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.
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.
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:
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.
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.