SOLS Adaptiv – A Wearable Soft Robot

I was hired by SOLS to help out with their Adaptiv project. The idea was to showcase the procedural modeling techniques, materials, and technologies behind their printed insoles with a futuristic robotic shoe. Jordan Dialto, the industrial design lead at SOLS, approached me in my capacity as lead scientist at Super-Releaser to make a prototype soft robot shoe that could change shape and fit in response to the wearer.

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The external shell (purple) retaining skeleton (grey) and soft actuators (teal) joined together with reference pins to be inserted into the original mesh.

The project started out with an external shell modeled by Continuum Fashion. Although the design was elegant, this posed a challenge for introducing the robotic elements and the engineered components that would stitch everything together. Since the external shell was generated in a mesh CAD program, it didn’t fit into SolidWorks’ reference frame. This meant using the mesh as a reference and generating a simplified surface to extrude the soft robot elements and retaining skeleton from. Continue reading

Glowy Crystal Ring

Do you like 3D printing, mold making, industrial design, jewelry, and RGB LED’s? You’re in luck, then. I just finished this tutorial for Adafruit and think it’s well worth a look.

In this project, I attempted to make an Arduino powered device that was easy to use, easy to make, and self contained. Every 3d printed component can be done in a single build without support material. The ring has a battery, switch, and USB port. Once it’s together, all you need to charge or reprogram it is a USB Micro cable.

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Refurbishing NYC’s Historic JJ Hat Center

A few months ago I was commissioned to restore a storefront over on 5th and 32nd st, JJ Hat Center. They’re long time clients, partners of the good folks over at Pork Pie Hatters. I’ve done a lot of work for them over the years, building their website, designing custom hat blocks, making marketing materials, and creating the branding for their series of handmade hats. This was a whole other level of project, though.

To start, the building used to be an IBM adding machine factory and showroom. When JJ’s took it over, they installed a lovely wood exterior. So, on the plus side, there is a lot of old NYC richness both inside and out. On the downside, the wood exterior had fallen apart in the intervening years. Part of my job was to see through the decades of wear and tear and come up with a plan for refurbishing everything to resemble the original without spending thousands on custom parts. Fortunately my friend Clark put me in touch with a few very talented carpenters. So, with some meetings and design drawings, they were rolling on building the elements for the exterior. Continue reading

Lock Pick Earrings

A year or so back my long time hacker friend Dichro made some lock pick earrings to wear in case of emergencies. Di asked me to give a go at some slim, elegant, sophisticated ones that pass as everyday jewelry. After some poking and testing and experiments, I believe I’ve come up with just that.

[code]An elegant accessory, perfect for quick escapes, late nights, and lost keys. These acid etched stainless steel earrings are lightweight and feature a selection of picks, rakes, and a tension bar. They’re decked out with silver plated rings and ear hooks.[/code] Continue reading

Parametric Hat Blocks

As part of a series of projects for Pork Pie Hatters, I’ve been reviving some old hat making equipment through a combination of laser cutting, CNC milling, and some older tried and true fabrication techniques. My favorite of these projects has been a series of hat blocks designed in SolidWorks and milled in ash.

The five Phrenology hats: Adler, Kinsey, Maslow, Freud, and Briggs.

The goal has been to recreate a number of classic hat styles for a complete production run of custom hats. The hats themselves are being fabricated at the Pork Pie Hatters Williamsbug shop. The major challenge of this project has been to recreate a complete series of hat blocks from a series of reference forms and drawings, keeping in mind the key elements crucial to each particular hat style. It would be simple to make a series of hat blocks fit for a complete set of head sizes by taking a single design and scaling it up or down. But, the crucial gesture of each design would be lost. The features like pinches in the front, the curve of the ridge along the crest of the hat, the indent at the top of a pork pie, all shift and scale independently to work holistically on different sized heads. Continue reading

Narwhal BBQ Skewers

Over the past few months I’ve been working with Melissa Dowell to make these lovely Narwhal Skewers and now (after a good deal of prototyping, experimentation, poking, and prodding) they’re finally out. The process that went into these is actually kind of fascinating first because of how difficult it was to hone in on the right way to design these in CAD and secondly because of how many different directions we explored before finally landing on the final design.

Left to right: The earliest narwhal sculpt by Melissa, the first printed prototype, and a revised prototype.

The whole project started with some sketches from Melissa. From there we chatted about ideas, industrial design considerations, and manufacturing constraints. I felt that it would be reasonable to fasten a twisted rod into a cast metal handle and we could core out the handle to provide both the fastenings for the rod and minimize weight and material.

Melissa sculpted an oversize polymer clay narwhal that we finessed and modified until it had the desired gesture and proportions. From there, we took it to Numidas Prasarn to get the thing scanned and digitized. Continue reading

Laser Cut Hat Stands

I’ve been designing things for Pork Pie Hatters for a year, now. This has included their site, a custom door, some signage, an extra large stamp, a series of hats, and a host of other things. Recently, we’ve been talking about displays, interior decoration, and finding ways to maximize the hats on display while keeping a lid on the clutter. The main problem with selling anything in Manhattan is finding a place to put any stock that isn’t out on the shelves, and the problem with buying anything in Manhattan is sorting it into your microscopic apartment. So, I came up with some flat pack hat stands.

The idea is to send folks home with hats on their heads and a flat pack hat stand, so they don’t have to find room in their lives for a hat box. Traditionally hat boxes come as flat cardboard assemblies that you construct into these 2’x2’x1′ nightmares, or they’re fully assembled oval extrusions whose main aim in life is to take up space. Continue reading

Building a Better Bucket

Mold making and casting has been a huge part of my life for years. It started in the SFX industry, making molds and cleaning up parts for robotic snakes on Snakes on a Plane (really), and has become an even more significant factor with the recent soft robotics project. However, one thing has plagued me this whole time: buckets.

There are lots of elegant methods for prepping a mold, squaring away your shop space, keeping everything all clean and science-y, but no matter how you slice things (unless you’re dealing with 50 gallon drums), pouring out gooey slimy liquid rubber always ends up being a mess. I often end up going through several sets of stirring sticks and dipping disposable cups into my material in the hopes of keeping everything quarantined and safe from contamination. Still I end up feeling like a Dickensian orphan, dipping a ladle into what amounts to $200 of runny goo. Continue reading

Foldy Zoetrope

I made little foldy zoetropes to send folks for the holidays. Now that they’re all sent out and people have had a chance to enjoy them, I figured I could reveal the design without anybody feeling less special. I should release the design and talk about the process behind making them. I should have time for that soon. In the meantime, check out the construction tutorial video after the fold. Continue reading