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Mural Printer

Paint-spray print-head on large XY frame
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Quickly (overnight) and cheaply transfer graphics, text, and images to large surfaces using a multi-color, multi-nozzle paint sprayer that moves about on an XY motion frame. A small amount of Z motion compensates for surface irregularities. Art can be easily applied (indoors or out) to walls, doors, floors, ceilings, billboards, and truck trailers. By leaving the printer in place, a billboard could be updated daily until the accumulated paint became too thick (about a month?).

This is too simple and too good not to be already baked, but owners of local sign shops haven't seen or heard of it. If it is available, I want to buy into it. If not available, I'm ready to start the design.

I've had this idea for a few years, but am now in a position to pursue it. I recently stumbled upon the Halfbakery and found the idea was emerging from the "Building Facade Carver".

pasodad, Jun 09 2002

Computerized Artists http://news.bbc.co....1647000/1647086.stm
Computerized paint systems are well-baked, but here's someone offering computerized creativity with paint. [jurist, Jun 10 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) GraffitiWriter http://www.appliedautonomy.com/gw.html
"GraffitiWriter is a tele-operated field programable robot which employs a custom built array of spray cans to write linear text messages on the ground at a rate of 15 kilometers per hour. The printing process is similar to that of a dot matrix printer. GraffitiWriter can be deployed in any highly controlled space or public event from a remote location." [egnor, Jun 10 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) It's baked! http://www.pixation.com/
Printer blows paint off of fine wires onto wall. [pasodad, Jul 17 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

GPS Art http://www.gpsdrawing.com/index.htm
If you travel around with a GPS tracking device, you can draw pictures on a GPS tracker. [hippo, Oct 17 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) Baked again! http://www.hektor.c...t+Hektor/Hektor.pdf
Hektor is a vertical plotter, pretty much exacly as degroof imagined it... [dbsousa, Oct 17 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Fat Jab http://uttermatter.com/fatjab/
Not 2D, but five spray nozzles, one for each finger. [jutta, Oct 07 2005]

Faux Machine Faux_20Machine
[theircompetitor, Oct 07 2005]

deponk/Recyclism PrintBall™ http://www.recyclism.com/printball.php
Inkjet meets paintball. Kersplatter. [jutta, Jun 30 2006, last modified Sep 11 2008]

(?) Printbrush 4x6 www.printdreams.com
prints onto any surface, without the XY frame. Not quite mural-sized, yet. [afinehowdoyoudo, Dec 04 2011]

[link]






       Hm. A giant plotter. As long as its priced out of the market so that graffiti 'artists' can't use it.
[ sctld ], Jun 09 2002
  

       // I recently stumbled upon the Halfbakery and found the idea was emerging from the "Building Facade Carver". //   

       Emerging? It was there, fully emerged. Hippo framed it and I made the declaration. " You'd see the paint heads zoom up and down the building on cables painting your design," said hippo. "I have this image of a huge plotter pen moving around the front of the building," replied waugsqueke, on Jan 31 2002.
waugsqueke, Jun 09 2002
  

       who said your memory was faulty?
po, Jun 09 2002
  

       The “water color paint heads”, “huge plotter pen”, and “computerized paint systems” apply a color at a time. They are not quite the same as a printer mixing primary colors in discrete dots. This printer connects to your computer and puts art on the wall as simply as an ink jet printer puts art on paper.
pasodad, Jun 10 2002
  

       The cable idea is very clever Mr. DeGroof, but I believe its small size and ease of setup are outweighed by its shortcomings. Having a motion control motor in the paint unit would add mass where it’s not wanted and make it more difficult to design a slip-less gripper. Perhaps an improved version would have the two take-up reels control all the motion while the paint unit hangs from a fixed point on the cable. Even this version has too many shortcomings: + Wind could blow the paint unit away from the wall. + Settling times for step changes in position vary with position and cable length. + The Z-axis motion to compensate for grout or corrugation would swing the paint unit. + Ceilings and non-vertical walls would be impossible. + I prefer not using floating-point math if it can be avoided.   

       I envision using a framework looking more like a building scaffold and operating like a commercial XY table. The paint sprayers would travel horizontally along a rigid pipe. This pipe would travel vertically on tracks attached to the “scaffold.” More vertical tracks are used on long walls to keep the horizontal pipe from sagging excessively. The paint unit’s motion will be a simple raster scan. Paint would be piped to the paint unit through flexible hoses.   

       The paint unit still needs a lot of thought. What technology is most appropriate for getting paint to the wall as dots (air, airless, dauber)? Will primary color paint (vs. ink) “dots” mix consistently from separate jets, or will each dot need to be premixed? Larger dots should be available to speed printing of art viewed from greater distances.
pasodad, Jun 10 2002
  

       [pasodad], no need to limit mural art to Lichtenstein's Ben Day screen-printing dots, though he did once make a five story tall mural for the lobby of the Equitable Life Assurance building in New York. Ben Day dots were developed primarily for small format work, not large mural sized pieces. Dot printing was developed originally as a technological answer to a limitation of the screen printing medium and it's ability to reproduce tones "pointillistically" from cyan-magenta-yellow and black on a white ground in small formats, not because it was easier or quicker to "read"; Large scale murals on the side of a building would not have any such limitations, except as a matter of artistic style, or the most penny-pinching economy.
jurist, Jun 10 2002
  

       I would suggest turning DeGroof's solution upside down with the two units on the ground, each one with a pivoting pipe that the painter unit travels on. The motored ground units could decide the position of the third by their respective pipe angles or, with cog-toothed pipes, the third unit could move itself to the correct positions.
FarmerJohn, Jun 10 2002
  

       Aside from the fact that hiring art school graduates is probably the cheapest option, how about spraying the building with photograph development chemicals to effectively turn it into photographic paper, and using a giant photo enlarger (like a slide projector) to print the image onto the wall. This would require total darkness and lots of (fairly expensive) chemicals, but would be ideal for indoors, and especially for monochrome images.
pottedstu, Jun 10 2002
  

       Thank you, Jurist, for the reference to Lichtenstein. I was assuming the primary color dots would be mixed at the pixel (as in ink jets) and had not considered groups of primary color dots that would be blended by vision (Ben Day process). The mural printer should use mixed colors if possible to avoid the pointillist effect at expected viewing distances. Perhaps a special version could be used to more quickly and cheaply “print” on tall buildings and water towers using Ben Day dots.
pasodad, Jun 10 2002
  

       Taking FarmerJohn’s idea one further, the ground unit would set the pipe angle, the paint unit would set the radius, and the position would be simple polar coordinates. I’ve seen a graduate project from Berkeley that attempted using a polar plotter to draw straight lines. It wasn’t pretty. I believe the mechanical engineering needed to make this work is not worth the savings in weight or setup.
pasodad, Jun 10 2002
  

       Steve DeGroof: Any power required by the head could easily be supplied by the cables, along with any needed control signals. Supplying the paint through the "cables" would also be possible, though the momentum of the paint in the cables/tubes could cause undesirable jarring.   

       On the other hand, if the system were designed properly, it might work acceptably. After all, for any level of winding on the two cables there is one and only one stable position; provided neither cable is allowed to get too close to vertical or horizontal, this approach could work quite well.
supercat, Jun 10 2002
  

       I was just about to suggest paint-ball guns also. Anyone (not I) want to start a new printer description?
pasodad, Jun 11 2002
  

       Supercat: Ignoring elastic characteristics of the cable (at own risk), it is stable in only two dimensions. Keeping the sprayers from swinging away from the wall, or rotating about their attachment to the cable, needs to be considered.
pasodad, Jun 11 2002
  

       Sounds like you need a claymore mine on a small crane with a specially prepared, honeycombed, paint cassette directly in front of the charge. Boom! and the mural is complete.
FarmerJohn, Jun 11 2002
  

       egnor: The “GraffitiWriter” is getting close, but it’s like comparing an old 7-wire dot-matrix tape printer to a full color inkjet.
pasodad, Jun 11 2002
  

       I've had a dream to build one for a long time now. About 10 years ago I built a small prototype using a lead screw from a garage door, 4 Volkswagen fuel injectors for valves and my old Commodore VIC20 computer as the controller. I was able to print pictures about 3' x 3' using this device but never built a larger one. I still think this is a great idea...
JimP, Jun 11 2002
  

       All we really need is a little robot with an extra accurate GPS receiver and a big spray can, no?
Jeremi, Jun 11 2002
  

       Way to go JimP! I plan on doing this and would like to learn from your experience if you don't mind contacting me (pasodad@aol.com).
pasodad, Jun 11 2002
  

       [Jeremi] Ask, and ye shall receive. For something which is almost what you're talking about, see link.
hippo, Apr 07 2003
  

       It must be the time of the year for invention. I received one query a few weeks ago and two today. I'll have to add an update at the half-bakery.   

       The mural printer was more than I could handle by myself. I changed to a simpler project, but I still ran out of money before I developed anything. I'm back to long commutes, working for others, and trying to manage my credit card debt.   

       Here is most of what I found...   

       The LAC Art Robo at http://www.laccorp.jp/index.html was the closest commercial product that I found last year. Their machine uses airbrush techniques. I revisited the site and found they have some newer interesting products.   

       The Wire Jet at http://www.pixation.com/ can apply thick paint to a vertical surface, but the manufacturer did not recommend it for my use last year. Their concept was to apply paint to a canvas so an artist could work it into a painting. I just now revisited the site and found that they have a Blade Jet that applies paint to a horizontal surface for signs and art. There is also mention of a Wire Jet 2 that could be exactly what we want -- but there is little information.   

       What would make the mural printer very popular would be the ability to apply bas relief art directly to walls and then optionally paint it. By applying plaster or slightly expanding plastic foam from a print head, dimensional art can be built in layers. This technique could also be used to create fancy textured effects for walls?   

       My idea was to make the equipment portable so art could be applied on location. With the recent advances at Pixation the time may be good to try it, but I no longer think I can do it.   

       I wish you all luck, and I hope you'll let me know if you make progress.
pasodad, Aug 22 2004
  
      
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