Tag: art


The ‘speaker grill’ of RDO_002 could not be included in the vacuum formed shell since it is a series of undercuts. Therefore a separate piece was built on the FDM and needed to be ‘scabbed in’ afterward. We could just have glued it in place and filled any gaps with body filler but this tends to shrink and crack with age and abuse. So I used my ‘dissolved ABS shavings’ method (mentioned previously).

The part to be inserted was traced around and cut out. I do straight sections with a scalpel and whittle away at curves with a rotary cutting tool. The edges of the hole are cleaned up with a (high quality) file.

The part to be inserted was held in place (on the show surface) with masking tape and both parts were fixed in place on a sheet of Aluminum.

I made some shavings from the off cut of ABS plastic (with a deburring tool – the thing with a red handle in the picture) and dissolved them in Acetone (in a glass, ex-apple juice bottle). The Acetone/ABS slurry was painted onto the joint making sure to overlap both pieces. It bites right into both parts and makes the whole thing as one. The melted area stays ‘chewy’ for a while – so it was left overnight to set up.

The parts were now fused but the joint line was still visible with a small gap.

Most of the show surface was covered with masking tape leaving a small exposed area either side of the joint line. This was painted with more Acetone/ABS slurry. As the slurry was getting ‘chewy’ it was trimmed and the masking tape removed to prevent it getting stuck under the fused ABS.

Again it was left overnight to set up. After some sanding, RDO_002 now has a ‘speaker grill’ that won’t shrink or crack or pop out if too much flex is applied to the shell.

I also made the handle for RDO_002 while waiting for Acetone/ABS slurry to set up.

TST_003 now has a linear servo for the toast cycle and the chassis was adjusted to be lighter.


The gubbins have been fitted to the robot shells. Some cosmetic work has been done and  progress has been made on integrating the mechanical and electronic components.

Shawn O’Grady in the UM3D Lab built some parts for RDO_002 on the FDM. Since the build envelope on this machine is so small the ‘speaker grill’ had to be built in two halves. However, I took some shavings from an off cut of ABS plastic and dissolved them in Acetone. This makes a great glue. I had used this technique with ABS sheet stock before, but not with an FDM part. It worked out even better than I expected – the Acetone/ABS slurry wicked right into the part and the whole thing is one piece, now.

One of the big challenges left to overcome is the specific mechanism for the toaster cycle of TST_003. In the picture below you can see the toasting ‘drawers’ mocked up in cardboard and masking tape to see what potential interferences there might be.

Testing MXR_011’s ‘spin cycle’.

RDO_002 is too cute for its own good.

Using a servo and a gear to prototype the toasting mechanism of TST_003 was less than encouraging.

As an alternative, I’ve ordered a linear actuator. If it works this should free up some real estate and get rid of some additional weight.

In the THR_33 installation, the robots will ‘live’ on counter tops within the tea-house structure. We need a way to keep the robots from driving off the edges. Osman Khan accelerated the development of this  by writing some code for some QTI sensors so the robots will follow a line.


The robot shells have been trimmed and a second set was vacuum formed (just in case).




Now begins the process of structural, mechanical and electrical integration with the shells of the robots.


More process:

Mark Krecic prepares the vacuum forming machine.

Heating the ABS.

The soft ABS is lowered over the pattern.

The air is sucked from the platen…

… pulling the ABS over the form.


The patterns are removed from the ABS.

Most of the sheet stock is removed and the parts can be trimmed to size.


CNC Milling the robot shell master patterns (Mastercam assistance provided by Zack Jacobsen-Weaver).

Milled robot shell pattern located in a ‘pocket’ to prevent the piece flying off the machine.

The robot shell patterns after milling – some trimming and assembly required.

The forms coated with plastic resin glue. These will be used as patterns or ‘bucks’ for vacuum forming.

The forms sanded and polished (2 days of rubbing) and ready to have hot plastic pulled over them.

Chris Johnson and Westley Burger with a test section of the tea-house skin.

Various options for the laser cut Acrylic connectors between the paper layers of the skin.

A test panel of the vertical, moving elements of the tea-house structure.


The ‘Tea House’ Structure
Conforming to the traditional dimensions of a Japanese Tea House of 9’ x 9’ x 6′, the space provides a series of interactions between user and space, space and robots.

The best kitchen aide you’ll ever have
Automatic and Autonomous – true multi-tasking and sensing in one appliance.

Most extensive dynamic tunable capabilities from both in-orbit and deep space sources.
Don’t buy any other all-in-one media device.

Fastest of all sense-enabled toasters.
New and improved user-recognition settings.

For the “THR_33 (Teahouse for Robots)” exhibition (The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan. Friday, July 9 – Sunday, August 22, 2010).

rootoftwo and PLY Architecture – with help from Osman Khan, Zack Jacobsen-Weaver, Chris Johnson, Westley Burger and Robert Yuen.


We are cranking on ‘THR_33‘.  Some ‘in progress’ images:

A test render of the re-designed exterior shell of MXR_011.

A test render of the re-designed exterior shell of RDO_002.

Test renders of the re-designed exterior shell of TST_003.

An early test of the chassis/electronics for TST_003: