Do you ever dream about work? The technicians at this 3D printing factory in Korea must have some weird dreams. Nightmares even, when they’re making human robot faces and hands for a living. But watching the factory process in action is mesmerizing. And scary. The end result of this robot factory assembly line is robotic faces that look like they’re floating.
The 3D printers use UV lasers to solidify liquid resin, allowing for smoother textures than usual consumer market printers, which often leave unnatural lines. The process creates a structural lattice that needs to be removed. And when you’re making robot faces, that means it hangs out of the nostrils and behind the eyes. While creepy, some part of it seems like it would satisfying. Cracking the lattice is like popping bubble wrap.
We saw the video thanks to Technabob. The company, Glück, shows off the many steps to make these realistic robots. There’s a sand blasting machine to give the faces a realistic texture. And then airbrushed color makes them look truly human. The All process of world YouTube channel has many other videos of assembly lines that are interesting, and weirdly soothing, to watch. Not all of them focus on nightmare robots. They remind me of the montages on Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. The crayon factory was my favorite.
While some companies are working on robots with human faces with a range of realistic expressions, these rely on only a few animated movements. We’re not sure which is more unsettling. Certainly if bioprinted skin was added to either, it would be alarming. The video’s background music is of the calming sort, the kind you expect to be playing while you sit at a spa with cucumber slices over your eyes. But if it was changed to something ominous, the whole tone of this robot factory would quickly become terrifying.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.