Erasable Pen Ink Adds Colors To 3D Prints

Changing colors during a 3D print is notoriously difficult. Either you need multiple heads ready to go during the print which increases operating and maintenance costs for your printer, or you need to stop the print to switch the filament and then hope that everything matches up when the print is resumed. There are some workarounds to this problem, but not many of them are as smooth an effortless as this one which uses erasable pen ink to add colors to the filament on the fly.

Erasable pen ink is a thermochromic material that doesn’t get removed from paper when erased like graphite from a pencil. Instead the heat from the friction of erasing causes it to become transparent. By using this property for a 3D print, the colors in the print can be manipulated simply by changing the temperature of the hot end. Of course the team at [Autodrop3d] had quite a learning curve when experimenting with this method, as they had to run the extruder at a much lower temperature than normal to have control over the ink’s color, had to run the print much slower than normal, and were using a very sticky low-temperature plastic for the print.

With all of these modifications to the print setup, there are bound to be some limitations in material and speed, but the results of the project speak for themselves. This allows for stock 3D printers to use this method with no hardware modifications, and the color changes can be done entirely in software. While everyone catches up with this new technology, there are some other benefits to a 3D printer with multiple print heads, though, and some clever ways of doing the switching without too much interruption.

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Responsive Paintings Do It With Heat And Light

Art is a conversation, yes. But normally, it’s a short one: the artist makes a statement and the audience responds, each bringing their own interpretations. The hard thing about being an artist is that once you release a piece into the world, it’s sort of bound and gagged in that it can’t defend itself from comments and misinterpretation.

On the other hand, interactive art allows for a longer discussion. Pieces are responsive and no longer mute. But so much of the interactive art out there is purely digital, and lacks a certain analog warmth that comes from physicality. For this year’s Hackaday Prize, [Laura] sought to put a digital interface on an analog visual piece and make paintings that change based on data inputs.

For now, [Laura] is focusing on adding two dynamic elements to her paintings: shifting color and light patterns in response to a viewer’s presence and/or actions using an Arduino and TinyML. For the color changes, [Laura] ended up mixing thermochromic pigment powder with a transparent gel medium.

This was a bit of a journey, because the regular kind of transparent medium came out too runny, and mixing the pigments with white paint made the colors come out lighter than [Laura] wanted and left white behind when heated. But transparent gel medium was just right. You can see the difference in this picture — the colors come out darker with the gel medium, and disappear almost completely with heat.

[Laura] didn’t want to just poke LEDs through the canvas, which in this case is a 1/8″ birch panel. Instead, there’s an RGB matrix shining behind a pair of thin, diffused cutouts filled with thermoplastic.

Check out the video after the break of a painting sketch that uses both techniques. Keep your eye on the purple triangles on the right side, and watch them slowly turn blue in real time as light patterns dance behind the diffused cutouts. Stick around for the second brief video that shows an updated light animation.

We’ve seen many ways of making interactive art, like this Rube Goldberg fairy tale ball maze that you control with your phone.

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Using Heaters To Display Time

We’re always fans of interesting clock builds around here, whether it’s a word clock, marble clock, or in this case a clock using a unique display method. Of course, since this is a build by Hackaday’s own [Moritz v. Sivers] the display that was chosen for this build was a custom thermochromic display. These displays use heat-sensitive material to change color, and his latest build leverages that into one of the more colorful clock builds we’ve seen.

The clock’s display is built around a piece of thermochromic film encased in clear acrylic. The way the film operates is based on an LCD display, but using heat to display the segments. For this build, as opposed to his previous builds using larger displays, he needed to refine the method he used for generating the heat required for the color change. For that he swapped out the Peltier devices for surface mount resistors and completely redesigned the drivers and the PCBs around this new method.

Of course, the actual clock mechanism is worth a mention as well. The device uses an ESP8266 board to handle the operation of the clock, and it is able to use its wireless capabilities to get the current time via NTP. All of the files needed to recreate this are available on the project page as well, including code, CAD files, and PCB layouts. It’s always good to have an interesting clock around your home, but if you’re not a fan of electronic clocks like this we can recommend any number of mechanical clocks as well.

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Hackaday Podcast 069: Calculator Controversy, Socketing SOIC, Metal On The Moon, And Basking In Bench Tools

Hackaday editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams march to the beat of the hardware hacking drum as they recount the greatest hacks to hit the ‘net this week. First up: Casio stepped in it with a spurious DMCA takedown notice. There’s a finite matrix of resistors that form a glorious clock now on display at CERN. Will a patio paver solve your 3D printer noise problems? And if you ever build with copper clad, you can’t miss this speedrun of priceless prototyping protips.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Direct download (60 MB or so.)

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Matrix Of Resistors Forms The Hot Hands Behind This Thermochromic Analog Clock

If you’re going to ditch work, you might as well go big. A 1,024-pixel thermochromic analog clock is probably on the high side of what most people would try, but apparently [Daniel Valuch] really didn’t want to go to work that day.

The idea here is simple: heat up a resistor by putting some current through it, lay a bit of thermochromic film over it, and you’ve got one pixel. The next part was not so simple: expanding that single pixel to a 32 by 32 matrix.

To make each pixel square-ish, [Daniel] chose to pair up the 220-ohm SMD resistors for a whopping 2,048 components. Adding to the complexity was the choice to drive them with a 1,024-bit shift register made from discrete 74LVC1G175 flip flops. With the Arduino Nano and all the other support components, that’s over 3,000 devices with the potential to draw 50 amps, were someone to be foolish or unlucky enough to turn on every pixel at once. Luckily, [Daniel] chose to emulate an analog clock here; that led to additional problems, like dealing with cool-down lag in the thermochromic film when animating the hands, which had to be dealt with in software.

We’ve seen other thermochromic displays before, including recently with this temperature and humidity display. This one may not be the highest resolution display out there, but it’s big and bold and slightly dangerous, and that makes it a win in our book.

Thermochromic Display Tells You The Temperature Despite Your Current Mood

Readers who survived the 1970s will no doubt remember the “mood ring” fad, where a liquid crystal mounted to a ring would magically reveal your current emotional state to all and sundry by changing color. This nifty thermochromic display is based on the same principle, and while it might not start a new craze, it’s still pretty mesmerizing to watch.

This isn’t [Moritz v. Sivers]’ first attempt at a thermochromic display. His earlier version was far more complicated, using separate copper plates clad with thermochromic film for each segment, with Peltier devices to cool and heat them individually. Version two is much simpler, using a printed circuit board with heating elements in the shape of seven-segment displays etched into it. The thermochromic film sits directly on the heater PCB; a control PCB below has the MCU and sensors on it. The display alternates between temperature and humidity, with the segments fading in an uneven and ghostly way that really makes this fun to watch. [Moritz] has made the build files available, and there’s a detailed Instructable as well.

We’re always on the lookout for alternate display modalities, especially when they look this cool. We’ve seen other thermochromic displays before, of course, and persistence of phosphorescence looks great, too.

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The Thermochromic Display You Didn’t Know You Needed

We love unique ways of displaying data here at Hackaday, and this ingenious thermochromic display created by [Moritz v. Sivers] more than fits the bill. Using sheets of color changing liquid crystals and careful temperature control of the plates they’re mounted on, he’s built a giant seven-segment display that can colorfully (albeit somewhat slowly) show the current temperature and humidity.

The sheets of temperature sensitive liquid crystals are a bit like flattened out Mood Rings; they starts out black, but as heat is applied, their color cycles through vibrant reds, greens, and blues. The sheets are perhaps best known as the sort of vaguely scientific toys you might see in a museum gift shop, but here [Moritz] has put their unique properties to practical use.

To achieve the effect, he first cut each segment out of copper. The crystal sheets were applied to the segments, thanks to their handy self-stick backing, and the excess was carefully trimmed away. Each segment was then mounted to a TES1-12704 Peltier module by way of thermally conductive epoxy. TB6612FNG motor controllers and a bevy of Arduino Nano’s are used to control the Peltier modules, raising and lowering their temperature as necessary to get the desired effect.

You can see the final result in the video after the break. It’s easily one of the most attractive variations on the classic seven-segment display we’ve ever seen. In fact, we’d go as far as to say it could pass for an art installation. The idea of a device that shows the current temperature by heating itself up certainly has a thoughtful aspect to it.

This actually isn’t the first display we’ve seen that utilized this concept, though it’s by far the largest. Back in 2014 we featured a small flexible display that used nichrome wires to “print” digits on a sheet of liquid crystals.

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