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Project BlackBox – Development


BlackBox Development:  Stage 1

Project BlackBox is a production device which allows the creation of 1:1 panels of shape-memory polymers and hydrogels.  The goal for the device is to transfer properties and behaviors developed as “material samples” and scale them up to usable “material prototypes”.  In collaboration with the Dept. of Chemical Engineering at the University of Kentucky we designed and constructed a machine that would cure the polymers or hydrogels using a UV light source.  When the chemicals used to make the materials are mixed they are in a liquid form, and the UV light hardens it to a material similar to plastic.

The process began by researching methods used by large scale production facilities of UV cured materials.  Typically these companies used a fixed bar of curing light and passed the sheets of material under the light using a conveyor belt.  This system was not an option for us due to the space and budget limitations associated with this approach.  In the end we decided to invert this system by fixing the material and moving the light source over it similar to a scanner.  We are currently in the process of scaling the operation up to its full potential of 18″X32″ sheets.  This size is important as it represents the maximum sheet size that can be cut on our laser cutter.

The goal for this first stage of development is to create a modular facade shading system created from the polymer which allows the material to respond directly to the heat without any mechanical or electrical input

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