Keeping projects in balance with DIY robotic device
The Stewart platform is an ingenious robotic device that provides flexible movement of a working surface across six degrees of freedom. Often used to support flight simulators and telescopes, they are also an essential component of many serious university projects.
After observing that more time is often spent on preparing a reliable platform than on the project itself, Dan Royer has set out to build a standard platform that universities can make use of across a range of projects.
Large Stewart platforms use hydraulics to manipulate heavy loads quickly and precisely. Currently, Dan’s version works on a smaller scale using a platform built from laser cut wood with stepper motors providing motion control.
It is quite a challenge to deliver mechanical precision that is also strong and smooth when in motion. The test rigs that Dan has constructed are powered by Adafruit’s stepper motor controller boards, all driven by an Arduino. The task of keeping all six stepper motors working together is particularly tricky, so in pursuit of the most stable outcome the Gcode demo software is available as an open source download on github.
Creation story features in First Peoples exhibit at Melbourne Museum
Interactive design gurus ENESS have used the latest in digital manufacturing technologies to give form to the spiritual history of one of the world’s oldest continuing cultures.
First Peoples is an exhibition at the Melbourne Museum in Australia, where the creation story of Bunjil, a mythic wedge-tailed eagle, has been brought to life in the form of a 2.2m kinetic sculpture.
The stylised laser-cut acrylic feathers undulate with mysterious rhythm, while a computer controlled projection is mapping graphics simultaneously onto each blade in real-time, driven by motion-tracking and some sophisticated custom software. A song-like narration read by Aboriginal actors guides the viewer, as the display literally glows and pulses with life.
“…the scuplture simulates the omni-present nature of creation and universal motion. Visitors are meant to be inspired in the same way Victoria’s first inhabitants were by Bunjil’s power.”
See more of the story on how the thinking behind this inspirational exhibit; how it was made and also catch a few glimpses of the motion and projection artwork in action after the break. (more…)
Open source micro-factory turns your local laser cutter/CNC into a private IKEA
Exploring new models for open and collaborative digitally fabricated design, OpenDesk aims to become the destination of choice for modern open source furniture.
“By downloading, printing, purchasing or customising an OpenDesk, you’re helping to create a new way of buying products. One that’s more transparent, sustainable and flexible than current manufacturing models”.
With a growing repository of clever, flexible products from a number of designers, the OpenDesk model enables people to choose at what level they wish to engage with the manufacturing process.
The OpenDesk network helps create laser cut furniture from wood and other materials for less
Got a laser cutter of your own, or know someone with a CNC machine just down the road? Then you can download comprehensive drawings that are ready to send straight to the machine. Perhaps you’re not a carpenter or maker yourself but are happy with the flatpack IKEA process. OpenDesk puts you in touch with a workshop in your area, where the design can be cut and finished (oiled, sanded, polished etc) and sent to your door for you to assemble. If hands-off is more your style, there is even an option for a professional to whip it all together for you.
The idea is that the more work you do, the lower the cost will be. Of course, in many locations the OpenDesk network may not yet have makers who can deliver or assemble – so some users will be forced to buy flat-pack or arrange the making themselves. (more…)
Vintage technical publication still grooving after all those years
Before we had those nifty little electronic transistors to build nicknacks and devices out of, machines and the designers behind them relied on mechanical precision to perform tasks. Bringing to light the 1868 publication by Henry T Brown, 507 Movements reveals just how ingenious some of those mechanisms can be… and how relevant they are for today.
Even better than simply a trip down memory lane, this magical repository is just itching to be applied in some 21st century laser cutting projects.
In previous posts, we have taken a look at online 3D mechanical resources and the very handy Gear Template Generator that help to de-mystify mechanical devices. Both of these tools help to get gears working right, but what if you need a little help figuring out which gears or mechanisms to use? That’s where 507 Movements shines.
The movements are represented in both static and selected animated drawings that are kind of hypnotic yet educational at the same time.
To demonstrate how nifty geared mechanisms can be, we’ve included an impressive video after the break (assuming gears are what gets you groovin’) of some creative cogs in action. (more…)
The easiest and fastest way to create your own unique 3D models is about to be released by MakerBot. Eagerly anticipated ever since an early prototype was unveiled in March, the MakerBot Digitizer is just about ready for action. This neat little device will turn almost any (smallish) object you can get your hands on into 3D designs you can share and print.
In an email alert from MakerBot this week, the following info was released that outlines some key features of the Digitizer.
- Simple, yet sophisticated software creates clean, watertight 3D models with just two clicks. - Get a 3D digital design file in just minutes. - No design skills, 3D modeling or CAD expertise required to get started. - Outputs standard 3D design file formats that can be modified and improved in third-party 3D modeling programs, like Autodesk’s free software MeshMixer. - Easily upload your unique scans directly to Thingiverse.com.
Could the MakerBot Digitizer fill a gap in your creative workflow? Hide the cat, and keep an eye on MakerBot for further updates including pricing and availability.
Annual survey returns with a new round of questions for 3D makers
A little over a year ago, the P2P Foundation supported the first ever wide-scale survey of the 3D printing community. Their results made for some interesting findings, a few of which are summarised in the above video.
In an industry where experimentation and innovation play a large role in the daily grind, you’d expect to see significant developments over time. So what has changed in the world of 3D manufacturing over the past year? Is 3D printing still a niche industry? Are we in the midst of the next Industrial Revolution?
The goal of the 2013 survey is to provide insights about 3D printing communities to the people who are actually doing the printing.
Hand-cut mechanical calendar explores the role of pattern in design
Celebrating the role that pattern plays in graphic design, this gorgeous paper calendar series from Singapore-based designer Siang Ching is a mesmerising tactile wonder of the kind that is rare to see in these days of all things digital.
The paper calendar appears as a part of Pattern Matters, a collection of textural hand-cut paper explorations.
Far more than just a visually striking kinetic sculpture, each of the monthly pages contains a veritable numerologist’s delight. When the user turns, twists and pulls the paper components, an informative scientific precision is revealed as dates align with days of the week, lunar cycles and even the number of days from the start of the year.
Ching’s main objective is to inspire other designers to explore the use of pattern in their own works.
“Pattern Matters also aims to demonstrate that pattern is a crucial form of design element… …not merely a decorating tool.”
Click through to see some calendar pages in closer detail, and also a few insights into the construction process. (more…)
Disney Research develops computational design tool for animated figures
Creating mechanised automatons and toys has long been the domain of highly specialised engineers and designers. Yet even for them, it often takes much trial and error to get those tricky movements looking right. This process may soon become something we can all do thanks to a new set of software tools being developed by Disney Research.
The joint efforts of teams in Zurich and Boston were recently presented at ACM SIGGRAPH 2013. It is not clear at this point in time whether the software will be released for the general public any time soon, but the progress they have made is exciting to see.
Read about the set of tools that Disney Research are working on after the break, along with a video that shows both the software in action and some neat 3D printed mechanical critters. (more…)