This Vacuum Chamber Is The Easiest Way To Perfectly Apply Decals To Toys

This Vacuum Chamber Is the Easiest Way To Perfectly Apply Decals To Toys

You know what skill kids are never taught in school? How to perfectly apply stickers and decals to their toys. And while it’s hard enough to properly stick them on a flat surface without training, it’s impossible to do so when it’s curved. Or at least it was impossible until Mattel designed a kid-friendly vacuum chamber that perfectly sucks decals onto any shape or surface.

The $US30 Graphic Skinz Design Studio sounds like a tool you’d find at an auto-detailing shop, but instead of wrapping hubcaps in fake carbon fibre skins, it’s designed to be used to add graphics, textures, and patterns to everything from toy cars, to smartphone cases, to jewelry — anything small enough to fit inside the chamber.

This Vacuum Chamber Is the Easiest Way To Perfectly Apply Decals To Toys

To make the magic happen all kids need to do is position one of the decal skins on or around an object, wrap it with a moistened sponge, and then place it all inside a plastic bag in the vacuum chamber. A simple push of a button sucks all of the air out of the bag which squeezes everything together, perfectly adhering the wet decal to any surface.

After 20 seconds you take everything out, smooth out any wrinkles on the decal with your fingers, and then let your creation dry for a minute or two — and that’s it. There are no harsh chemicals to deal with, no heaters needed for curing, and no crooked decals that look like a 10-year-old applied them by hand. [Mattel]

A Room-Sized 3D Printer Will Make Freeform Concrete Design Easy

A Room-Sized 3D Printer Will Make Freeform Concrete Design Easy

Concrete is an amazing building material: cheap to create, strong when used correctly and hard-wearing too. But turning it into exotic and shapely forms can be prohibitively complex and expensive. Now, a 3D printer capable of producing one-off moulds as large as a phone booth could help turn architectural dream into affordable reality.

The Engineer reports that a collaboration between 3Dealise, a 3D engineering company, and Bruil, a construction company, has spawned the new device. The pair claim that the machine — pictured below — can “create irregularly curved surfaces, lightweight half-open mesh or honeycomb structures, and even ornamental craftwork.”

A Room-Sized 3D Printer Will Make Freeform Concrete Design Easy

The printer is used to create moulds from CAD designs, which are then coated to allow the concrete to separate from them with ease. Then, concrete is poured in, along with any reinforcement; Bruil, for instance, has already created concrete segments using its fibre-reinforced concrete, which allows the structures to bear more weight than its vanilla counterpart. The moulds are weak enough to be removed with pressurised water.

Roland Stapper, from 3Dealise, compares the process to the ancient technique of casting metals in sand:

‘Normally, metal is cast in sand – it is a process that has been used for around 4,000 years. Using our printer we are essentially recreating this process, minus a step. As well as concrete, we can cast iron, steel, bronzes and so forth, and we are now looking at how to cast plastics and also rubbers – anything that you can pour, really.’

The resulting blocks can be specially designed to slot together — a little like Lego bricks — allowing them to create much larger, intricate structures. Brace yourself for concrete architecture that’s just a little less brutalist. [The Engineer]

Picture: Andreas Levers/Flickr

Some Very Patient Genius Soldered A Digital Clock From 1,916 Components

Some Very Patient Genius Soldered a Digital Clock From 1,916 Components

You would need a microscope to be able to see all of the miniature components etched onto the single tiny microchip powering the clock in a digital watch. But you can see them all with the naked eye on artist Gislain Benoit’s The Clock, which is made from 1916 hand-soldered components that end up weighing a hefty 6.35kg.

Some Very Patient Genius Soldered a Digital Clock From 1,916 Components

Designed and assembled over the course of three years, The Clock works exactly like the microchip in a digital watch, using mostly similar components — but it’s about as small as a digital watch made by human hands could get. The biggest difference between this and the basic Casio watch strapped to your wrist is that instead of measuring the resonance of a quartz crystal to keep track of the time, The Clock relies on the 60Hz alternating current used in North America. So every 60 pulses of electricity coming out of an outlet equals another second of time passing.

Some Very Patient Genius Soldered a Digital Clock From 1,916 Components

As a result, it’s not the most accurate of timekeepers because power hiccups occur quite frequently and can throw off the clock’s delicate calculations. But it’s supposed to be an art piece first and foremost, not a replacement for Omega’s timekeeping hardware used at the Olympics. And since there’s only one in existence, hopefully someone is smart enough to stick this masterpiece in a museum or art gallery. [Techno-logic-art via Make]

Some Very Patient Genius Soldered a Digital Clock From 1,916 Components

Pictures: Gislain Benoit

The First Hair Plug Machine Looks Absolutely Horrifying

The First Hair Plug Machine Looks Absolutely Horrifying

Think people going bald here in the 21st century have it tough? Just imagine what the folks of 100 years ago went through. Balding men were apparently so desperate for hair that they’d let a doctor near them with this terrifying machine.

I was flipping through my collection of 1920s magazines when I came across this absolutely horrifying image. As best I can tell, it’s one of the first (if not the first) machine invented for transplanting hair into a person’s head.

The First Hair Plug Machine Looks Absolutely Horrifying

The images come from a 1921 issue of Science and Invention and included an article about the procedure. Apparently Dr J. S. Parsegan of New York performed a number of these hair transplants for desperate men of the early 1920s. Above, Dr Parsegan is seen using his machine at the annual banquet of the Baldhead Club of America in Connecticut.

As the magazine explains:

The doctor ingrafts upon the head of each of the subjects a half dozen of health hairs plucked from the heads of beautiful and healthy maidens and specially prepared for plantation, etiher blond or brunette as desired.

The magazine assured readers that Dr Parsegan is no quack, apparently because his office is well stocked with the latest gadgets, including UV lights, X-Rays, and massagers. But quack or not, his hair transplant procedure certainly doesn’t sound very pleasant:

After [massage] treatment, Dr Parsegan inserts into a small machine a long female hair, not because the female hair grows better on a man’s head, but it is rather difficult to find a man with hair 18 to 20 inches long. He then goes over the scalp with the aid of a magnifying glass and the instrument and presses a tiny button whereupon the following takes place: Two lances force their way into the scalp carrying between their jaws a section of the female hair. The method of operation is very similar to that employed by the mosquito when it inserts its spears (at least they feel that way) into the skin of the man. The jaws then spread slightly, leaving the hair within the tissue and a knife cuts the hair off short. He then proceeds to another location and if possible plants the hair into a follicle.

Yikes. You’ll notice there’s no mention of an anaesthetic. There is, however, mention of the belief that this procedure will “restimulate” the follicles, allowing the patient to regrow hair again naturally.

Reportedly, the good doctor at least had the decency to try the machine on himself before subjecting patients to his treatments. Dr Parsegan plugged over 50 pieces of hair into his tender head. Now that’s what I’d call a hair-brained idea. I said, that’s what I’d call a hair-brained idea. Hair-brained. Because it’s hair.

Pictures: Scanned from the July 1921 issue of Science and Invention magazine

This Umbrella’s Built-In Bluetooth Reminds You Not To Forget It

This Umbrella's Built-in Bluetooth Reminds You Not To Forget It

There’s a never-ending debate when it comes to buying umbrellas: Do you spend a lot of money on an expensive one you’ll probably end up losing, or do you buy a cheap model that will most certainly break in a light breeze? Davek wants you to go the former route, and is now upgrading its umbrellas with Bluetooth in the hopes that you’ll never forget it again.

This Umbrella's Built-in Bluetooth Reminds You Not To Forget It

At $US80 for the first 200 people to back the company’s recently-launched Kickstarter campaign, The Davek Alert isn’t the kind of cheap disposable umbrella you’ll find at a convenience store. It’s actually built with quality materials that guarantee it isn’t going to collapse or flip inside-out the second the wind starts picking up. And even with the added Bluetooth hardware, the Davek Alert is actually cheaper than most of the standard umbrellas the company sells.

Hidden under a cap on the bottom of the umbrella’s handle is where you’ll find the actual Bluetooth electronics and a replaceable watch battery that should keep it running for about a year or two, depending on how often you need to carry an umbrella. It’s designed to maintain a constant wireless connection to a smartphone with a range of about 30 feet, and when that connection disappears, users will get an alert on their phones reminding them they may have forgotten it behind. It’s a simple but effective way to make it easier to justify spending a few more bucks on a nice umbrella.

This Umbrella's Built-in Bluetooth Reminds You Not To Forget It

The company is trying to raise a modest $US50,000 on Kickstarter before it officially puts the Davek Alert umbrella into production, but it’s been making umbrellas for years so there’s not much risk involved if you want to donate to its cause. The Bluetooth hardware is certainly new, as is the development of an accompanying iOS and Android app, but neither will be breaking new ground when it comes to that tried-and-true technology.

The only catch is that you’ll have to wait until September for delivery if Davek’s Kickstarter is a success, and who knows how many cheap disposable umbrellas you’ll use and toss between now and then. [Kickstarter - Davek Alert Umbrella]