Light Play

Robot Army(United States)

Category : BEYOND
By Robot Army(United States)

Light Play

Light Play is a kinetic art installation of 84 individually addressable delta robot arms built from 3D printed parts. Each robot is made from bright yellow florescent filament and equipped with a colored LED on its end effector. The collective can be choreographed to preform complex patterns of motion and light, or they can additionally be controlled by a single user’s physical gestures, responding to motion like an extension of the body.

The robots are networked together using the DMX serial protocol and can be controlled with several different input sensors, like the Kinect, Leap, and computer vision. The purpose of the installation is to give those who interact with the robots the sensation that they are intimately controlling a personal army of mechanical minions.

The development of the project from early concept to its completion was carried out by creators Sarah Petkus and Mark Koch. It started in Sarah’s illustrations and later took on the physical form of a functioning robot. To fund the production of the many robots that make up the installation, the design of the robot was offered as a kit on Kickstarter. For every kit sent to a supporter, they were able to afford adding another unit to the installation.

The project is in a constant state of development, as the creators are always experimenting with interactivity and new ways to control their robotic brood.


To build this installation we used 3D printers for both prototyping and for producing the majority of the parts seen in our robots. After fulfilling our crowdfunding campaign and completing the installation, we had printed nearly 4000 individual pieces and gone through 25kg of PLA filament. We did this all on one dual extrusion Replicator, and one Replicator 2.

Support structures for the robots, such as the plastic bases the robots sit inside of, as well as the clear acrylic mounting plates seen in the individual robots themselves, where cut on a 2 kilo-watt industrial laser cutter.

The circuit boards that control the discrete motion of each robot, as well as the overall coordination of the collective, were custom designed in EagleCAD and fabricated through the board house, OSH Park located in Portland, OR.

The original prototype of our delta robot was built by hand with plastic tupperware, coat hangers, cardboard, and duct tape… and as we became familiar with the technology and processes available to makers, such as 3D printing, the design evolved into what it is today.


Creator and hardware designer
Sarah Petkus
Electronics and software designer
Mark Koch


  • Hiroya Tanaka

    Hiroya Tanaka

    Hiroya Tanaka
    SFC associate professor/FabLab Japan Founder

    The creator team developed a large quantity of robots, and their movements are charming and very interesting. Their design for large-volume production is highly sophisticated.

go page top

go page top