Flingbot, a robot that hurls paint at canvases

By Clive Thompson

Jay of JBV Creative is an engineer and artist who specializes in 3D printing to make gorgeous automata — you can see some of his models, like a handcranked marble coaster or flapping crane, at his online shop here.

Last month he unveiled Flingbot, a robot that — in a vaguely Jackson-Pollock-like fashion — hurts paint at canvases. It's made of 3D printed parts, servos, tubes, and a deformable silicone scoop made in a custom-designed mold, all controlled by an Arduino.

In that video he documents the build, and describes his design decisions — including injecting enough randomness in the robot's throwing and paint-picking parameters that it produces over 3 trillion possible combos, meaning every work of art is makes is unique.

From his YouTube description …

To my surprise, it actually worked! Flingbot created paintings that far exceeded my own personal ability to paint (This was the main reason for my Engineering degree, right?). Using some randomized Arduino code that picks from a plethora of different parameters, Flingbot's paintings are truly one of a kind. Based on the parameters and some basic combination math, I estimated that Flingbot is capable of 3 trillion different painting possibilities (the number is likely higher due to variables out of Flingbot's control).