Additive Manufacturing Strategies

A Hot Cup of Tea Served with a 3D Printed Robotic Steeper

ST Medical Devices

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steepingAs Rube Goldberg knew all too well, the point of a wonderful machine isn’t that it saves you effort but lies in the very satisfaction of having created it. Not everything in our crazy, overworked, action-packed world has to be a time saver; in fact, the very opposite is sometimes true. Making something may take longer than the action it is supposed to perform, but the process is the point. And in the case of Andy Leer’s latest creation, the reward is both the success and a nice, hot cup of tea.

Inspired by a project he saw on Little Bits and in need of a good cup of English Breakfast, Leer set about building the structure in TinkerCAD and creating the electronic components that would give them life. The print itself doesn’t require supports and the long arm attachment is set in motion by a standard mini server, an Adafruit Pro Trinket.  Not that we covered a similar project earlier in the year which uses different components.

In an interview with 3DPrint.com, Leer explained his creation:

“The Arduino is programmed so that once the button is pressed it goes through a 4 minute cycle of steeping the tea. Currently at each minute mark, it moves the tea up and down a few degrees of the servo arm. Once it’s done with that cycle the onboard LED goes off and the tea is raised out of the water.”

2015-07-14_23.57.11_preview_featuredIn the first 24 hours after creating his mechanized brewing assistant, he used it to create four cups of tea in three different vessels and found it to be equally satisfactory in each despite the slight variations in size. His next challenge is to add a chime or sound that will alert him when the tea is ready. So that he did not accidentally find himself inventing a ‘tea flinging’ machine, he worked to adjust the code to mimic the gentle raising and lowering of a tea bag as it would be steeped by hand, something that required the special VarSpeedServo Library to be installed.

teasteepr_1_preview_featuredLeer has always enjoyed sharing his projects and working with others to develop his skills. In this spirit of communal learning, he has shared the files for his design on Thingiverse. You can also find him acting the host for the monthly Microcontroller Meetup at TechShop Pittsburgh every 3rd Wednesday of the month from 6-8 pm. So, if you’re in Pittsburgh, you may want to stop by and participate.

If you’re lucky, Leer will be playing the banjo with his bluegrass band: Lonesome Lost & Foggy. Be sure to ask if you can have a piping hot cup of tea.

Will you be automating your tea making? Let us know what you think about this fun, if not really necessary, contraption in the 3D Printed Tea Steeper forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

 

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