Art meets science in this sculpture showing off a levitating cube requiring no power source.
Ever see those cool gadgets on your co-workers desks with the powered levitating globe? Or a levitating top that stays floating as long as its spinning? What would be cooler than that?
How about a levitating cube that doesn't use ANY power?
That's right, in this kickstarter project I want to mass produce a sculpture I designed that levitates a small magnet without a power supply. It uses two magnets, three types of metals (one has to be cast), and a beautiful wooden support structure to tie it all together. There are two height adjustments so you can experiment with your own magnets to get the most lifting distance!
Here's the baltic birch version:
The 'laser-cut-look' MDF version:
And last, but certainly not least, the limited edition clear acrylic version:
I've gone through a number of iterations, carefully chosen the right combination of magnet and metal components, and even melted and cast some of them to get the maximum effect. The laser time for each iteration has been the most expensive part of the learning process, and I'm not completely finished tweaking everything. I'm a perfectionist, and I want to give you the best product possible! After being funded, I'll be set up for mass production, and the best new customers are friends of happy old customers! The post-project price will be around $10 more than the pledge price, (not including shipping) so save money and pledge now!
Once we've reached my funding goal, I'll release the plans for the magnetic levitation sculpture. It will be free for anyone to download for their own use under a Creative Commons Share Alike Non-Commercial Attribution license. If you have access to a laser cutter, you can cut your own!
Please note that super-magnets are used in this project, so if you have a pacemaker, or are affected by strong magnetic fields, you should be extremely careful with your pledge reward. In any case, remember not to put anything that might be affected by a strong magnetic field close to the sculpture! It is best displayed on a shelf so the cube is at eye level.
Schools love them too!
My daughter thinks this is cool, and I think a lot of science classrooms would like this as well, so anything pledged under the minimum sculpture award amount will go towards sending these beauties to schools!
Here's what comes in each kit (makes a complete working sculpture):
- All the laser cut parts to put together the sculpture.
- One large 'lifter' magnet, and one small levitating magnet.
- Two cast metal parts; one that goes above the levitating magnet, the other one goes below.
- One elevator bolt, nut, one locking nut, and three brass bolts & nuts. All the bolts and nuts you need to hold the magnet and two cast metal parts. Nothing is needed to hold the cube magnet! One bolt is needed to hold the sculpture together.
- Instructions in case you need them, and an explanation of how it works.
The current prototype kit (will change a bit while I optimize):
What your money will be used for
I'll be using the funds from this project to purchase the raw materials, a high power precision laser cutter for the structural parts and melting and casting equipment for the two parts that need to be cast. Renting laser time and paying for casting and the raw parts would cost more than the sculpture reward price and would not allow me to sell the sculptures at this price. If we pass the goal, that just means I'll purchase a higher power laser, and you'll get your kits made faster! More on project costs/goal calculations here.
In the meantime I'll be tweaking the sculpture and update you with new pictures as I make progress.
No! The cheapest way to make a cast for my prototype was to drill a hole in 1/2" metal, and pour the metal into it. Because the drilling doesn't produce a smooth cut, all the imperfections are replicated in the cast piece. Also, since the hole was the same at the top and bottom, I had to use a hammer to knock it out, causing tiny pieces to chip off the edges.
For the final sculpture, I'll be doing one of two things:
1) Having the holes laser cut (by an industrial laser. A $20k laser can't even scratch metal.) and using that to cast. Those holes are a bit tapered, so not only would they be smoother, they'd be much easier to get out of the mold, so only a light tapping should be necessary.
2) Having the pieces cut directly by the industrial laser. I'm waiting to hear back if they can cut it, and if its a reasonable price.
Either way, the final product will look MUCH smoother.
The secret is in the two cast metal cylinders. They're made of a diamagnetic material, bismuth metal, in this case. A diamagnetic material weakly repulses any close magnetic field; the stronger the field and the closer the magnet, the stronger the repulsion.
So basically we have a strong lifter magnet stationary at the top, and a loose cube magnet being pulled towards it. We put some bismuth above the cube magnet, which very weakly repels the cube magnet, so we have to adjust it to the point where the repelling of the bismuth is stronger than the attraction of the lifter magnet. At this point, the cube magnet would drop, but we also put a bismuth tube underneath, which, once we adjust it correctly, pushes the cube back up just enough so that the three magnetic fields are in perfect balance. Gravity keeps it centered directly underneath the lifter magnet.
Pledge $1 or moreYou selected
Sculptures for schools! All the money pledged for this reward goes to making magnetic levitation sculptures for school science classes. We'll also put your name on a special Thank You page in the instruction manual.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $40 or moreYou selected
An easy to assemble Magnetic Levitation Sculpture kit. Your choice of material (Baltic birch plywood or MDF) and finish (laser-cut 'singed' look, or clean, with minimal laser singes.). International shipping (Canada/Mexico - add $7; other - add $9)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $70 or moreYou selected
17 backers Limited (83 left of 100)
The Clear Winner: A limited edition clear acrylic Magnetic Levitation Sculpture kit. Very sharp looking, numbered and signed! International shipping (Canada/Mexico - add $7; other - add $9)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $80 or moreYou selected
The Show Off Pack: Two full kits, one to show off at work, and one to show off at home. Or maybe just an extra for a good friend! International shipping (Canada/Mexico - add $7; other - add $9)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $100 or moreYou selected
The Favorite Color: The Magnetic Levitation Sculpture kit in your favorite tinted acrylic color. (Choose from blue, green, black, red, yellow, or white.) International shipping (Canada/Mexico - add $7; other - add $9)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $245 or moreYou selected
The Ultimate! The Magnetic Levitation Sculpture kit in any combination of tinted acrylic colors. (Choose from blue, green, black, red, yellow, white, or clear.) No shipping charges!Estimated delivery:
- (30 days)