Friday, April 19, 2013

The Awesomeness of Plastic

For many years, I'am looking for THE ultimate tool to build something. I looked at CNC-router (but they are expensive, cumbersome, and they make a lot of dust), 3D printers (very expensive, cumbersome and weak material), and conventional wood working tools. All of these tools don't satisfy me : I live in a parisian flat, and I miss time to learn wood-working.

One day, I ran accross Sugru. I hoped that the search for my Grail was over. I bought a 8-pack and started to hacked my things. I used it on my keys to make them nicer to handle. I repaired many things. I protected my Mac chargers. But nothing big, because i'd need more than 5g of Sugru !

My needs

I'm currently working on the 2nd version of my Cat-feeder (in french). This first version's portion is quite inaccurate. The distribution unit is the volume contained in one of the distribution wheel separation. And because I have no position feedback on the wheel, I turn the wheel for 200ms, which is almost a 1/6 turn. But i would like to be more accurate with 5g portions.

We see the axially spaced compartments. 1 compartment is the unit.

I studied some possibilities :

  • Increase the axis size to reduce the compartment volume. I could use Sugru for that.
  • Use a servo to create horizontal movement and push a 5g portion.
  • And my favorite : Use a double archimede screw with inverted screw thread to push biscuit to two ends (One end by cat)


Have you ever search on ebay a 4cm archimed screw, with 4cm thread ? They exist but in an industrial flavor : only 1500$ the 3m stainless steel screw ! But the plastic version of 20cm for DIYers, you're wasting your time. I looked for epoxy resin, but that causes an allergic reaction on skin. Because I am aware of my cat health, I prefer not poison them. And one day i was deperate, I search in google : "DIY plastic". On the first page, I found DIY Material Guide : A Polymorph Plastic. You can almost make everything. Here is a guide to help you starting modeling polymorph. With a little training, it's easy to obtain simple forms. And you can try a lot, because you only need to heat it, and retry.

I found mine on ebay (BLRTronic), less than 15€ for 500g. To give you an idea of the price, my archimede screw weight about 20 grams... I will use it for axis, motor fixation, and electronic case .

I'm a big fan of polymorph, i think i found the grail, and my archimede screw is almost done !

PS : The axis of my polymorph screw is an Aluminum rod.