The art of making pottery has existed for tens of thousands of years, and the materials used have stayed relatively similar as nearly all items were made from clay which was left to harden either from the sun or via a kiln. But for those who wish to do only a little sculpting with little regard for the finished product, such as Guillermo Perez Guillen had the idea to employ a cornstarch-based material instead for reduced costs. Beyond merely using one’s hands to shape the “clay”, he also upgraded his 3D pottery machine project with new controls, patterns, and more.
Just like in the first version, this second iteration of the clay sculpting machine relies on an old CD-ROM drive to both spin the platter — handled by an Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense, and move the toolhead along a single axis. But unlike the previous version, this one introduces far more automation and control. An Arduino Mega 2560 receives inputs from a 4×4 matrix keypad for homing, positioning the toolhead, or running a predefined pattern. A stepper motor, driven by an L298N, moves the gantry left and right while a servo motor can raise or lower the stylus.
With this combination of moveable axes and the ability to creates patterns automatically, this improved system is capable of producing very creative works of cornstarch-based pottery. Guillen hopes that this project could find its way into classrooms as kit for STEM education, helping students intuitively learn how to make 2D figures such as circles, squares and triangles, or even 3D figures like cylinders and cubes. More information about Guillen’s machine can be found here on Hackaday.io.
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