Making… Paint!

Electrolysis of water for side effects

Back in late August, when we did the experimentation with ferrofluids, I discovered-for-myself an interesting process for making the requisite Fe3O4, aka magnetite. Through an electrolysis process, and then some other steps, I was able to create a fair amount of magnetite from iron screws. I ditched this process in regards to ferrofluids, but eventually picked it back up again for making paint pigments.

Yes, real paint is pretty cheap, and there are easier ways to make black pigments, such as carbonizing just about anything (though I don’t know of easier ways to make brown from a scratch process). That wasn’t the point. I specifically wanted to make paintings in which I could claim I made the pigments.

From the time of the Renaissance up to the late 19th century, artists often were engineers and scientists, and vice versa. Leonardo Da Vinci should probably be more accurately remembered as a government contractor in weapons engineering rather than artist. Prior to the industrial revolution, any painter kind of had to be a competent chemists to able to make their pigments. And any student of botany, biology, and other natural sciences needed to be competent sketch artists to be able to record their work.

I strive to maintain a lot of that tradition in my own work, and I think it’s important to know what goes in to the things we make, even if that thing is “just art”.

I started with a beaker full of salt water. Ahem, excuse me, “aqueous solution of sodium chloride”. Right. The sodium chloride acts as an electrolyte to allow the electricity to conduct through the water. Basic stuff here. I’ve got a laptop battery charger with alligator clips holding on to the plug. I have iron screws as both electrodes because I didn’t want to bother making sure I had the right polarity on the charger plug. The screws dangle from wires that are taped to my beaker so they stay in place.

WARNING! This process creates a couple of nasty things. First, there will be a small amount of hydrochloric acid produced in beaker. It won’t be a lot, but if you keep your hands submerged in it for long enough, you could get a slight rash (yes, I speak from experience, from many, many years ago when I accidentally blew up my bedroom as a kid). It also creates small amount of chlorine gas, which is poisonous! For the small scale at which I was working, as well as working in a well-ventilated room, it was not a concern. However, I should have used sodium bicarbonate as the electrolyte, it would have eliminated both of these issues. Alas, I didn’t have any at the time.

It also creates a LARGE amount of hydrogen and oxygen gas, which if you’re dumb like I was when I was 15 and try to collect it, can be quite explosive. You are forewarned!

Iron hydroxide painting

The orange stuff floating in the top of the beaker is iron hydroxide. You might not be able to tell from the picture, but there is a slight green tint to rest of the water. That is also iron hydroxide, in another form. Iron hydroxide is apparently very difficult to control in color. However, I did use a little paint brush to sweep up the orange stuff from the edges of my beaker and make this little painting.

The greenish-black iron hydroxide was what I was after. I actually thought it was the magentite iron oxide that I was looking for at the time, but I’ve since learned otherwise. Black iron hydroxide is slightly magnetic, so I balanced my beaker on top of a large, neodymium magnet to draw the precipitate down to the bottom of my beaker, allowing me to pour most of the water off of the top of the stuff I cared about.

It's kind of like silt

I wanted to boil the rest of the water out, as the leftover looked like diluted ink.  Eventually I was left with a liquid that was quite thick, almost like river mud, meaning it sputtered too much to continue boiling. The material on the edges dried out and turned brown; more on that in a bit. This was at the time we were doing the ferrofluid stuff, so I was very keen on removing the water and replacing it with a very light oil. One of our members suggested using acetone to dissolve with the water and increase the overall volatility, to speed natural evaporation. At the time, I still didn’t know that I only had iron hydroxide, I thought I had iron oxide, so this step was quite serendipitous. Green-black iron hydroxide in anaerobic conditions will oxidize to magnetite! I believe the acetone deoxygenated the water and left water protons for oxidizing the iron hydroxide. It very clearly went from a greenish-black, pluming precipitate to a very black precipitate fell out of suspension very easily and was much more magnetic. It still didn’t make a great ferrofluid (I didn’t have a surfactant, confused emulsifiers with surfactants, got unconfused and tried to use dish soap as my surfactant, and eventually just had a mess everywhere).

Asteroids

But I was intrigued by how dark of a black I had on my hands, and how readily it stained everything it touched (much to our quarter master’s chagrin). At this point, I had something I could start painting with. I mixed a little with some more water because I knew I wanted to do something spattery, and then made this stylistic interpretation of the classic video game “Asteroids”. There is a little bit of a brown tint to it because of an inefficiency in my process, but then I recontextualized and made it part of my process. I made a frame for it out of scrap wood, but I probably should not have. Now it just kind of looks cheesy. Grumble.

I wanted to now take advantage of the brown crust on the edge of my previous boil experiment. I realized that it was actually another form of iron oxide called hematite, Fe2O3. Magnetite oxidizes to hematite in open air under a flame, so I took some of my black material and blasted it under my pipe welding torch. I eventually shattered my shot glass that I was using as an impromptu beaker from overheating. Yet another instance of my lack of preparation and use of proper tools nearly getting me hurt. But I digress.

Steel Bearing

The last painting was difficult to work with because the water took forever to evaporate, which warped the paper I was painting on. This time, I mixed my pigment with acetone. It was more difficult to keep the pigment in suspension, but the much more volatile acetone evaporated much quicker, leaving me with dry paper that didn’t warp. The result was a painting of a steel bearing, which I thought was interesting because I’m technically painting with “rust”.

Entrance

I finished up with the iron oxide by making an ink with it and this last drawing of the entrance to a mysterious forest.

So now what? Now, I’m experimenting with different metals to see what other colors I can get. I know that copper can lead to some green tints, which I’m very excited to try to replicate. I was able to

Mint-green copper hydroxide

make a very, very small amount of copper hydroxide last night, which you can see in the following pictures. I also made a small amount of yellowish brown copper oxide. Unfortunately, it rather readily oxidizes in air to make black copper oxide, which I’m not too interested in as the black iron oxide is easier to make.

Yellow-brown copper oxide

The brown is nice because it’s not as dark as the brown iron oxide, but I’m excited about the possibility of making green.

Oh, I also made a blue flame.

 

We are excited to announce a very hacking winter-time Hive76 open-house hosted by NextFabStudio:

Hive76 Open House
December 20th, 7pm – Midnight
@ http://NextFabStudio.com/ @ 3711 Market Street

This Hack-tacular event will be at NextFabStudio and will get us free access for the night to some of their most awesome tools, such as: CNC plasma, CNC embroidery, e-textiles, electronics, 3D printers, shop bots… Check out all their equipment.

There will be food too.

So Awesome.

Now we need to brainstorm project ideas, let’s start things off in this email thread. Please reply-all so the proper NextFab people (cc’ed above) can tell us if this is possible and, if so, the logistics for how to make it happen.

All details are here on the Wiki

I’m proposing the first project (we can have many of them!!)…

A double-set of Hive76 chess pieces and boards. This will make use of their lasercutters, embroidery equipment, and possibly the electronics and 3D printers too. I really want a double-set (4 different colors) so we can play Bughouse Chess (You will love this game)

If we get really creative maybe some magnetics and electronics could be enabled as well.

Let’s get hacking!

To Join in on the Discussion, please join our mailing list

 

high resolution Yoda printed on Ultimaker
Last week I got to attend the Open Hardware Summit and Maker Faire NYC. Both events were really excellent.

There were so many wonderful things it was hard for me to pick a favorite. That is, until I hit the Ultimaker Booth. Ultimaker is another open source 3D printer offshoot of the RepRap Project. Erik de Brijn, Martijn Elserman, and the rest of their team have been hard at work perfecting v1 of the Ultimaker (and now Ultimaker+). The quality of this machine continues to amaze me (I’ve seen a previous beta version in person at Botacon). New this year, when mixed up with the newest firmware Marlin (which was recently ported to 3D FDM printers and is based on GRBL, the same firmware codebase picked to run Lasersaur), the Ultimaker is able to get insanely high resolution prints. You can get the Marlin firmware for RAMPS and RepRap from HERE on Github.

High mag of Finger on Ultimaker Print. Scale Bar = 1 mm.

Erik gave me one of the high res Yoda prints (Thanks Erik!) which I put under the microscope last week. You can see with the scale bar… we have 162 pixels = 1 mm. The average layer height in that pic is around 12 pixels, or 0.074 mm (That is 74 microns). And that orangey low res looking thing on the left? That’s not a print… that’s my finger. Click the image to see in higher detail!

Apologies to my buddy Dave Durant, but Ultimaker just beat your high res Cupcake record. And they’ve gotten even thinner layer heights than those, recently. Join their google group to learn more and stay apprised of the latest.

w0w. The future for FDM is so bright. Really Amazing.

 

Flying Robots At Hive

Yesterday we had the Philadelphia Robotics Group (PHROG) stop by for their monthly meeting. We demoed a few robots, talked other projects, and we also talked about the possibility of having classes and workshops in the future.

This robot requires 4 rotors to compensate for the amount of torque it generates.

The coolest part of the night was when Glen Adukas demoed his flying quadrotor robot. It still needs a few tweaks here and there, but he was able to get it off the ground.

Our next meeting will be October the 13th. Feel free to join us!

 

Hive Cleans Up

As mentioned previously, on Sunday, the 5th of September, members of Hive76 spent time cleaning up the street at 915 Spring Garden St. The work proved to be hard but rewarding. While there are still significant areas of garbage and weeds, we made a big impact on the areas in which we worked, paving the way for future improvements.

As the coordinator for this particular activity, I really want to give my deepest thanks to our members Mike Hogan, PJ Santoro, and Dan Toliaferro for coming out and busting their asses in the 80+F weather. I also want to thank Dave Sharp for providing some supplies as well as one of our fellow tenants at 915 Spring Garden St. for bringing us water while we were working.

More cleanup efforts are still to come, we really want to develop the garden box and maybe add more garden boxes around the building. We’d also like to spiff the place up a little it with some local art, any sort of standing sculptures that can live permanently in our new garden. If you would like to donate to our cause, with plants or dirt or trees or money to buy such things, then please contact us at hive76@hive76.org.

In the meantime, check out the before and after pictures:

The sidewalk had weeds poking through the cracks and lots of cigarette butts and broken glass.

More sidewalk weeds

 

A completely overgrown garden

The garden from another angle

So we got to work!

PJ was ready!

And jumped right in

All of the weeds are gone from the sidewalk

And the garden is now cleared out of all of the weeds.

Ready for some flowers or maybe some grass

 

Cast-resin 3D printer parts

Red resin gear closeup!

The materials you'll need: resin (left), silicone mold material (colorful buckets), mold release, paper towels, cups, stirrers (for mixing the molding material)

At Hive, we spent part of this summer making a bunch of cast-resin 3D printer parts. So instead of printing these parts up as we’d normally do, we made molds out of silicone mold material, and then filled these molds with resin whenever we wanted a new set.

The materials for this are cheap to acquire and easy to handle – some kind of resin (e.g. Smooth-On 326), and also material for making the silicone masters into which the resin is poured. We used Oomoo, but there are other materials out there. Other than that, you need standard stuff: mixing containers and mixers, napkins, etc.

Why would we do this? Well, in theory it’s easy and cheap if you can do it right, or if you aren’t too hung up on quality. And the parts end up looking extremely cool, especially if you use some tinting in your resin mixture. We created a couple parts sets with this tinting, which looked amazing.

However, we did run into some problems. For example, if you don’t have very elite molding skillz and materialz, you end up having to finish all the parts manually – this means deflashing, and also drilling the dozens of holes that your printer’s rods, bolts, and screws will go into. This takes a lot of time, and is very tough to do correctly. You also run the risk of breaking the parts when you drill them, which means… more molding. There are lots of other things to deal with too – what do you do if one of your master molds breaks? How do you acquire high-quality original parts to base your molds on? Etc.

Interested in trying this out for yourself? Here’s the RepRap Wiki page on the subject, and I’ve also written a lot more about our experiences here.

Tagged with:
 

MAKE Blog Love for Dave Sharp

One of our members, Dave Sharp, recently showed up on the MAKE Magazine Blog in their post on the Lockheed Samarai. You can see Dave piloting the maple-leaf-inspired drone in the video after the jump.

Dave joined us back in early February of this year. He does amazing work with raw fabrication of contraptions. For our exhibits at the PAFA “Grossed Out” event, he built a giant pantograph used with a USB-microscope to etch small designs on microscope slides. It was one of the most complete “DIY” builds I’ve ever seen; extremely clean and professional. Just like Dave.

We love having him as a member and look forward to seeing what else he comes up with.

 

Open House for 8/24

I etched my monogram on my zippo earlier today.

This Wednesday night, during Open House, we’re going to be doing some basic electro-etching. The technique is very simple–requiring little more than a 9v battery, some wire, a cotton swab, some salt water, and nail polish–and takes very little time to get very good results (actually, it works so quickly that you have to be a little careful of eating through thin materials).

I did this earlier today with the back of my Zippo, though I was a little sloppy and went a little too long. I’ll be trying this out with a knife blade on Wednesday, as well as the lid of my computer. Bring your stuff in and let’s have some fun personalizing our stuff.

 

Open House 8/17/2011 Recap

It’s been a while since we’ve had something to talk about for Open House! Believe me, I missed activity at Hive76, too. But that’s what happens in the summer, people jaunt away to far off lands for this thing called “Vacation” and forget to send us post cards. You wouldn’t forget to send Hive a post card, would you? (HINT: Our address is Hive76, 915 Spring Garden St., Suite 519, Philadelphia, PA 19123)

Ira Laefsky, Mike Hogan, Ben Sautner (developer of Nimbits, a “free, social and open source platform for the internet of things on the cloud”) and I had a lively discussion on The Internet of Things. Right now, it’s a very informal group of people interested in such things as home automation and data aggregation. If such things interest you, use any of the means available here to contact me and we will get you on the mailing list.

We have a new membeeeeeeerr! WHAAT? We totally did. Everyone give a big, ol’ “Hi-diddly-hey, neighbor” to David Morfin!

Mighty Morfin Power Ranger
Mighty Morfin Power Ranger

A bunch of faces where in our spaces last night.

Chris shaved his beard and wore contacts. He looks so young! Le rarrrr.

Mike has perfected his privacy security measure, dubbed "Quantum Head Rattle".

Jordan got pregnaaaaaaaaant! WHAT?! He totally did.

Brendan is auditioning for the part of STOP TAKING PICTURES OF ME!!!

And I forgot to get any pictures of myself. Guh, sorry. I know you miss me.

I’m working on rebuilding a toy electronic keyboard:

The case was busted, so I'm building a new one.

The original circuitry. I'll probably have to replace the amp, it's weak.

And we also played with some glow in the dark tape and an ultraviolet flashlight.

Also, take note, we’re going to be restarting the Open House Mini Projects very soon. I’ll post a more formal announcement later, but look forward to custom etching anything you own that is metallic!

 

Build Your Own 3D Printer!

ONLY ONE WEEK LEFT TO SIGN-UP!

In collaboration with NextFabStudio, we are offering a state-of-the-art and upgraded RepRap printer kit and accompanying 3-day Build Workshop from August 26th-28th. The class cost is $998 ($1,200 for non-members) and includes EVERYTHING you need to get up and running, and more importantly, a fully calibrated and fine-tuned robot.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO AND TO SIGN-UP

Check out the time-lapse video below from our first class in Baltimore where we got 10 printers up and running in 3 days.

We’ll help you and a friend or two to build your very own open-source RepRap 3D printer, which has more than 4x(!!) the build volume of it’s closest competitor, the MakerBot Thing-o-Matic. Note that you will save $202 off the class if you’re a member of Hive76 or NextFab Studio. Total class cost for members is only $998. This is a crazy cheap deal! You can’t even buy a MakerBot for that price, let alone learn how to assemble it and fine tune it correctly in just a weekend.

There’s lots of additional bells and whistles on this bot that you won’t find anywhere else: custom machined aluminum motor couplers, linear bearings, the latest RAMPS electronics, and much more!

Any questions or concerns? Click Here to contact Jordan.

First RepRap World Tour 3D Printing Class from jmil on Vimeo.

 
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