More EL chemistry: Luminescent ink

[Jeri Ellsworth] continues her experiments with electroluminescence, this time she’s making EL ink. The ink she’s looking for is Zinc Sulfate in a solution. The process she chose is to re-dope some glow powder so that it can be excited by the field around an AC current. In her video (embedded after the break) she talks about the chemical properties she’s after by detailing a cubic lattice of zinc and sulfur atoms with an added copper atom (adding that atom is a process called doping).

The quick and dirty synopsis of the experiment starts by washing the glow powder with dish soap to acquire zinc sulfide crystals. Then she combined copper sulfate and zinc shavings from the inside of a modern penny to yield copper metal and zinc sulfate suspended in solution. That was mixed with the zinc sulfide from the glow powder washing and doped with a little more copper sulfate. The excess liquid is poured off, the test tube is capped with glass frit, and the whole thing hits the kiln to start the reaction. The result glows when excited by alternating current, but could have been improved by adding chlorine atoms into the mix.

We’re excited every time we see one of [Jeri’s] new chemistry hacks. We’d love to see more so if you’ve come across interesting chemistry experiments during your Internet travels, please let us know about them. Just make sure you have some idea of what you’re doing when working with chemicals… safety first.

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The txtBomber is a high-tech graffiti printer developed by [Felix Vorreiter]. Details are a bit scarce but the video clip after the break proves that this works quite well. [Felix] admits this is Arduino powered but we’re going to have to guess at the rest of the setup from the pictures. He says there are built-in-pens so we’d bet there’s a felt-tip type of thing going on and those look like seven solenoids that actuate them. He posted a picture of the handle side of the device and we can make out two wheels that are connected to LEGO gears. This tracks movement of the txtBomber across a surface in order to synchronize the printing process. There’s no sign of an LCD so it looks like you have to pre-program the messages before you go out into the field.

This is akin to the Chalkbot, but the messages that leaves wash away with the rain. This one seems like it might get you into some trouble if you get caught leaving permanent tags around the neighborhood.

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(mini)How-To: Refill your DTG inks

The number one and number two things asked after presentation of our DIYDTG were…
“How does it hold up in the wash?”
“How did you change out the inks?”
While we’ve explained the first several times (regular ink washes out, DTG ink gets a little lighter but survives) we can hopefully answer the second with a tutorial.

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Why aren’t we building our own printers?

We’ll ask it again, why aren’t we building our own printers? We’re building 3d printers, CNC mills, and hacking the ink cartridges on commercial printers. What does it really take to build say a 300 dpi black and white printer? Something that lets you clean and service the print head rather than throwing it out when the ink reservoir is empty?

Someone has set out to answer these question with the Openprinter project. If this interests you, join up and start the revolution. RepRap had simple beginnings and maybe it’s time to take the army of self-replicating 3D printers and use them to print parts for 2D printers that don’t drive us crazy.

[Photo credit]

[via LostScrews]

Xerox ink will print circuits


Xerox has announced a breakthrough in printable circuits. They’ve developed a conductive ink called “silver bullet” that can be printed on many different types of substrate to create circuits. The key part of the new ink is its lower melting point. Plastic film substrate melts at 150 degrees Celsius but the ink is liquid when ten degrees cooler to avoid damaging the film. This begs the question: how do you then solder components to the circuit?

The benefits of printable circuitry are obvious. Aside from cheaper and easier RFID, disposable circuits like greeting cards, and fabric-based electronics, we’re hoping this will facilitate more environmentally friendly PCB fabrication. That really depends on the ink’s production process and the resilience of the resulting circuitry.

[via Gizmodo]

Continuous Ink project


This ancient by internet standards, circa 2002, but its a great read.  [Eddie], frustrated by the high cost of ink cartridges set out to build a continuous inking system. This would mean that the cartridges would be filled from larger, cheaper reservoirs of ink continually. Along the way he transitioned from simple tubes with some putty to more complicated systems. Eventually he had to hack the chips that told the printers the cartridge was in need of replacement.  While the systems he’s using may be difficult to find now, the execution should work on other models. Completely unrelated to the project itself, is that [Billy Mays] as the site favicon? We suspect it is [Eddie] himself.

[via hacknmod]

Self-portrait machine


[Jen Hui Liao] created a device that guides the user into drawing a portrait of themselves. Dubbed Self-Portrait Machine, it comments on how much in society is created by machines and we are dependent on them. Unlike previous drawing robots, the user is part of the sketching process. The machine holds the users hands and uses stepper motors and servos to move them around like a LOGO turtle. Liao promises to have more details available soon. Video of the machine after the jump.

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