robotics | design | human-robot interaction


Foam Decay | Dispenser Design

architectural foam elements

dispenser design

mechanical decay of blue foam using acetone


decay process video

Harvard University Graduate School of Design  |  Fall 2013
Professor: Andrew Witt
Course: Expanded Mechanisms / Empirical Materialism
Project type: Dispenser Attachment for Laser-cutter Frame


The project experiments with the confluence of blue foam as a building material and a potential medium for design exploration. Using acetone, we carve the volume of the foam through material decay. The chemical
process substitutes the typical physical manipulation of blue foam with an added benefit, the foam and acetone fuse to form a material boundary that is both water tight and capable of material finishes like paint or varnish. In order to achieve repeatability of our experiment, we designed and fabricated a computer controlled dispenser which integrates into an existing laser-cutter bed frame. Using a precisely calibrated acetone drop amount, we were able to achieve a highly controlled decay form.