Apr 6, 2016 | By Kira

Fans of the 1997 Disney classic Flubber, rejoice! Ed Zarick, fire fighter and self-taught 3D printing engineer, is designing and building a functional 3D printed Weebo, the charismatic flying robot and assistant to Professor Philip Brainard, played by the late, great Robin Williams.

Previously, Zarick brought us his fully functional, life-size 3D printed BB-8 droid, which was his first robot ever and an entirely impressive success story. His next project, a 3D printed R2D2, was meant to continue the Star Wars theme, however while waiting for backordered parts to arrive, he decided to take on an even bigger challenge: 3D printing Weebo from scratch.

Whereas blueprints for the always-popular BB-8 and R2D2 droids can be found across the web, to our knowledge, nobody has ever attempted to 3D print a functional Weebo replica, which drew Zarick to the case. “It is fun to make a BB-8 or R2, don’t get me wrong, but there is something about coming up with everything from scratch,” he told 3Ders.org.

The original Weebo is a floating yellow and grey robot with mismatched, light-up eyes and a stellar personality. In addition to helping Professor Brainard with his off-the-wall science experiments, she could express complex emotions by projecting old-school movie clips onto her LCD screen and could even take Polaroid-style photos.

To make his own 3D printed Weebo as realistic as possible, Zarick is programming her to talk, light up, project original movie clips, and even take and print photos on command.

Zarick began by 3D modeling the Weebo replica using Autodesk Inventor mechanical design and 3D CAD software. Although the original plan was to 3D print the entire robot, he realized that due to the weight of the servos, a 3D printed base plate would be too flimsy. Instead, he used his CNC router to cut a lightweight and sturdy aluminium base.

The rest of Weebo’s body, including her upper and lower shell, support, and add-ons, are entirely 3D printed using ABS and PLA on a MakerBot Replicator 2X, requiring roughly 40 hours of 3D printing total.

One of the coolest things about Zarick’s 3D printed Weebo is that she will actually be able to take instant photos. “In the movie, Weebo takes a photo of the professor and Flubber and prints out a Polaroid style photo,” he explained. “I wanted this same function in mine, even though the Weebo in the film was only set up to ‘spit’ out a picture that was already taken. She doesn’t actually print it, but mine will!”

To achieve this, he is using a Raspberry Pi board and Raspberry Pi camera to take the photos, which will then be sent to a compact, LG Pocket Printer to print 2x3” photos over Bluetooth. “So far, it works great. It’s just a matter of getting it all to happen automatically along with Weebo saying ‘smile!’”

Another insanely cool feature? The 3D printed Weebo will be able to talk and project films from a fully functional screen. Going for full-on authenticity, Zarick has hired a voice actress that can mimic Jodi Benson (a.k.a. the original voice of Weebo and Arial from The Little Mermaid). They will be recording a variety of original lines and ones from the movie, and mixing them with actual movie clips to make Weebo really come to life.

“I have spent countless hours and requested help from people on therpf.com (Replica Prop Forum) to help figure out where all the clips Weebo played in the movie came from. Most were from pre-1950s movies and cartoons, so you can see the difficulty in finding these clips!” he said.

Just like the original, shown above, the 3D printed weebo will have a functional screen to display film clips

The only real difference between the original Weebo and Zarick’s replica is the fact that she won’t be able to fly—but he’s come up with a creative solution for that, too: “She will be too heavy for a quadcopter setup. And even then it would be very loud. So I have also been designing a base/stand for her that will be able to move her that will simulate flight. So when she speaks, she will be able to swing and turn to simulate a hover."

As a child of the 90s myself, I am more than excited to see how the finished, 3D printed talking Weebo turns out. Zarick expects to finish the assembly and programming in the next month or so, at which point he will post a step-by-step build guide on his website, Ed’s Junk. “It has been a great learning experience for me and is a step above by BB-8 since I am trying to accomplish it all on my own from scratch,” he said. “She will end up being of my favorite builds.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Jack Crigger wrote at 3/26/2018 4:08:53 AM:

OMG!! This... this is the stuff dreams are made of... I cant wait to see it!!

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