The real life WALL-E that visits newsrooms, tradeshows, and media had to look like the animated WALL-E from the movie. It takes a lot of care to make WALL-E look old and battered.
Because the animated WALL-E from the movie has been around for a long time, his digital body had been weather-worn and beat up by the work he does – compacting trash and stacking it neatly. Computer animation allowed animators to create the look and feel of a well-worn WALL-E, but transferring that same look and feel to a ‘real’ robot was another story.
Pixar used sophisticated computer graphics to create the digital representation of this fun-loving robot. This digital data was well suited for rapid and precise fabrication of all of the external covers that comprise WALL-E. Disney’s Imagineering team chose to have those covers created on an SLA rapid-prototyping system.
The form, fit and overall appearance of the prototype SLA covers were validated with a working robot. Then final covers were prepared. These final covers for the traveling robot needed to be significantly tougher than the initial SLA covers, so advanced cast urethane covers were reproduced using a silicone tool created from the SLA masters. The Imagineering team has been a bit secretive about the details, but here’s how that process often works.
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