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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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]

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.

DIY Panorama Distortion

Even as 3D printing technology continues to advance, there are still limitations as to the availability of detailed color 3D prints. The best commercially available 3D printers use binder-jetting (where colored ink is used in the construction process of the object), which results in a fuzzy, diluted image on the object’s surface.

As an alternative, it may be possible to create 3D prints with detailed surface color by pasting 2D printed images onto the surface of mono-color objects. In order to turn flat, 2D images into shapes that can fit onto uneven 3D forms, I created a program that would alter the proportions of the image so that it can be printed, cut, and pasted in such a way that the image will be evenly displayed over the 3D object.

right: original image;  left: image morphed to fit orb

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below: test pasting image onto orb

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below: 3D printing tests, using symmetrical shapes

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below: 3D prints – symmetrical shapes and Russian nesting doll prototypes after paper images are glued onto them

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Workshop

In order to get outside perspective on whether this approach would be feasible for an average user, we held a small workshop in order to gather feedback. For this case, the workshop attendees would be evaluating the process of cutting out images and pasting them onto the prints. The actual 3D printed models were printed ahead of time (since the 3D printing process can take too long for the span of a workshop). All workshop participants were presented with a set of 3 Russian nesting dolls, and were requested to bring in their own image files to be pasted onto the objects.

below: example set of 3D printed Russian nesting dolls and printed paper images before images are cut and applied to dolls

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below: workshop pictures

Results 

On Cutting Out Paper Shapes – workshop attendees could choose between using scissors or exacto-blade. While all the attendees were able to cut out the shapes, some found the process tedious. Based on this feedback, future endeavors will focus on using laser cutters or similar tools to cut out paper and avoid unnecessary human labor.

On Pasting Paper onto 3D Forms – participants varied how they applied the paper onto the 3D prints. Some brushed the paper with gel medium before applying it to the 3D form, while others lathered the 3D form with gel medium before applying the paper. Both approaches were successful, though it seems applying the gel medium directly to the 3D form was faster.

below: if an extra layer of gel medium is not put on top of the paper, it does not have a glossy finish. While some attendees preferred the matte finish, it does leave the exposed paper at greater risk of abrasion or damage. By using an alternative gel with a matte finish, it may be possible to provide protection to the paper while not giving the object a glossy finish.

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The results of applying the paper to the 3D prints were mostly successful. However, in some cases the paper ended up crinkled or not correctly matched up. For participants who completed multiple Russian Nesting Dolls, the results appeared smoother after their first attempt.

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Certain types of printed images hid the cuts in the paper better than others. Generally, large areas of a single color (especially white) clearly displayed where the paper had been cut. In contrast, designs with bold and complex patterns mask the location of the paper cuts.

below: large white area clearly shows where cuts in the paper occurred

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below: bold and complex patterns make the paper cuts much less visible

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The most consistent problem was applying the paper in such as way that the “head” was completely covered. For many, this resulted in the black 3D print being visible between the strips of paper.

As a potential alternative, we used a different algorithm that would allow the paper to be cut into rectangular strips, as opposed to the curving triangles in the previous models. While this did allow the paper to completely cover the form, the extra overlapping pieces of paper made gluing more difficult. In addition, a fault in the algorithm caused additional warping of the image. Overall, the curving-triangle method appears more successful, although an extra buffer of paper should be added to the design so that the paper will completely cover the form.

left: Paper cut into strips. Overlapping pieces of paper bunch up slightly. No underlying part of the underlying object is exposed.

right: Paper cut into curved triangle shapes. Near the head, part of the underlying object is exposed.

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Participants in the study suggested many possible uses for this technique, including fine art pieces (such as vases), figurines & game pieces, and biological medical models.

Going forward, we are looking to expand the capabilities of the program, so that it will be capable of morphing images to more complicated 3D models. Ideally, this would allow a user to design a complex form in the program and then map a 2D image onto it.

Bio workshop at HeatSync

Hi folks, as we are continuing our work in DIY biology with general public and non-professional biology hobbyists, last week Cass, Stacey and Me conducted a DIY bio workshop at HeatSync Labs in Meza, Az. HeatSync is a community driven maker-space, one of the coolest places I’ve ever been in Arizona. Unfortunately Matt couldn’t make it this time, even though he immensely contributed in organising and planning the workshop.DSC_0414.JPG

The first part of the workshop was about yoghurt fermentation. Cass explained the steps of yoghurt fermentation process and worked closely with the participants in the process. Here are some images.

Then we moved to the second part of the workshop – Gram staining. In this activity participants were asked to follow instructions printed on the card given by us, as well as Cass’ guidance. Everyone was so excited to see the microscopic images of the slides they have created, actually results were awesome!

 

While everyone was partying with bacterias in the downstairs, I was busy connecting the camera of our DIY incubator to the HeatSync WIFI network. Yes, now we have a WIFI camera inside our incubator as we promised in one of our earlier posts!

We left our incubator and some basic materials at heat syncs lab, so that they can play with them in the summer. Hopefully we will get some useful feeds from the camera too!DSC_0411

I’m Piyum, signing off and running to catch the flight to CHI 16 to present our Bio work there. More on that later! Thanks for reading.

Update:

Here we were at CHI 16 poster session.

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Art/ Science of cooking and sustainability.

Hey’all, this is Sunny and I am a new member in the growing family of the SANDS. I am an industrial design student at the Herberger’s and I potentially help in coming up with concepts and aesthetic models for the sustainable solar cooking research project. I assist in designing and finding new ways of using rich solar energy to our advantage and help community find new ways to use this energy for their cooking needs.

The first set of concepts looks into how we could take the french cooking technique “Sous-vide” and figure concepts that could help us in this regard.

So, what is sous-vide? well, Sous-vide is a method of cooking in which food is sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a water bath or in a temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times—96 hours or more, in some cases—at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 55 to 60 °C (131 to 140 °F) for meat and higher for vegetables – our friends at Wikipedia.

I started off by sketching different concepts and making a 3D model on SolidWorks and rendered them on KeyShot. From there we moved on to 3D printing the design for testing. The prints and the forms have come out well and it is on to testing and validating.

Stay tuned for the results!