Mini Sumo seems like one of those hobbies that starts out innocently enough, and ends up with a special room in the house dedicated to it. One day you’re excitedly opening up your first Basic Stamp kit, and the next you’re milling out mini molds on a mini lathe to make mini extra sticky tires.
[Dave] started out trying to find a part from the local big box store that was just a little bigger than the wheel he wanted to rubberize. He set the wheel inside a plumbing cap and poured the urethane in. It worked, but it required a lot of time with a sharp knife to carve away the excess rubber.
In the meantime he acquired a Sherline Mini Mill and Lathe. With the new tools available to him, he made a new mold out of a bit of purple UHMW and some acrylic. This one produced much nicer results. Using a syringe he squeezed resin into the mold through a hole in the acrylic. Much less cleanup was needed.
He later applied these methods to smaller, wider wheels as his mini sumo addiction took a stronger hold on his life.
Somewhere between the early tires forged by wheelwrights and the modern steel-belted radial, everyone’s horseless carriage rode atop bias-ply tires. This week’s film is a dizzying tour of the Brunswick Tire Company’s factory circa 1934, where tires were built and tested by hand under what appear to be fairly dangerous conditions.
It opens on a scene that looks like something out of Brazil: the cords that form the ply stock are drawn from thousands of individual spools poking out from poles at jaunty angles. Some 1800 of these cords will converge and be coated with a rubber compound with high anti-friction properties. The resulting sheet is bias-cut into plies, each of which is placed on a drum to be whisked away to the tire room.
Continue reading “Retrotechtacular: Brunswick Shows A Bias for Tires”
Fashioning a custom, one-off rubber part for your project isn’t usually an option, but [Ben Krasnow] has an alternative to injection molding and casting: machining frozen rubber.
As [Ben] points out, you can’t exactly pop a sheet of rubber on your mill and CNC the needed shape; the bit will push the material around rather than cut it. Freezing the rubber first, however, allows you to carve into the now-hardened material.
His initial setup consisted of a sheet of aluminum with water drizzled on top, a square of neoprene placed on the water, and a steady stream of -60 to -80C alcohol flowing directly onto the rubber. The water underneath freezes, holding the neoprene in place. This proved problematic as the ice-clamp gives way before the milling is complete. [Ben] later adds some bolts to clamp the pieces down, allowing the milling process finish as planned.
A small plastic tray sits underneath this assembly to capture the alcohol as it runs off, feeding it back with some tubing. [Ben] recommends against a submersible aquarium pump—his initial choice—because the pump stopped working after a few minutes immersed in the chilly alcohol. An external, magnetically-driven pump solved the problem although it does require manual priming.
Stick around after the jump for the video and check out some of [Ben’s] other projects, like his quest for the perfect cookie, or CT scanning a turkey.
Continue reading “Cryogenic Machining: Custom Rubber Parts”
A couple of Harvard researchers have developed a method of using digital barometers as a touch sensor. The good news for us is that they’ve open sourced the project, including Eagle board files, firmware, and details about the materials they used.
The digital barometers were chosen for their characteristics, availability, and low-cost. The sensor uses an array of Freescale MPL115A2 chips, a MEMS Barometer designed for use in altimeters. The mass production makes them cheap (Octopart found some in single quantities for $1.71 at the time of writing). The chips are soldered onto a board which is then cast in rubber. This distributes the force while protecting the sensors. The video after the break shows them standing up to rubber hammer blows and supporting a 25 pound weight.
There are a few tricks to reading the array. The first is that the devices are designed to be used one-to-a-project so they have a fixed i2 address. A separate chip must be used to address them individually. But one it’s up and running you should be able to use it as feedback for the fingertips of that robot arm you’ve been building.
Continue reading “Building touch sensors from digital barometer chips”
The silent drum is played with your hands. It acts as a midi device by analyzing the movement of the rubbery black drum head. As you can see in the photo, one side of the body is clear and the other is white. A light shines up into it to boost the contrast and a camera picks up the black head as it moves past the white side of the shell. [Jaime Oliver] has provided an interesting look at the analysis method used with this instrument and there’s also a system of notating a composition for future performance. See and hear it played in the demo after the break.
Continue reading “Gently stroke this drum”
This clear rubber puck serves as the enclosure for a diy mp3 player. The wires encapsulated in the rubber are just there for looks but the utility of using this material as a case is fascinating. Alas, there’s no details on the material other than that it’s clear rubber. Update: [Reboots] picked up on some info that we originally missed. Looks like this is made from some Smooth-On PCM 780 urethane rubber.
We’ve looked into casting our own molds from silicone rubber in the past. That may be the process used here but we can’t tell what allows the two halves to be pried apart. We’ve embedded video after the break that details casting rubber around a part in one solid block, then cutting the rubber off of that to create a mold. We’re also familiar with the mold making kits from Tap plastics but as far as we know, they’re always colored and never clear.
We keep our eyes peeled for new prototyping products and we want to know more about the materials and the process used to make this cylindrical elastomer. If you’ve got the goods on how this is done, please share them in the comments.
Continue reading “Transparent rubber enclosures”