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[Amitabh] was frustrated by the lack of options for controlling air pressure in soft robotics. The most promising initiative, Pneuduino, seemed to be this close to a Shenzhen production run, but the creators have gone radio silent. Faced with only expensive alternatives, he decided to take one for Team Hacker and created Programmable Air, a modular system for inflatable and vacuum-based robotics.

The idea is to build the cheapest, most hacker-friendly system he can by evaluating and experimenting with all sorts of off-the-shelf pumps, sensors, and valves. From the looks of it, he’s pretty much got it dialed in. Programmable Air is based around $9 medical-grade booster pumps that are as good at making vacuums as they are at providing pressurization. The main board has two pumps, and it looks like one is set to vacuum and the other to spew air. There’s an Arduino Nano to drive them, and a momentary to control the air flow.

Programmable Air can support up to 12 valves through daughter boards that connect via right-angle header. In the future, [Amitabh] may swap these out for magnetic connections or something else that can withstand repeated use.

Blow past the break to watch Programmable Air do pick and place, control a soft gripper, and inflate a balloon. The balloon’s pressurization behavior has made [Amitabh] reconsider adding a flow meter, but so far he hasn’t found a reasonable cost per unit. Can you recommend a small flow meter that won’t break the bank? Let us know in the comments.


Spraying natural fibers to build cotton-candy surfaces

Air pressure, architecture, arduino, arduino uno, Featured, fibers, uno Commenti disabilitati su Spraying natural fibers to build cotton-candy surfaces 


During Fab10- Fab Festival in Barcelona I met Jin Shihui who introduced me to CandyProject, a research project exploring the process of spraying natural fiber to create a non-woven textile that can be used to produce anything from building components to ornamental artifacts.


By means of air pressure we separate the fibers from a roving allowing them to self-organize and reassemble due to the surface tension caused by a fine mist of adhesive. This creates a controlled fibrous aggregation producing an emergent morphospace encompassing the initial substructure.

The robot Jin is holding in her hands in the picture above uses air pressure to separate fibers into individual strands. While the fibers are still separated they are embedded with an adhesive spray and all parameters are controlled within the robot  with an Arduino Uno:

Designing an end effector for the robot to precisely spray the fibers allowed us to predefine the spraying protocol of any object, while also modifying the material properties at each of its parts. Varying degrees of material density, thickness, and rigidity could be achieved by simply adjusting certain parameters in the spraying process while always insuring repeatability and precision. Controlling these properties, coupled with the environmental and thermal nature of the fibers used, opens up a wide range of possible applications ranging from optimized building envelopes to furniture and custom made fashion. We want to share details of our project  so everyone can  build your own spraying tool and develop your usage with this technic.

Take a look at the video below showing the whole amazing process from growing to spraying the fibers:

Some other pictures of the project developed by a team composed by Jin Shihui, Ali Yerdel, Jean Akanish, and Alexander Dolan, during the Master in Advanced Architecture in 2012-13 at IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia:

Kuka at work Kuka at work Demo area at Fab 10 Candy Tool with Arduino 1 -


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