3D Printed robot to come to life at Beach Lab

A ROBOT whose body parts can be ‘printed’ using a 3D printer is coming to life, piece-by-piece, in a lab at Aberystwyth University. InMoov will be the first full-size adult humanoid in West Wales and it will interact with the public for the first time at Beach Lab at the Bandstand in Aberystwyth on Saturday 21 June.

Aberystwyth Robotics Club members, Marley Plant and Ferdia McKeogh, with the InMoov humanoid robot.

Aberystwyth Robotics Club members, Marley Plant and Ferdia McKeogh, with the InMoov humanoid robot.

InMoov is made of printed plastic body parts constructed out of Polylactide (PLA), a form of thermoplastic that is pliable when heated and then hardens on cooling. For 3D printing the plastic is forced through the heated nozzle of a 3D printer which slowly builds the forms in thin layers upon layers of soft plastic strands. InMoov’s joints move with the same flexibility as humans. Initially demonstrating simplistic movement, in time the robot will have vision tracking (its eyes will be able to follow objects) as well as sound recognition.

The project has been initiated by Technician Stephen Fearn from the Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science. A Technician of 35 years at Aberystwyth University, Steve has an infectious enthusiasm for making and is an excellent role model for learners and this is recognised through recent accolades. He was highly commended for his contribution as Support Staff of the Year at Aberystwyth University in both 2013 and 2014. This year he received a special commendation at the national Higher Education Authority Science Technology Engineering and Maths (HEA STEM) Technician of the Year Awards.

Beach Lab forms one part of Aberystwyth University’s Community day ‘Access All Areas’, during which there will be free events taking place at the Bandstand, Old College, the Arts Centre and the Sports Centre. They will be taking place between 10am and 3pm on Saturday 21st June. As well as InMoov, there will be other robots on display as well as digital creations and 3D printers.