Perler Bead Robot

Perler Bead Robot

Perler Bead Robot

Perler Bead Robot

Perler Bead Robot

Perler Bead Robot

Perler Bead Robot

Perler Bead Robot

To build a machine that places beads onto a pegboard, based on a data file.
Notes
Background

Note: This project was completed with one other person. The write up below is all done on my own time.

Perler beads have been around since 1960 and remain a popular art project. Fusible plastic beads are placed onto a peg board to form any desired pattern, and then pressed with an iron to create a disc-like piece of art. The goal of this project is to build a machine that places beads onto a pegboard given a data file that maps out bead coordinates and colors. The user chooses a design, loads the beads into its respective tube on the machine, and then the machine will assemble the beads together to form a pattern. Since many components of our robot were 3D printed, we did not include the iron pressing step, but after the machine assembles the pegboard it can be removed and heated separately.

Challenge

Perler bead art is traditionally done by hand, but wanted to create a machine that can read a data file and assemble the art for the user.

Development

Final Machine:

Process

First, we drew a general sketch of this machine. There are 4 bead dispensers (one per bead color) hanging above the bed which holds the pegboard. The machine will be supported by metal frame extrusions, like a 3D printer, to allow for x and y axis movement.

Based on the initial drawing, we created a cardboard prototype to discover how components of this machine interact. There are 3 functional components:

  1. the bed with x and y axis movement
  2. the bead dispensers
  3. the frame extrusions, which will house our machine and facilitate x and y axis movement.

The first design challenge was designing the bead dispensing mechanism. Below are some iterations made with version 4 being the final design that was used.

  1. V1: Crank and rod mechanism. We 3D printed parts to house the stepper motor, hold the beads, and accommodate the Lego pieces.
  2. V2: Piston assembly
  3. V3: Pinion and Rock
  4. V4: Winged Assembly + V3 mechanism

We encountered several design challenges throughout this project due to the extreme precision Perler beads require to ensure correct alignment and land on the pegs in an upright position. These issues were all addressed through different parts we designed and 3D printed.

  1. The bead dispenser is controlled by a pinion gear and rack with an oval-shaped dispenser hole to accommodate bead alignment.
  2. 4 attachments to the profile to hang the bead dispensers. To create space to hang all 4 dispensers, we needed to hang the dispensers at a distance away from the profile.
  3. The motor holder is a red tube attached to a box with holes to store servo wires so they don’t interfere with the bed movement. You can also see the bead tube design in the same picture.
  4. The yellow pegboard holder attaches to the bed with wheels underneath. There are also 4 black platform lifters which limit the distance the bead drops. The platform lifters combats the challenge of beads landing sideways.
  5. The red tube extenders are attached to the black bead dispenser, which also decreases the distance between the bead dispenser and the pegboard.
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