Introduction: Bio-plastic Light

Picture of Bio-plastic Light

This project is a light installation made from homemade biodegradable plastic. During the last year of my Bachelor's degree, I worked on developing cornstarch based bio-plastics as my artistic medium of choice.

Step 1:

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Bio-plastic Recipe

-1Tablespoon Cornstarch

-1Tablespoon Gelatine

-1Tablespoon Vinegar

-1Tablespoon Water

-Food coloring of choice

Instructions

Step 1- Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan.

Step 2- Place on the stove top set at medium heat.

Step 3- stir the mixture constantly until it turns from a liquid to a gel.

Step 4- Use a spatula to remove the hot gel from the saucepan and spread in onto parchment paper.

Step 5- Place it out of the way in a ventilated area to dry completely. (This step may take from 2 days to 2 weeks depending on how thick you spread the gel out onto the parchment paper.)

Step 2:

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Electronics!!!

For this project, I used Arduino microcontrollers to create the flowing, flickering and fading light effects.

Link to the Arduino website where you will find endless fun to be had. https://www.arduino.cc/

Link to download the software for free - https://www.arduino.cc/

File-examples-basics-choose the fade sketch.

/* Fade This example shows how to fade an LED on pin 9 using the analogWrite() function. The analogWrite() function uses PWM, so if you want to change the pin you're using, be sure to use another PWM capable pin. On most Arduino, the PWM pins are identified with a "~" sign, like ~3, ~5, ~6, ~9, ~10 and ~11. This example code is in the public domain. */ int led = 9; // the PWM pin the LED is attached to int brightness = 0; // how bright the LED is int fadeAmount = 5; // how many points to fade the LED by // the setup routine runs once when you press reset: void setup() { // declare pin 9 to be an output: pinMode(led, OUTPUT); } // the loop routine runs over and over again forever: void loop() { // set the brightness of pin 9: analogWrite(led, brightness); // change the brightness for next time through the loop: brightness = brightness + fadeAmount; // reverse the direction of the fading at the ends of the fade: if (brightness <= 0 || brightness >= 255) { fadeAmount = -fadeAmount; } // wait for 30 milliseconds to see the dimming effect delay(30); }

Things you will need

Arduino board

bread board

connecting wires

leds

I used an Arduino Mega 13 PMW pins and Arduino Uno 6 PMW pins.

Step 1 - Place a connecting wire on the positive row of the breadboard

Step 2 - Connect the other end of the connecting wire to the 5v on the Arduino Board

Step 3 - Place a connecting wire on the negative row of the breadboard

Step 4- Connect the other end of the wire to ground on the Arduino board

Step 5- Place a LED on the breadboard

Step 6- Connect the positive leg of the led to one of the PWM pins on the Arduino board

Step 7- Connect the negative leg of the led to ground.

Step 8- plug in the Arduino board using the USB connection.

Step 9- Upload the "fading sketch" (be sure to edit the pin # in the sketch or use pin 9 like the example)

Step 10- Enjoy the fading led :)

I then manipulated the value of the brightness and fadeAmount in the Arduino "Fade" sketch to create a more dynamic sequence by playing with the LED's light intensity. Once you are happy with the number of led's and the led fading effects then you can move on to the final stages.

Step 3:

Final Installation

I installed the electronics on the wall then hung each individual piece of bioplastic using wire. I also experimented embedding the wire into the bio-plastic when it is still in gel form. I suggest building a light box to conceal the electronic wiring etc then secure the bioplastic in the front of the box with a heavy duty adhesive for a more permanent structure.

Please leave questions and comments below or email me lea_ann_mcnally@hotmail.com for more information about this project.

Comments

Swansong (author)2017-05-17

Those came out really well, very pretty!