Wanna Build A Robot?

Touring some of the local hobby shows and speaking with some of our younger customers, I’m finding a growing interest in robot building.

In routing around the Net I happened upon John Palmisano’s site,


 John offered me these thoughts on getting started and what’s available on his site:

Robots today are no longer only made out of traditional tin and steal.
Instead, an ever increasing number of robots consists of large
quantities of plastics – not just for aesthetic casings but also as
main structural components. covers all aspects on
building your own robot, including materials and structural
construction methods.


 * * *

So, Plasticguy says check’m out!


Posted by on November 12, 2007 in Fabrication, General Knowledge, Recreation


The Acrylic (Low Res) Man


Artist THOMAS BROOMÉ as created a life size sculpture (called THE LOW RES MAN) in painted acrylic glass, of a man built up with 1x1x1 cm cubes (pixels). The man has a innerlight which makes him seem like he just stepped out of the screen-based world into ours.

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Posted by on November 7, 2007 in Acrylic, Recreation


If You Got The Money… Cast Acrylic Bed Frame

 Check this bad boy out @

 A couple of the fab and design gize sat around and we came up with a figure that, if this was actually hand crafted from off-the-skid cast acrylic, you’d be into between $10k and $15k of work and material…  those end posts would probably be 6″ optically perfect cast pieces that were milled down to the various thicknesses and tapers and then polished. The headboard – wow – you’d probably break a few pieces perfecting the curves.

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Posted by on November 7, 2007 in Acrylic, DIY, Fabrication


Cool DIY Acrylic Rubik Cube

 Came across a neat site ( where the author shows you how to make your own Rubik Cube out of acrylic blocks and magnets…

“27 3/4″ clear acrylic cubes are drilled with 108 3/16″ holes, fitted with 108 D32 neodymium disc magnets with proper polarities facing out from each, and assembled into a size-matched magnetic version of the original Rubik’s Cube.”

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Posted by on November 7, 2007 in Acrylic, Fabrication


The Plastic Industry Fights Back… And Wins


Fairfax folds on plastic bag ban

By Rob Rogers

Bowing to threats of a lawsuit by the plastics industry, Fairfax officials have decided to make the town’s ban on plastic grocery bags voluntary. “Basically, we’ve gotten legal advice that we are not likely to prevail if we fight it,” said Councilman Lew Tremaine. “We don’t want to waste a bunch of people’s money, so we’re going to alter the ordinance so that it’s voluntary.”

In July, the council voted unanimously to bar grocery stores, restaurants and retail shops from using plastic bags. The ordinance, which did not require businesses to comply until Feb. 10, 2008, allowed the use of recyclable paper, compostable bags or reusable containers. Violators would have been fined $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second and $500 for any subsequent offenses. The town approved the ban over threats from the plastics industry, which argued that the ordinance amounted to an endorsement of paper bags, made from trees that consume greenhouse gases. An attorney for Emerald Packaging Co. and Fresh Pak Corp. accused Fairfax of ignoring the California Environmental Quality Act’s requirements for a full environmental assessment before enacting the ban.

“A big part of me thinks the whole concept that we have to do an EIR is patently absurd, and I’d love to see that dragon slain in a court of law,” Tremaine said. “But reality is reality.” Emerald Packaging representatives said the lawsuit would not move forward if the town follows through with plans to change the ordinance’s wording to discourage the use of plastic bags, but referred further questions to Donne Dempsey, managing director of the Progressive Bag Alliance, who said an EIR is in order.

“The increased use of paper would contribute to deforestation,” Dempsey said.

Fairfax faced similar opposition to its long-standing ban on polystyrene take-out containers. When the plastics industry threatened a lawsuit, environmental activists turned to Fairfax voters, who made the issue a ballot initiative. Tremaine said something similar is likely to happen with the bag ban.

“I think what’s going to happen is environmental activists are going to put it on the ballot. We’ve been down this road before,” Tremaine said. “The group I was working with at the time – the Fairfax and San Anselmo greens – did a petition drive and an initiative, and it passed by a ridiculously large margin.”

Andy Peri agreed.

“My understanding at this point is that we’ll be going to voters to collect the signatures necessary to get this on the ballot, probably in November 2008,” said Peri, a member of Green Sangha, the organization that initially pushed for the Fairfax ban. “Once it goes to the ballot, the plastic industry can’t play its shenanigans, making us do an assessment under CEQA law, when this ban is clearly in the interest of the environment, and in the interest of supporting clean air, clean water and wildlife.”

Because so many businesses have supported the ban, Peri said he doesn’t believe life in Fairfax will change once the council modifies its ordinance – which Tremaine said is likely to happen at its Nov. 7 meeting.


Posted by on October 30, 2007 in General Knowledge


Bizarre: Acrylic Dishware On Demand


The Dishmaker Makes Plates On-Demand

Leonardo Amerigo Bonanni, a Ph.D. student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has designed a device that makes and recycles plastic dishes in various shapes. His “Dishmaker”, which is about the size of a regular dishwasher, can make plates, cups and bowls in approximately one minute each, taking as much time to return the dish into its original circle-shaped raw material. “In 15 minutes you can have all the dishes you need for a family of four” – says Bonanni.

The process begins when a piece of acrylic is inserted into the device, where heat and pressure are applied to soften the round dish. The heater is pressed against the acrylic and when temperatures reach 150-degrees Celsius, the plastic is passed on to the next station. At the “stamping” station, a motor driven stamp clamps the plastic, and forms it to a variable depth of up to 12.7 centimeters. The recycling process takes place at the same station where the dishes were formed. The plates are reheated and crushed by heavy weights, which return them to their original, perfectly flat shape of acrylic material.

The “Dishmaker” is a prototype machine, developed to make relatively small products, made out of palm-sized acrylic disks. The elastic substance used is non-toxic, and its shape memory properties allow it to be easily modified and recycled up to 100 times, without degrading the material.

Bonanni hopes that this new kind of kitchen appliance will not only provide comfort and an easy way for families to save money to, but also raise our energy conservation systems to a new level. “When designing the ‘Dishmaker’, I considered all of the possible products that a family would need and tried to create a machine that could make them all, but at the same time recycle them, so that they don’t take any extra room. With the ‘Dishmaker’ you don’t have to store all the dishes you might need for any conceivable circumstance (guests etc.), just the material to make enough for a given day” – he said.

Dishmaker showing variable pressure-mold (left) and various dishes (right) (Credit: Leonardo Bonanni/MIT)
Dishmaker showing variable pressure-mold
(left) and various dishes (right)
(Credit: Leonardo Bonanni/MIT)

The “Dishmaker” demonstrates a new tendency in interior design, as more and more designers are focusing not only on the final product, but on entire product life cycles. Bonanni says this single appliance can be operated for many years, using a minimal amount of material. In the future, he says, just like we have printers in our homes, we’ll have printers for materials, “printing” designs we’ll download from the web or create ourselves. And once there is no longer a need for the products, we’ll just insert them into the printers, which will melt them back to their original shapes.   

Bonanni’s device is an example of products made using rapid prototyping – a technique used to construct physical objects from virtual designs. This technology takes models from computer aided design (CAD) or animation modeling software, and transforms them into almost identical physical objects. 3D printing, a category of rapid prototyping technology, creates three dimensional objects by “printing” successive layers on top of the previous ones.

You can watch Bonanni demonstrating his Dishmaker here.

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Posted by on October 29, 2007 in Acrylic, R&D


Make A Lightbox Out Of PVC Foam Board

 Do-it-yourself lightbox

By Joseph Holst

Building a light box is easy. In fact, I could just post the photos with no explanation and 95 percent of people would be able to sort it out with no problem. But for the other 5 percent and for the sake of being thorough, I’ll post a few words of instruction.This thing isn’t really rocket science at all. I think it’s more the technique that people would be interested in. I’ve received a lot of e-mails asking about the light box so I hope this will be a help to anyone wanting to stay inside during the winter months and take shots of random stuff from the fridge.

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Posted by on October 29, 2007 in Fabrication, Recreation