Ferrofluid Clock Moves Like Elegant Little Caterpillars

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Ferrofluid Clock Moves Like Elegant Little Caterpillars


It squiggles, collects, and disperses. Amalgamous fluid blobs zip along what appears to be a predetermined path. This substance is magical and uncanny, behaving almost like a living creature. In short, this clock is mesmerizing. So how does it work?

Created by designer Zelf Koelman, Ferrolic is a clock that displays time in a liquid that is controlled by magnets. Yes, really. The name of the substance is ferrofluid, which becomes strongly magnetized, thus making it the perfect material for this concept. The fluid responds to magnets encased within the aluminum frame in order to render a display of the current time, but Koelman describes it as something far less mechanical and far more fantastical:

Ferrolic was designed from a strong fascination for the magical material Ferro Fluid. The natural dynamics of this fluid makes that this display bridges the gap between everyday digital screens and tangible reality.

Because the fluid behaves in a unpredictable way, it is possible to give the bodies perceived in the Ferrolic display a strong reference to living creatures. It is this lively hood that enables Ferrolic to show a meaningful narrative like for instance having the creatures play tag. In addition the natural flow of the material, it can be used to form recognisable shapes and characters. Ferrolic uses these both layers in parallel in order to display scenes and transitions in an poetic, almost dance like, choreographed way.

On his website, Koelman explains that while the design and construction are considerably durable, the fluid itself has a short lifetime of perhaps only a few months if used regularly. He offers separate replacement modules to combat this.

Not only is the Ferrolic a work of mechanical and physical ingenuity, it’s connected as well. It operates over Wi-Fi via a phone or tablet, whereby the display can be controlled on a web browser.

Only 24 of these clocks have been produced so far, and with a 7,500€ price tag, it might be easier to try making your own. To try your hand at DIY ferrofluid, check out this guide featured on Make:.

[via This Is Colossal]

For more information, visit the Ferrolic website.

7 thoughts on “Ferrofluid Clock Moves Like Elegant Little Caterpillars

  1. atxproffer says:

    why is this a Make article? You can’t make it, no schematics, plans, etc are available. They’re selling it

    1. Random guy says:

      It actually looks pretty simple to make…. I could probably make one without schematics.
      Obviously it uses an electromagnet or Electropermanent magnet array, some control circuit board such as an arduino, and a bit of clever programming… none of which sound all that hard….
      If you need a schematic to do something then your not very intuitive…

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      2. atxproffer says:

        uh I’m pretty sure everyone and their poodle has figured out it’s using electromagnets. Probably a grid with certain coils being activated in sequence to generate the animated display.

        BUT, my point, is this is Makezine. Usually the articles they do point to a DIY for the same. So we dont waste time and money trying to reinvent the wheel, yeah?

        Also: “you’re”, not “your”.

        1. sophiacamille says:

          Absolutely. We love to post projects that show you the step-by-step, sometimes it’s nice to post things simply because they are inspiring builds that others have made. At the end of the article you’ll find a link for making your own ferrofluid. If you try it, we’d love to see your results!

        2. Random guy says:

          No S#^% Shurlock. I was just stating how simple it was…
          damn… no need to start a insult contest.
          If they’re letting people make their own instead of saying “no this is patented you have to buy a fully built model” you should be fine. wouldn’t hurt to make sure before hand though. Makezine should be on top of it so readers don’t get in trouble. The schematics shouldn’t be hard to figure out without wasting money… as long as your intuitive.

          (oh and woopty doo i forgot to use the contraction “you’re” instead of the slightly different word “your”. oh man what a crime. no one is perfect and that goes for language skills as well. no needs to bust my balls over a small mistake.. I do know the difference btw… I just accidentally used the wrong word in a hurry.
          I’ll change it though so you can feel better…)

      3. atxproffer says:

        and not to mention, since they’re selling it as a professional company, they can go after you if you copy them. (e.g. post videos/schematics online showing your own version for example..)

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Sophia is the managing editor of the Make: blog. When she’s not greasing editorial gears, she likes to run, ride, climb, and lift things, and make lo-tech goods like zines, desserts, and altered clothing. @sophiuhcamille

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