Category Archives: interactive materials

3D-Designed Molds for Baking and Freezing

This is a continuation of Melting Materials for Mold Making, where we describe some of our experiments to create molds of wax, chocolate, and jello using 3D printed models and silicone molds.

Here we are presenting new additions to the model making software and further experiments with different types of food.

3D Model Generator Additions

The program we have been using to generate our models works by taking a black and white 2D image and transforming it into a depth map, where the lighter parts of the image are raised up and the dark parts are lowered. In order to save on time and material costs for the 3D printing, we have also made the models hollow in the back.

Below-left: photograph of Antonio Canova’s Bust of Venus Italica. Center: bas-relief 3D model generated from that picture. Right: back of the 3D model

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In addition, we created a version of the program that uses a color signifier (in this case, red) to subtract part of the image from the finished model. This way, the resulting model will not be limited to the rectangular dimensions of the original 2D image.

Below: model generated using the version of the program that subtracts red space. Left: Antonio Canova’s Bust of Venus Italica with red background. Middle: generated model. Right: back of model.

antonio-canova-bust-of-venus-italica copy.jpg  Untitled 3.PNG  Untitled 4.PNG

As in Melting Materials for Mold Making, silicone putty is used to create a negative of the 3D model. All food will then be cast using the silicone putty mold and will have no direct contact with the 3D print. This is because 1) the flexibility of silicone makes it significantly easier to remove molds after they have hardened, and 2) while we are using food safe 3D printed materials, the temperature limits of 3D printed material food safety is not entirely known. For the following food tests, we specifically chose to use Silicone Plastique putty, since it is food safe and can withstand temperatures up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Baking Tests

Before each baking test, the silicone mold was throughly washed and sprayed with cooking spray.

Sugar cookie – We found that Pillsbury sugar cookies (oven, 350 F, 12 minutes) did not closely stick to the mold, largely because of air pockets that formed in the cookie. Below-left: silicone mold. Right: sugar cookie.

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Pancake – While we could not get a complete result with the Aunt Jemima pancake mix, we were able to get some promising details in the pancakes, and further experiments with cooking time / temperature / pancake mix could likely result in a functional pancake mold.

Below-left: (oven, 375 F, 12 minutes) Pancake was still gooey

Below-center: (oven, 375 F, 17 minutes) Pancake was fluffy, though still slightly undercooked. Part with detail (hair) stuck to silicone mold

Below-right: (oven, 375 F, 12 minutes) Significantly less batter was poured into the mold with the hope that it would cook faster. This was successful, and the resulting pancake was fully cooked. Part of the pancake was stuck to the mold, but some nice detailing (bun and part of hair) was successfully preserved.

model2-pancake1.jpg  model2-pancake2.jpg  model2-pancake3.jpg

Eggs – The eggs cooked fairly evenly in the oven and were overall easy to remove from the mold without causing any damage. They were also successful in capturing details from the silicone mold.

Sunny side up (oven, 350 F, 12 minutes)

Below-left: sunny side up egg still in mold. Center: egg removed from mold with yoke still intact. Right: yoke broken open

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Whisked egg (oven, 350 F, 12 minutes)

Below-left: whisked egg still in mold. Right: egg taken out of mold. Part of the egg was still slightly gooey, which caused a chunk of the hair to become stuck to the silicone mold.

model2-egg2-1.jpg    model2-egg2-2.jpg

Freezing Tests

Liquid was poured into the silicone mold and then placed in the freezer overnight. Overall, the frozen models were the most successful in capturing fine details from the silicone mold.

Below-left: ice (frozen tap water). Right: popsicle made from Bolthouse Farms breakfast smoothie.

model2-ice.jpg    model2-popsickle-1

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AME to host TEI 2019

Our bid to host TEI 2019, the fourteenth International ACM Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction at AME has been officially accepted!

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We will host the conference in Tempe Arizona, a vibrant and growing Sonoran desert city. The main venue, the Tempe Mission Palms, is walking distance to the ASU Campus and in the heart of Tempe shops, bars, and galleries. The conference rooms, AV services, catering, palm courtyard, and rooftop pool reception deck will offer a flexible meeting space for academic and social gatherings during the conference. Phoenix is well known as an ideal winter destination, boasting average high temperatures in February ranging from 68 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit and a low chance of precipitation, while much of the rest of the northern hemisphere may be suffering from severe winter weather.

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Hybrid Materials

Our bid proposed the theme of Hybrid Materials with the aim of strengthening transdisciplinary tries across the tangible interaction, HCI, material sciences, social sciences, and arts communities. Gaining increasing momentum over the last five years, the material turn and its effect within HCI has generated development in numerous fields of interest to the TEI community.

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Over the past few years, TEI research has increasingly embraced hybridity, whether through material explorations of composites such as bioelectronic, on-body, or active materials, or theoretical inquiries into socio-technical systems as hybrid assemblies. The theme of Hybrid Materials will continue to catalyze this exciting trend of tangible interaction research at the intersection of social, technical, biological, and artistic systems. Topics focusing on hybridity in interaction design include but are not limited to:

  • active materials
  • materiality
  • material as interface
  • expressive computing
  • human perception
  • bioelectronic systems and interactions
  • on-body computing
  • new materialism
  • computer as material
  • sociotechnical assemblies
  • design things
  • seamful computing
  • hybrid sense-making
  • transdisciplinarity and HCI
  • rapid prototyping
  • participatory design
  • productive tensions in design

Thanks to everyone who helped and contributed to our bid. On behalf of AME, we are really excited and very honored to host the conference in 2019!

Our full bid document [PDF]

Tracking Artist Hand Movements

Recently we started a new project to analyze hand movements of artists while they are drawing on a physical drawing canvas. The goal of this project is to uncover the latent elements of the creative process of artists while they draw on a canvas and combine them with the final static art piece to create a novel art experience. To achieve this we capture the hand movements of the artists while they are engaged in the drawing process. Then the captured information is displayed as part of a visualization that will be superposed into the actual art piece to create dynamic form of art.

In our first experiment we used a LEAP motion sensor to capture the finger and palm position of the right hand(drawing hand) of artist while they draw on a paper mounted in easel. Then we create a dynamic visualization by plotting the angle between the right index finger and the center of the palm over the period of drawing.

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Hand movement superposed on the original art work

Since the LEAP’s spatial location data is not very accurate, now we are building a new experiment setup. The new system is composed of an easel with two cameras: one to capture the vertical position of the drawing instrument and a second one that captures its horizontal position. A LEAP motion sensor is also used to track the finger and palm during the drawing process. At the end LEAP’s data will be combined with data captured from 2 cameras accurately re-produce the finger and palm movements of the artists. Following image shows our new setup.

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Melting Materials for Mold Making

While 3D printers have become more accessible, it is still relatively expensive and time consuming to generate 3D prints. In addition, the materials commonly available for 3D printing are limited to certain types of plastics. We wanted to explore the possibilities of broadening the affordability and material variety for making multiple models by using traditional mold-making with 3D printed sources. This way, by 3D printing a single model, users would be able to create multiple finished molds using a variety of materials.

Crayon – Solar Heating

As an early experiment in melting materials, we used solar heating to melt Crayola crayons into different shapes. Crayons have a relatively low melting temperature, becoming completely molten at between 120-150 degrees fahrenheit, which is an easy temperature to reach while sitting outside in Phoenix, Arizona during early Autumn.

left: fused crayons after heating; middle: cut up pieces of crayon before being heated; right: pieces of crayon fusing as they melt

Wax – 3D printing tests

Since we wanted to make these models useful for molding several different types of materials, including food, we wanted to insure that the 3D printed models would be food safe. The main ways to insure that a 3D print are food safe are to 1) use a food safe printing material (some types of PLA are food safe, but it is important to check with the manufacturer), 2) use a 3D printer that has a stainless steel extruder, 3) wash the 3D model with antibacterial soap, and 4) spray the model with a polyurethane spray to prevent the risk of bacteria growing in small cracks in the 3D print.

For testing the viability of the 3D models as molds, we used wax as a test molding material, since wax is solid at room temperature but can melt at between 110-150 degrees fahrenheit (depending on type of wax), and so is easy to melt using normal household items.

The first 3D print prototype used a raised image inside of a hollow cube, with the hopes that the wax could be poured in when hot and would be removed easily once hardened (a no-stick spray was applied to the 3D print before the wax was poured in). However, it appeared impossible to remove the wax from the model intact. By putting sheets of saran wrap between the wax and the 3D model, it was possible to remove the wax once dried. However, the resulting wax molds were unable to properly adhere to the shape of the 3D model because of the presence of the saran wrap.

left: first 3D printed model; right: the only way to remove the wax molds in one piece was to place a layer of saran wrap in between the plastic model and the wax as it melts. However, that resulted in the wax not adhering to the shape of the 3D model well.

After the first model proved ineffective for casting wax, we created a second model which had a hollow bottom, in the hope that the wax mold could be pushed out of the model once it had hardened. This did succeed, but it was still fairly difficult to remove the wax mold and there was some surface abrasions to the wax.

left: liquid wax cooling inside the second model. The model was placed on top of wax paper to prevent the liquid wax from leaking out from the bottom of the model. right: resulting wax model. While a marked improvement from the previous attempts, it was still difficult to remove from the 3D print and had sustained minor damage.

Wax – Silicone mold

Because the wax was proving difficult to remove from the inflexible plastic 3D prints, we chose to look for possible in-between methods of transferring a 3D print into a molded material. We decided to use silicone putty, a material that starts out with a texture resembling play-doh but will solidify into a permanent shape while still maintaining flexibility. To create the silicone mold, silicone putty was spread around a 3D print and left to dry. Afterwards, hot wax was poured into the silicone mold, whose flexible properties made it much easier to remove the wax after it hardened.

left: original 3D print; right: silicone mold that was created from dried silicone putty that was molded around the 3D print; bottom: resulting wax piece that was cast in and removed from the silicone model. Despite being much thinner (and therefore more fragile) than the previous wax molds, the wax piece was removed from the silicone with significantly less damage than the wax tests that were cast directly in the 3D prints.

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Given the success of molding with wax, we did some preliminary experiments with food materials using the same silicone mold, which was created from a type of silicone putty that has been designated and labeled as food-safe.

Chocolate

The chocolate tests were mostly successful, with the only notable problem being that the surface detail of the chocolate molds appear to have lumps or pockets in their surfaces. This may be caused by air pockets being stuck under the liquid chocolate as it is poured into the silicone mold, or the type of chocolate that was used (standard chocolate chips) is not designed to remain smooth after being melted and re-solidified.

Gelatin

The success of the gelatin molds varied based on the type of gelatin that was used.

below: When using Jello brand gelatin mix, the resulting gelatin did not maintain its shape when being removed from the silicone mold.

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below: Alternatively, coffee agar mix (which is intended to be cut up into cubes or other shapes after hardening, and thus was designed with greater internal resilience than Jello) was easily removed from the silicone mold without any damage.