At a friend's birthday party, Jeroen Domburg behind SpriteMods realized he could use some food dye and a syringe to make very cool jello shots. By putting the needle at a certain position in the jello and releasing some of the dye, he could actually make 3d figures in the jello.
A while ago, a friend of mine turned 25 and held a fairly big birthday party. One of the things he wanted to serve were jello shots: basically little shot glasses of jello with alcohol mixed in. The consistency and sweetness makes for a pretty interesting drink, and he wanted to make 70 or so shots, at least one for every guest. Of course, to test it all out, he had to make a sample batch.
While inspecting the sample batch, I noticed the jello had small bubbles of air captured in them, at various heights. The jello was solid enough to keep them there: they wouldn't rise to the top of the shot glass at all. This gave me an idea: I ran upstairs and grabbed a syringe (I have a couple of them, they're pretty handy as flux dispensers etc) and put some green food dye in it. Now, by putting the needle at a certain position in the jello and releasing some of the dye, I could make 3d figures in the jello.
However his friend, who thought the idea was pretty cool, found the process of creating the figures by hand is not feasible. So Domburg decided to use the components he already had at home to make a 3d printer that could print with food dye in jelly.
Instead of using linear actuators or steppers with belts to get a precise linear movement, Domburg used parts harvested from some old CD-ROM and DVD drives, such as the stepper motors, and mounted them on a wood board. Three stepper motors were used to control the move of syringe needle in all three directions. One of the CD-ROM drive's tray ejector was positioned near the syringe's plunger to push the liquid into the Jello.
Domburg then programmed a bunch of coordinates for the figures, and some logic to move the needle point around. Because of the parts used and its small size, the printer only needed around 10V of power to function, meaning you can power it using a laptop battery and it is pretty portable.
The last part is the ink. After a few tests, Domburg eventually got good effects with a mix of banana liquor, food coloring and some corn starch. "I put it in the microwave for a small while to get the corn starch to turn everything into something that's more like a gel than a liquid. With that, I had something I could make nice lines with." Check out below the two figures Domburg created on his 3D Jello Printer: a box and a spiral:
If you want to replicate this project, Domburg has released the sources under the GPLv3. You can get them here.
Posted in 3D Printers
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