About this project
Right now, there is probably something sitting on your desk that twirls, squishes, bobbles, spins, rolls... it occupies your periphery day in & day out taking up valuable desk real estate. It's something that provides you that momentary distraction from the mundane, something that engages you sufficiently to shift focus just enough, something that allows your hands and eyes to remain occupied while your brain wanders, processes, dreams. Our goal was to reimagine that something... that perfect distraction... Introducing, LiquiMetal.
Before we even began the design phase, we spent a better part of two years working out the chemistry behind the suspension. Ferrofluid is expensive and remarkably difficult to work with as it likes to stick to any container you place it in, tends to deteriorate very quickly into an unattractive, lumpy, agglomerated, reddish brown semi liquid blob, and reacts chemically with just about anything you use to stop those things from happening. Success proved to be a daunting and arduous task that was equal parts chemical process and chemical composition. In the end we were able to create a suspension that is safe, cost effective and fully preserves the original beauty of the ferrofluid.
Adding color to the ferrofluid was another challenge entirely. It started as a shot in the dark that resulted in something we absolutely had to do and ended up spending months on getting just right. This particular blue/violet shifting tone is one of many we can produce, however initially we wanted to provide a color that looked great and one we knew we could do well as some colors require a specific formulation and method of manufacture.
After countless designs and variations on those designs we found one that stood above the rest. With both a vertical and horizontal orientation, it proved to be both versatile and functional in its primary purpose as a display for ferrofluid and maintained a design element that was aesthetically pleasing.
We started with the type and shape of the glass to ensure the ferrofluids functionality and view-ability would not be compromised. Off-the-shelf square/rectangle containers were simply not aesthetically pleasing and thier manufacturing process results in a wavy inconsistent product that limits visibility to only two sides. A round vessel solves that problem by giving you a full 360 degree view but a container too large also results in a lensing effect that we were able to correct by customizing the diameter.
Selecting high grade anodized 6061-T6 aluminum and extruded acrylic as our primary materials allowed us to keep manufacturing in-house as it does not require specialty tooling or a skill set outside of what we already have and the paring of anodized aluminum, glass and laser cut acrylic simply provided a look and feel that can't be achieved with injection moulded grade plastic without considerable initial mould cost and specific expertise.
The 6061-T6 anodized aluminum wand was designed to compliment the main display and house the N-40 Neodymium magnets that allow you to control the density / fluidity of the ferrofluid. Size, shape and strength of the magnets are critical in getting the proper effect from the ferrofluid, so we elected to use two of the most powerful rare-earth magnets available in each easy to hold wand.
While we have already spent considerable time and resource on research, development and tooling, we now need your backing to order materials at bulk prices and get the help that will allow us to keep manufacturing in-house. Running a Kickstarter campaign also gives us an opportunity to gauge market demand / sentiment as well as gain valuable feedback and suggestions from our backers before we scale our operation.
Risks and challenges
This project was slated to come to kickstarter when we first discovered a way to keep the ferrofluid from smearing the glass over a year and half ago. Since then we have worked out the greatest challenge in this project, keeping the ferrofluid from degrading in the suspension and are at the point where tooling has been acquired, assembly jigs have been made, design elements have been tested and we have even worked through a short production run. While scaling up production always comes with its own set of challenges, our in house manufacturing allows us to overcome potential obstacles with greater efficiency, our supply chain has been vetted with back ups in place, and knowing that we did it once gives us the confidence to overcome any challenge that may arise in the future and do it again.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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