May 9, 2016 | By Benedict

Base42, a creative technology nonprofit based in Vilablareix, Spain, has used a custom FFF 3D printer to create a visually stunning “water curtain”. The installation, on display at the Temps de Flors flower show in Girona until May 15, uses 128 3D printed nozzles and 64 3D printed valves to dispense water in floral patterns.

Although best known and loved for its role in sustaining life on earth, water has, for thousands of years, proved a reliable source of inspiration for artists. Works such as Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa and Claude Monet’s Water Lilies have become iconic for their vastly different yet equally beautiful ways of depicting water, while modern installations such as Random International’s spectacular Rain Room use actual water to create an immersive and interactive art experience. Base42, part of hackers group Tecnoateneu Vilablareix, might be a technology collective at heart, but its 3D printed “water curtain” is undoubtedly a work of art: 128 controlled water jets fall elegantly downwards in controlled patterns, displaying dynamic images on a fluid screen.

Designed specifically for Girona’s citywide Temps de Flors flower show, which takes place May 7-15, the 3D printed water curtain is the result of eight months hard work from eight members of Base42, a 50-strong group of technology lovers, aged between 15 and 74, who specialize in drones, robotics, 3D printers, and more. While there are no real flowers inside the impressive water curtain, the team, led by project director Josep Maria Escubedo, wanted to participate in Temps de Flors in their own special way: by creating a technological system which could “draw” flowers, as well as other images and words, in water, on a 3 x 2 meter water screen. The result is a stunning piece of visual art, especially at night, when lights illuminate the falling jets to display the floral visuals in all their atmospheric glory.

The end product may appear beautiful in a very natural sense, but behind the 3D printed water curtain is a great deal of technical wizardry. The 64 3D printed valves of the curtain are controlled by four Arduino Nanos, each responsible for 16 valves via an i2C bus, and one Arduino Mega, with WiFi connectivity allowing the team to issue commands to the water curtain. The 3D printed valves direct water to the appropriate 3D printed nozzles, of which there are 128. Around 24 prototypes were tested to arrive at the perfect 3D printed valve, which boasts 20 mS obturation—the speed at which it can “shut off” the water flow after receiving a digital command.

To create all the 3D printed parts for the water curtain, the Base42 team used a custom fused filament fabrication 3D printer (shown below), inspired by a number of existing machines, which uses linear motors on the X and Y axes and a closed loop servo motor for the Z axis. The designers used both PLA and ABS filament to create the 3D printed nozzles and valves, resulting in a round-the-clock printing time of 16 days. All 3D models were designed in SolidWorks and sliced using Simplify3D.

The mechanics behind the water curtain are, according to its creators, relatively simple: 500 liters of water are contained in a tank at the base of the system. A pump pushes that water to the top of the system at a rate of 80 liters per minute, where the water then passes down through the 128 3mm diameter 3D printed nozzles, forming what appears as a 3 x 2 meter “curtain”. To create different patterns in the water curtain, the 64 3D printed nozzles can rapidly alter the direction of the water to one of two nozzles in a pair.

With almost a week left of Temps de Flors, all lovers of horticulture, art, and 3D printing still have a chance to check out the water curtain in action should they find themselves in the Catalonian province of Girona, near Barcelona. At present, Base42 has no plans to commercialize the system, but may display it at other exhibitions in the future.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Denis Hogan wrote at 5/10/2016 1:27:35 AM:

wow, congratulations to all from Australia .

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