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FireWriter prints images onto wood with a blowtorch

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April 10, 2013

The FireWriter is a handheld printer that burns pictures onto wood with a torch, while an ...

The FireWriter is a handheld printer that burns pictures onto wood with a torch, while an optical sensor keeps track of the image's positioning

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For the most part, printing out an image on an inkjet printer is a pretty mundane task – unless you add fire of course. That's exactly what Lucien Langton, a student at ECAL (Ecole cantonale d'art de Lausanne), did when he built the FireWriter, a handheld printer that burns pictures onto wood with a torch, while an optical sensor keeps track of the image's positioning.

To make the FireWriter, Langton hacked a standard inkjet printer to connect it to an Arduino Uno and attached a set of rollers and hand grips to the sides. Then, for the most important detail, he replaced the print head with a Dremel torch filled with a butane/propane mix that heats up to a scorching 1200 degrees Celsius (2192 Fahrenheit).

After feeding a black-and-white image through a Processing script and sending the resultin...

After feeding a black-and-white image through a Processing script and sending the resulting code to the Arduino board, the printer begins to burn line by line as a series of dots. A person has to manually move the FireWriter along a flat surface as it prints, but an optical sensor and calibration module ensures each burn is placed in the right spot.

According to Langton, the FireWriter can engrave images onto a variety of surfaces, including wood, paper, plastic, and fabric. The duration, strength, and precision of the burn can be adjusted manually during printing to account for different materials or to change the printed image quality.

Check out the video below to see how the FireWriter burns images onto a wooden "canvas" while somehow managing to not set the whole thing ablaze.

Source: Lucien Langton

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.   All articles by Jonathan Fincher
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1 Comment

It's the calibration module that's the magic. You buried the lead !

He can walk along, and the printer tracks the previous dot pattern to calibrate itself for where the next one goes?

I suppose you don't get just how "disruptive" a technology like that is.

It would change robotics as we know it.

Robot Vision systems look for a pattern match, and then the robot grabs the best match it can see.

But that's non-moving objects.

Add this calibration module, and the robot could memorize the pattern of objects in the bin or feeding tray so even if this is a moving conveyor belt it would still know where the part is without scanning for it again.

William Carr
13th April, 2013 @ 12:29 pm PDT
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