Open Source Hardware : BigBatik with Kuka

Posted in Textiles

Week 8: Open Source Hardware Assignment

Group project: BigBatik with Kuka

Small tests first

Here is Mohammed helping Anastasia, our human arm, controlling the big batik tool before we tested it with the Kuka robot arm!

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Making our frames for Big Batik

We decided we wanted some big frames for out big batiks. We came up with two sizes, one square and one rectangular.

Using 2×2 pieces and triangular supports, we drilled and screwed the frames together. Teamwork!

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Testing with Grasshopper, Rhino … & Kuka!

To run the Kuka robot, we had to understand the program running the arm. We had a great tutorial on the Grasshopper program about how the axis worked as well as what each section and the geometrical mathematics behind it.

We also had the opportunity to control the Kuka robot arm ourselves, with a simple hole-in-one game (a large sellotape cylinder on a pipe with the Kuka arm holding a stick, we had to spear the sellotape with the stick, only using the controls.

After having some fun we got to business setting up the big batik tool onto the robot arm, testing the horizontal levels and evenness of the frame by move the Kuka arm along the x & y axis and adjusting it accordingly on the z axis so that it was the correct height.

We also added in 1 second pause before the program would start to allow for time to configure from the moment of pressing start.

Big Batik with Kuka

We decided it would be nice to create a continuous line design to work with the batik, for both visual and practical reasons (I used a silly abstract photo of my father, repeated and mirrored it.)

When you use a regular size tjanting/canting with wax on a silk screen, the tjanting should be touching the fabric and pressed down. The continuous line would help this, especially as the wax would flow continuously as the batik tool has an integrated heater to keep the wax at a steady temperature.

My design was loaded onto Rhino and the Grasshopper program followed it perfectly. We had a few drips after the batik tool was brought up. The whole drawing process took only a few minutes.

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Dying and finishing the fabric

As one of the students discovered in an unfortunate test, we could only really use a cold wash dye for the batik as any heat in any dye wash, would start to dissolve the batik wax. I have yet to choose a dye but I really wanted it to be dark, like an indigo or a red.

In the end I chose a black Dylon pack, which partially worked. Here you can see the first two images show when it has been taken out of the dye bath and laid flat as it still shows the creases from being sat in the dye bath.

It wasnt as successful as I would have liked. Next time I would use a second batch of dye, but I also thing the line of the batik drawing could have been pressed a little closer to the fabric and so the wax would have gone into the fibres more.

The last photo shows the fabric hung up as a make-shift curtain at my fathers home.


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