Week05 - Molding, Casting, and Composites

DISCLAIMER!!! I DID NOT EAT, DRINK, OR IN ANYWAY COMSUME ANY OF THE RESULT OF THIS EXERCISE. The materials I used were NOT FOOD SAFE. The following was for experimental and developmental purposes only.
That out of the way, this week was about molding, casting, and composting (the kind with layers of fiber in a matrix not the digital movie making kind). I'd had a few ideas dealing with ice on the laser cutter or ShopBot, but to be honest, milling ice is a waste of time. Clever but useless. It's a perfect casting material. Pours in fluid, sets reasonably rigid. This week gave me the opportunity I was looking for.

What you see above looks like a simple ice cube tray. But you would be wrong! Ha ha! Take that. It's a VERY SPECIAL ice cube try. A MAGICAL ice cube tray. It is, in fact, a tray for making ice cubes that contain carefully measured amounts of booze in the correct proportions for making cocktails. That's right. Let me repeat that. COCKTAIL CUBES. Gone forever are the days of measuring "jiggers" and "shots" with their messiness and inaccuracies to make cocktails. Banished are the diluted, over shaken libations of yore (when EXACTLY did "yore" happen? And why was my "mama" there?). Simply take the proper ratio of SpiritCube™ to MixerCube™ , place in shaker, and vibrate hard enough to break ice. The spirit is pre-chilled so shaking time is diminished (we're all in a hurry, right?) and you can't get the mix wrong. Instant Bartending Skills through Digital Fabrication! How is this Miracle of Science created? Read on, O' intrepid seeker. (Or Neil, if you're the only one who's made it this far for grading purposes.)
Taking the above Lightwave model, which the Partworks3D software will read natively (suck it, Maya!) I created three tool paths to create the molds for all stages of the process from a single 3D object. Here you can see the negative of the main cavity and the beginning of the "press" which will evacuate the water and leave a cavity for the spirit or mixer. You will also see a small mistake.

Oops. Yes, guess who didn't check that his finishing bit was the same length as his roughing bit. Luckily the insulation foam is compressible, and the collet was more than happy to just squish it a bit and keep going. It probably would've been fine since it was only off by 1/8th of an inch, but it was ugly and made a god awful noise, so a quick adjustment to the tool path and the problem was fixed with only a slight sacrifice to the cube volume.

I know given a half of a jar each of the casting material that I wouldn't have enough OOMOO to cast the entire piece. I also knew I only needed four functional units to make a complete cocktail as a proof of concept. So as you can see, I biased casting material to where I needed it the most. Below are the negatives pulled from the mold which will cast the positives in ice.

After filling the main tray with water and inserting the "presser" piece, then waiting until frozen, the cubes await their divine cargo. (Ever notice there are gods for fermentation but none for distillation? No wonder I quit going to church.)
And then came the moment of truth.

SUCCESS! Not the clean lined cubes of elegance I'd envisioned, but what prototype is? At least they worked. The top plates had sealed off the chambers perfectly and no leaks were detected as they were pulled from the mold.

Four perfect working units. Proof of concept. And in the right proportion. Yes, that's a lot of Vermouth. That's what makes it a Martini. Winston Churchill and Hawkeye Pierce did more of a disservice to the Martini than anyone else. Don't listen to them. One was a raving alcoholic and the other a fictional character. I'll leave you to guess which was which. Would you take either's advice about anything else? I didn't think so. Without Vermouth you're just drinking iced gin. At least throw in some Angostura and make a Pink Gin (Princess Margaret's favorite drink, neither an alcoholic nor fictional.)

Sweet Sweet Victory. Sure wish I could've drunk it. I didn't. Once I get the food safe casting material I'll re cut the molds a little more exact, a little deeper for the top plates (I had to drizzle water to ensure a tight seal),and with slightly thinner walls. The thicker walls held together fine but took some extra heavy agitation to break the cube. Other possible drinks with this configuration is a Margarita using Lime Juice as the cube itself holding Tequila and another holding Triple Sec. Manhattans and Pegu Club's are a gimme.
Possibilities abound!
So, until next time then, Space Cadets! NovySan, OUT!