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Converting Apple Adapters into Robots

One of the benefits of a lockdown for Corona is the time we are able to spend in and around our house. To clean up, or to fix things. When I was cleaning out my tech corner I came across just too many Apple Duckhead Euro Plug Adapters, or whatever these are called.

Piled euro plug duckhead adapter apple

What to do with these? I had planned to bring them to the municipal waste company to have them recycled. But they simply looked too cute to bring away! They looked like little robot characters to me, so I decided that this was exactly what they would become. They just lacked a nice pair of shoes.

I started out getting the dimensions of the adapter.

Dimension sketch

Next step was to fire up Altair Inspire Studio. This software has a Sketch functionality to exactly draw the adapter parametrically. It also contains a unique tool called PolyNURBS, to draw and edit polygonal models with NURBS precision. This was exactly the tool I needed to create the feet.

I started out to bring the sketch into Altair Inspire Studio.

Studio sketch

Using sketches as a base combined with solid objects, boolean operations and rounds I quickly created the adapter. It took me about an hour to model it.

Studio adapter

Now I had the base to design the feet. I started out drawing a PolyNURB block around one of the ‘legs’ and started sculpting the shape. I extruded faces, sliced edges and translated the geometry using the vertices, edges and faces.

Studio polynurb foot closed

As you can see the polygonal shape is nothing special and very easy to edit and understand. Altair Inspire Studio is able to convert the polygonals using SubD into real NURBS geometry instantly and automatically. It can directly be combined with the other NURBS geometry without any limitations, so I was able to subtract the metal ‘legs’ from the shoes.

As you can see the shape is still editable to finetune.

Studio polynurb foot open

The shoes are ready. Using the realtime Thea Render capabilities inside of Altair Inspire Studio I made a render to quickly see how the shoes would look like.

Render feet euro plug duckhead adapter apple

And in its entirety.

Render euro plug duckhead adapter apple

I really liked the end result. Next step was to convert the NURBS shoes into a mesh for exporting as STL to the 3D printing slicing software. Again, this was done inside Altair Inspire Studio so that the link to the original geometry was retained for future editing.

Studio stl

In Ultimaker Cura, I decided to set the layer height to 0.1 mm. This would ensure enough detail for the small objects and as little ‘stepping’ as possible on top of the shoes.

Cura slicing

Adapter robot Ultimaker

It took about 26 minutes to print a pair. After breaking away the brim it was time for the first fit session.

It appeared that the holes in the shoes were a little tight, but this was no problem as it assured a firmly locked shoe.

The robot tended to fall backwards just a little, so I decided to go back into Altair Inspire Studio and rotate the shoe soles 1º backwards. I also changed the heel to point to the back just a little bit more.

Studio adjust angle

This is really where the power of Altair Inspire Studio lies. It is so easy to just look up the source geometry in Construction History and edit in real time. The mirrored copy, the meshed version, everything was updated automatically.

In a design process, especially combined with a 3D printing process, it is absolutely necessary to be able make changes quickly and easily and Altair Inspire Studio provides just that.

After another 26 minutes of printing, the Adapter Robot was born:

Studio adjust angle


If you want to download the STL and STEP files, Please see here.

Have fun!

Orlando Sardaro - Design8 bv

Playmobil and adapter robots

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