Color Your World With This CNC Painting Robot

Let’s say you’ve watched a few episodes of “The Joy of Painting” and you want your inner [Bob Ross] to break free. You get the requisite supplies for oil painting – don’t forget the alizarin crimson! – and start to apply paint to canvas, only to find your happy little trees are not so happy, and this whole painting thing is harder than it looks.

[Saint Bob] would certainly encourage you to stick with it, but if you have not the patience, a CNC painting robot might be a thing to build. The idea behind [John Opsahl]’s “If Then Paint” is not so much to be creative, but to replicate digital images in paint. Currently in the proof-of-concept phase, If Then Paint appears to have two main components: the paint management system, with syringe pumps to squeeze out different paints to achieve just the right color, and the applicator itself, a formidable six-axis device that supports tool changes by using different brushes chucked up into separate hand drill chucks. The extra axes at the head will allow control of how the brush is presented to the canvas, and also allow for cleaning the brush between colors. The videos below show two of the many ways [John] is exploring to clean the brushes, but sadly neither is as exciting as the correct [Bob Ross] method.

It looks like If Then Paint has a ways to go yet, but we’re impressed by some of the painting it has produced already. This is just the kind of project we like to see in the 2019 Hackaday Prize – thought out, great documentation, and a lot of fun.

16 thoughts on “Color Your World With This CNC Painting Robot

  1. Oh by the way, a while back I started building one of these ( didn’t go further than a few paintings ), but one thing I used that I think is very very neat, is watercolor brushes with reservoirs.
    Like this :
    What’s really cool about this, is you can pipe in a tube to the reservoir, and then just pump water into that to perfectly clean the brush from any paint

  2. I remember when once I dumped entire bucket (20L) of new paint into a toilet thinking it would mask my poop smears (didn’t want to use toilet toothbrush). When my father found out what happened to paint that was supposed to go on a ceiling, let’s just say she wasn’t very satisfied.

      1. Thanks for your interest, I can not claim the concept, which is to pull a wire or thread through paint, wipe of the excess then blow the paint from the wire, no nozzles needed so just about any liquid can be used, within reason of course. I read about the concept some years ago and finally decided much later to build a prototype head, then bit by bit arrived at reasonable results, it was an exceedingly interesting project, if you wish to make one search for wirejet. I used nylon fishing line which lasted ages before needing renewing, mine rewound for each pass which slows things down, if the wire could be joined into a continuous loop
        things would be quicker and easier. I planned to use this concept to 3d print latex rubber for facial prosthetics for people who undergo facial surgery, open source of course.

        1. COOL, I’m gonna try to build one myself. I think it’s great.
          Print on whatever you wnat using whatever paint :)
          Do you have some starting points, like:
          size nozzle (what nozzle, diameter, maybe using 3d print nozzles diameter 0,2mm)
          distance from airnozzle to wire (perhaps 1mm?)
          Air pressure (range 10-20psi? or higher)
          Distance wire to subject (perhaps 2mm?)
          Details! :)

    1. Neat but if you want a 3D printer that paints by brush, perhaps it’d be better to have a system that just switches brushes instead of cleaning them, a special cap maybe to hold the brushes vertical, in a position where the computer can just grab it and switch the brushes.

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