Machine precisely, methodically arranges water droplets


While some projects we feature are meant to perform a useful function or make life easier, others such as this art installation by [Pe Lang] are far less functional, but amazing nonetheless.

Taking a cue from CNC-style machines, his creation is an experiment in falling objects and the properties of water. The machine methodically moves along a small 370 x 330 mm plate that is constructed out of a special omniphobic material. A syringe full of water travels along with the machine’s arm, depositing a single 3.3 mm wide drop of water on the board every few seconds as it moves along. Due to the surface tension of the water, each droplet forms a near perfect sphere on the plate without disturbing any of its neighbors.

Once the machine is finished, it leaves the matrix of water droplets to evaporate, after which the machine starts its careful process once again. It really is amazing, regardless of the fact that it doesn’t exactly “do anything”.

Be sure to check out the video below to see the exhibit in action.

[via Make]


  1. Tom says:

    If the droplets are close enough together I bet you could trigger a chain reaction by over filling one of the droplets, would be cooler than waiting for it to evaporate, lol.

  2. Mooseral says:

    I’d call the placement as occurring a bit more frequently than every few seconds, unless I’m missing something here. Very cool, nonetheless. Sort of a celebration of the wonder of modern science and technology; the kind of thing I’d definitely support in an art gallery.

    Whenever I see something like this, it really makes me think about what science has wrought within our society. Can you imagine an 18th century king’s response to a machine such as this?

  3. yetihehe says:

    It’s just a fancy air moisturizer ;)

  4. Decepticon says:

    With the proper equipment could this maybe be used as a home made BGA reflow/repair machine?

  5. uzerzero says:

    Put some limestone or other mineral in the water supply, space out the drops, and he could create a really interesting stalagmite work of art. Depending on how programmable his rig is, he could even write out messages that would take days to form, a la Leela’s message to Fry in Futurama’s “The Late Philip J. Fry”.

    I really like that even his demo video is done very artistically. Just goes to show how far art and technology have evolved together.

  6. Scott says:

    I was going to say the same thing regarding the limestone or some such thing. It would also be interesting to add another head or two with different colors or uv sensitive dyes.

  7. Ivan says:

    “While some projects we feature are meant to perform a useful function or make life easier, others such as this art installation by [Pe Lang] are far less functional”

    Why would you think is “far less functional”. It just comes to mind, useful this is. Isn’t this the same way inkjet printers work? How soldering points could be methodically applied to circuits? To me, it seems like a very useful machine. I’ve seen less useful things that have not been treated as such. I’m thinking with ink and a nice halftoning algorithm you can create very neat stuff. Flattening the surface with another piece of paper may create an interesting “impressionist” effect on the result also.

  8. Ivan says:

    I’m also thinking on a great way of applying glue in many manufacturing processes.

  9. Hirudinea says:

    If you could come up with a way to add colour pigments to each drop you could have a water colour painting printer.

  10. Ivan says:

    OH crap, I just realized you’re referring to this particular application? Hehehe, I still think they can use it for many things! And I hope they do!

  11. Ivan says:

    @Hirudinea, even a B&W halftoned image (drop/no drop) could look pretty neat!

  12. Rmg says:

    Could do that with a reprap ^^ (and a frostruder)

  13. xorpunk says:

    looks like manufacturing engineering

  14. Alex says:

    That syringe with associated pump/dosage unit is actually meant to administer precise amounts of solder for soldering SMD parts. You set the air pressure and a pulse period, then trigger with a foot pedal.

  15. CRJEEA says:

    Add sodium chloride (resisting the earge to use the word salt in it’s colloquial form) to the water and grow gigantic square crystals (:

  16. Keith says:

    It is always neat to watch something like this, however, I’m not sure what was hacked or created here. The dispensing unit is just doing what they are for whether is is adhesive, flux, or solder paste.

    @Tom, I do like the chain reaction idea.

  17. Maave says:

    Now THIS is art.

  18. Whatnot says:

    You guys are not aware that such processing and positioning is happening massively all over the planet every second of the day? Never watched how-stuff-is-made even? Pfff
    Clearly it’s about the pointlessness and the audio visual experience, and the effort that went into building it without a manufacturing purpose, it is NOT an demonstration of an invention of a device.

  19. Mike says:

    More depth of field plz.

  20. macona says:

    Looks like an Asymtek fluid dispenser. They ust them to dispense all sorts of things, flux, solder paste, adhesives, etc.

  21. Mark says:

    I HATE your last sentence, me being an artist. I’m sorry if you think art is meaningless. This installation is packed with things I can contemplate on.

  22. stormdog says:

    I was wanting it to go back and suck up each individual drop.

  23. Eugene says:

    Dispenser for a gene-chip processor, maybe? This sort of thing is done in analytical instruments all the time. Each point is a reaction that is read optically (absoption, luminescence or fluorescence). Usually the substrate is transparent and moved over a read head.

  24. Jordan says:

    This is a solder paste dispenser…with water in it? Did I miss something?

  25. I’d say:” shine a laser on it laterally (or three – red, green and blue), watch how the light pattern changes as new droplets are being laid down. Should be a fascinating thing to watch!

  26. Invader21 says:

    WATS wrong with a guy having some fun with some probably expensive equipment? everybody here at Hackaday does it all the time! may be that we don’t do it manufacturing equipment but we still do fudge with expensive equipment! he is simply using it for something it may not have been intended for like what many ppl do with their consoles (home-brew, making robots, game backups, excreta). though this is (probably) not really a hack.

  27. grenadier says:

    Can I use this to apply mustard to my hotdogs in an intricate manner? If so then this is win.

  28. wardy says:

    How about using this thing to deposit some kind of conductive epoxy paste onto a non-conductive surface, instant PCB!

  29. cj says:

    Spraying a little soapy water on one of the droplets would start an interesting chain reaction, I’d say.

  30. jackiechanman says:

    i would just love to shine lasers through that or set it up to draw black and white bitmaps! i think it would look pretty epic :)

  31. HeyAllen says:

    While the one I have at work doesn’t have a cnc placement system, the basic syringe and pneumatic system is near identical to what we use to apply silicone adhesive to various items during assembly or to secure wiring after testing.

    Neat system, but as already pointed out, it’s an artistic use of existing hardware, unless the CNC was a hack using the application system.

    Interesting video, none the less.

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