform more complicated tasks

While many of his fans are disappointed that production has switched to the larger size, Danny is excited for the future potential of his new 3D printed Smart Doll Plus: "My goal is not to please everybody – as we all know that is the key to failure.

"But making Smart Doll Plus in this size makes so much more sense and the additional ability of her being able to walk and do the shopping is a game changer."

See the process for making the original Smart Doll here:

Words: Danny Choo

Born in the UK, Danny now lives in Tokyo and is the creator of Culture Japan which creates TV Shows, character content and the fashion doll robot. This article was originally published in 3D World issue 196.

Liked this? Read these!