“Rose Engine” Drawing Machine

Craft & Design Robotics
“Rose Engine” Drawing Machine

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Craig Newswanger has been an Army photographer, a laser light show artist, and a Disney Imagineer. Now, he’s a senior engineer at Zebra Imaging in Austin, where, as I understand it, he is essentially a professional holographer. If that resumé doesn’t make you just the teensiest bit jealous, you are a better person than I. In Drawing Machine II, Craig takes inspiration, in part, from 19th-century “rose engine” lathes used to perform a complex radial engraving technique called Guilloché (Wikipedia). He writes:

Guilloché is the word used to describe intricate repetitive patterns often used in security printing and fine metal working. The machine uses three micro-step motors that are controlled by a program written in PureData. Careful control of the motor speed ratios and positioning of the pen arms results in complex patterns. Some of the best patterns are the result of setting the speeds very near but not quite on specific harmonic relationships. The pen traces a Lissajous curve and the paper rotates beneath the pen, thus tracing out the complex pattern. The patterns take from 10 minutes to and hour to create.

The embedded video is well-produced, wonderfully clear, and very thorough. It starts by introducing the 1920s-era toy that sparked the concept, proceeds to the construction details of the machine itself, then to the software interface, and then wraps up with some mesmerizing footage of the machine in motion and some of the beautiful drawings that result.

New Drawing Machine « Resonance Studio Workshop


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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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