Silicon and Acrylic

by Wendy on March 30, 2009

This weekend we got motor-extruded caulk onto our micro controller-controlled rotating platforms.
Since we are still getting acquainted with the medium, we were only able to generate flat designs. Flow rates, cure times and data for how high we can stack/layer beads is still in process. We had hoped to have a form built up by Sunday, but were happy with all the progress nevertheless.

Silicon Extruder

by marky on March 24, 2009

Here’s what I think is the easiest way to build the silicon dispenser. It’s 45″ tall.siliconepooper1

The Crayola Session

by marky on March 23, 2009

Today we experimented with crayons. We gradually heated a hot melt glue gun (that we adapted for crayons) starting at 109 degrees, we notched up the temperature with a rheostat until the crayons melted enough to extrude a bead. At about 113 degrees it worked. We notched the temp up to 127 degrees to try different viscosities of melted wax and feed rates. We discovered that crayons need to be preheated – so a heat tube on an extruder should be the length of the crayon.
We also discovered the pitfalls with melted crayons. The hardened beads are very brittle and, even though it seemed great that they harden in seconds after being extruded, they do not self adhere well. Whatever we create with crayons will probably be very delicate.

So, even though the experiments were encouraging, and they clarified some design questions, we are migrating to a more consistant and robust medium for now. latex caulk (mostly because of time and deadline considerations).

Maker Faire 5/30 ’09

by marky on March 19, 2009

we wanna go!

Carousel Tree Printer – WIP

by marky on March 16, 2009

The two steppers that control the tables rotation and x-axis are installed and working beautifully. I do need a new belt for the rotatory table. The cannibalized carousel-CD player design is a good one for a single extruder – but I will need to revise it when I want 4 (yes four, and I’ll post the sketch tomorrow). Next post should have video too.

The extruder assembly is taking shape and we did our first set of experiments with the extruder and crayons with good success. The current heating element responds predictably to linear increases in voltage up to 119 degrees. then it jumps. I think we will need to pulse-control it and prolly make a separate controller with sensor (thermistor).

According to the folks at crayola, different colored crayons will have slightly different melting points because of the varying clay content in each color. I intend to eventually test 4 color families to for melting point variations – red, yellow, blues and earth tones/blacks.

more tree printer work

by Wendy on March 12, 2009

Today we discovered that we can obtain two motorized axis in one ready made assembly. We cannibalized a carousel 5-disc CD player from the late 90’s and found an amazing $5 solution. Since the motors are standard DC, I’ll have to incorporate some type of position sensing – but that my be a great way to avert the impending shortage of i/o pins on the arduino board.

Also, we are going full bore on fund-finding effort. Next application to submit – blackrock foundation – deadline 3/13.

We also talked about a beach robot that makes sand castles by spitting sand and water as it rolls on one axis.


by Wendy on March 11, 2009

“Tree Printer” – New project

by marky on March 02, 2009

It’s been 4 or 5 days of conceptualization and it may not turn out to be “tree printers”, but, the idea came from the fast-growing robotic enthusiast trend that is called “replicable rapid prototyping machines (or RepRap see them at RepRap machines can “print” their own replacement parts (mostly just frame components, gears and anything other than motors, belts and electronics). The only problem is that the reprapped parts are sorta ugly and monochromatic.
The other part:
Architecture is changing it’s approach this century. The advent of mathematical concepts like the golden mean, euclidean geometry and trigonometry have influenced architecture throughout history. Now calculus is coming to the forefront. Calculus and the power of computers enable designs to be continuously variable in form and scale – just like living organisms grow in nature (see Greg Lynns ted talk). Our next series of art will play with these concepts and hopefully hearken nature.
The first model will be a smaller scale construction with it’s own charm. Suspended over a rotating platform will be

tree growth and calculus

tree growth and calculus

a motorized extruder (probably be built from re-purposed hot-melt glue guns) that moves on it’s x and z axis. Our hope is to extrude melted crayons and wax as the platform spins and the extruder rises and modulates. Theoretically, the device could “print” candles with colorful crayola skins.
I like the idea of recycling kids’ crayons and the eventual possibility of a crayon “color sorter” and an automated means of selecting crayon colors. That’s the start.