Innovative 3D Round Object Printer: The Eggbot

Interesting Engineering

Have you ever considered printing on a round object but deemed it too difficult? No worries, the EggBot is here. Weird! cool! What is an EggBot and how do I get my own?

Enlight1 (91)[Image Source: Stellabelle/ using EggBots from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories]

The EggBot is an open-source art robot that is designed to print on spherical objects that are usually "impossible" to print on. With the EggBot you can print on ping-pong balls, chicken eggs, ostrich eggs, mini pumpkins, wine glasses, light bulbs and golf balls. A free, open-source, professional vector graphic illustration program called Inkscape is utilized by the EggBot to create the stunning, personalized egg creations. Inkscape is compatible with Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. You can use your own drawings, trace a photograph or import designs from other sources. The number of options is endless.

The Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories sells an assortment of EggBot kits and they are mind-shatteringly cool. The basic EggBot kit starts at US$195. I discovered the EggBot by chance on the Hammerspace Facebook Page through their Easter egg event which teaches you how to print necktie patterns on eggs using the EggBot. Necktie patterns on eggs? I'm in.

Enlight1 (92)[Image Source: Hammerspace]

Here’s a detailed how-to video which explains the basic set-up of The EggBot.

In order to use the EggBot kit, you’ll need: a miniature Phillips-head and flathead screwdriver, a reasonably modern computer with an available USB port (Mac, Windows or Linux), and internet access to download assembly instructions and software. Here’s the instructions for the software you’ll need.

See EggBot creations in action:

Who created the very first EggBot?

It was Bruce Shapiro who invented the the original EggBot:

“In March 1990, with my cutting-edge 286 computer and two stepper motors rescued from an old plotter (remember these from the days before inkjet printers?) and some circuitry, I could move each motor an exact amount in either direction. I was enthralled. My family were less so. Clearly, I needed something more interesting, and with Easter coming soon I chose to make my first robot: eggbot. I firmly believe that not only is motion control a ripe avenue for artistic expression, but that algorithmic control of motion is itself inherently beautiful.” -Bruce Shapiro website

Bruce believes that motion control is an emerging medium for artistic expression. The EggBot falls under the category of the art of motion control which is in a nutshell, computer-controlled kinetics. Motion control is an industry term that is used to describe a variety of techniques for orchestrating the movement of machines and objects. Robotics, CNC and automation all fit under the category of motion control. The EggBot is a reminder that the artificial lines separating engineering and art are becoming increasingly blurry.

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Another innovator who pushes the boundaries of different disciplines is Theo Jansen. His kinetic sculptures which are powered by the wind illustrate the intersection of several disciplines perfectly. It begs the question: is it engineering? Or is it art? Is it organic or artificial?  

Or, perhaps it is all of these things in a strange new combination of elements, glued together with the power of a mind willing to push the boundaries of what is possible. When the mind is free to create new associations without adhering to the strict constructs of the past, amazing things can develop which defy categorization.

As humans, we see life in terms of a strict set of events: we are born, we live, we die. But the universe doesn't operate in this linear manner. The closer we come to accepting that everything is interconnected as a whole, the easier it is to make breakthroughs in all sorts of disciplines. Remember, the way things are today in the world is only the product of a few people's visions. We can remember this truth as we advance forward into unknown worlds.

eggbot eggs printer[Image Source: EggBot]

Leah Stephens is a writer, artist, experimenter and editor. You can follow her on Twitter or Medium.

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