Georgia Tech team make talc print robot

Georgia Tech team make talc print robot

The printer robot in action. No mention is made of who had to clean up the mess afterwards.

A team at Georgia Tech has modified an iRobot chassis (y'know, like those Roomba vacuum cleaner thingies) to transform it into a printer that dispenses talcum powder onto your lovely clean floor. Why? Because they can.

Created as part of the team's final project for their embedded systems design class, the printer is a Heath Robinson amalgamation of dot-matrix printer, drill, and dumpy robot-on-wheels.

The idea is pretty simple: the dot-matrix carriage moves a funnel left and right while the robot chassis drags the whole lot backwards. When the printer wants to deposit 'ink' (well, talcum powder) it rotates a drill bit which pushes the powder out through the funnel.

While the printer is currently only capable of a single colour – that of whatever powder you put into the funnel – and the printing is by its very nature temporary, it's still a pretty funky gadget to have.

The only downside is the requirement to have two Roombas to modify: one to turn into a talc printer, and the other to clean up again afterwards.

With some modification I could imagine this little device becoming a way of easily painting road markings. Alternatively, fill the hopper with weed killer and give your neighbour a nice personalised message scorched into his lawn.

You can read more about the machine at the project homepage, and there's even a movie available.

Can you think of any practical uses for this device? I'm struggling to think of anything beyond the practical joke market here. See what you can come up with in the forums.


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Arkanrais 21st December 2007, 11:07 Quote
Alternatively, fill the hopper with weed killer and give your neighbour a nice personalised message scorched into his lawn.
I have now found a way to deliver revenge one the old b****** across the street from me. perhaps I'll use methylated spirits instead and a well aimed match.
Rebourne 21st December 2007, 11:52 Quote
That's just going to be annoying.
C0nKer 21st December 2007, 12:37 Quote
wow... my project for a similar course is horribly lame compared to that.
Redbeaver 21st December 2007, 17:54 Quote
w00t, my project for 4th year embedded system is a "mouse" :) no, not the one that eats cheese, nor the one with optical eye that u move around ur hand to point stuff in the monitor.... but a standalone electro-mechanical entity with AI capable of solving a maze and find the shortest path :)

i miss college :)

no wait, not entirely... lol but its always good to see undergraduate computer program that keeps pushing the limit of creativity!
Cupboard 21st December 2007, 19:13 Quote
Reminds me of when someone drew a huge penis outside our school canteen in salt!

I wonder how anyone came up with this idea! Its genius though - the next step should be to put a vacuum on one end, so it can clean up after itself and replenish the supplies!
DXR_13KE 21st December 2007, 19:54 Quote
its kind of slow compared to some robots i saw sometime ago....
TheEclypse 21st December 2007, 22:39 Quote
Maybe you could use it to automate seed planting for farmers?
metarinka 22nd December 2007, 19:58 Quote
wasn't a very similar system alreadsy developed by a student at MIT. It did the same thing with powdered chalk and it was attached to a bicycle allowing him to draw messages on the sidewalk by just riding around
Spaceraver 23rd December 2007, 00:48 Quote
GG. We had a similar type of cartoonist like Heath Robinson here in Denmark namely Storm P. He was a painter too.. He did more then 60.000 drawings and various other works of art.
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