3D PRINTING GOOGLE’S PERSONALISED ANDROID MASCOT

Always a highlight in the world of cutting-edge tech tradeshows, this years  Mobile World Congress 2015 certainly lived up to expectations, providing the perfect forum for the world’s best and brightest tech companies to showcase their wares.  Amongst these and all-pervasive was Google with its Android Partner Walk, a Mobile World specific activation designed to underline the customisable, open-source nature of Android, as championed by the tech giant’s official partners, all of whom featured 3D printed versions of their own unique Androidified characters.

Android’s USP is its open-source nature, its usability, and the Android logo - affectionately known as ‘the little green man’ - was specifically created to be customisable back in 2007. ‘The idea was to create an open source logo … that was released to the developer community without regular brand guidelines,’ says then-staffer Irena Blok, who masterminded the design process. ’It quickly became consumer-facing with millions of people creating their own versions of the logo every day.’ Google has since launched its highly successful Androidify app, allowing users to personalise the logo, easily and in an unlimited number of ways.

Attendees at MWC 2015 were invited to take part in a three-day treasure hunt in an attempt to collect all 124 unique android pins.  The pins were distributed throughout the exhibition at participating Android partner stands and at the 2 Android ‘Lollipop-ups’, large android shaped structures positioned between the exhibition halls.  Attendees scrambled to try and complete the full collection causing what can only be described as a frenzy!

The participating partner stands could be identified by their unique 3D androidified character positioned on their registration desk.  All Android activity at MWC 2015 was designed and implemented by Creative Agency BrandFuel.

Standing two-foot tall and a real showstopper, the 3D Androidified characters were the work of Propshop, a subsidiary to 3D printer company voxeljet. Known for its model making work in the world of film and related industries, and especially for having pioneered the use of  3D scanning technologies, digital design and 3D printing in a world known for its traditions of real-world craftsmanship, Propshop proved an inspired choice. ‘We were really excited when the brief came our way,’ says Propshop Asset Producer and MD James Enright. ‘The creation of these androids involved various skill sets from digital through to traditional fabrication and fine finishing. Once we’d matched the pantone colour’s and created the graphics for the Androids they were then 3D modelled. The structural elements in place, the figures were then broken out into their component parts and printed on our large format VX1000 printers. We 3D printed 38 charters in component parts, a total of about 500 components. So the VX1000 was really put to work - the print process alone took about two weeks.’ 

The pieces printed, Propshop’s real-world modellers went to work on the final assemble and finish. ‘It was,’ says Terry Whitehouse, Workshop Supervisor, ‘a good size job for the workshop. Hours were spent finishing hundreds of parts to a very high standard, carefully masking and painting with airbrushes. The parts were passed onto the production crew for final assembly and eventually mounted on their bases.’ Testament to the charms of the Androids, the project remains a firm Propshop favourite. ‘By the end of the job,’ says Whitehouse, ‘we were all attached to our little Androidify family! The day we finally had to wave them off to Barcelona was a bit sad all round.’

The strong, quirky visual presence of the 3D printed characters at MWC 2015 proved crucial in making Android and Google the talking-point of the tradeshow. Google’s partners were delighted with the results, Propshop’s 3D Androids hitting just the right note: being both a draw in their own right and at the same time serving as the primary visual cue for keeping the all-important ‘partner walk’ constantly in view.

“The characters were a massive success and proved popular all round. 

We were so impressed with the quality of the finish of each character, a perfect replica and every detail was there regardless of how big or small.” Says Alana O’Regan from Brand Fuel. “Propshop were such a pleasure to work with and we look forward to having another project to send their way.”