Awesome Machines

Wainlux L3 Desktop Laser Cutter + Engraver

Wainlux L3 Desktop Laser Cutter + Engraver

This compact desktop laser can cut wood, acrylic, leather, and other textiles, and the 10-watt model can engrave just about anything, including glass and aluminum, and cut through 5mm wood in a single pass. Its bed is large enough for objects up to 8.26″ x 7.48″, and an optional roller allows for engraving cylindrical objects.

Mini Chain-Link Fence Machine

Mini Chain-Link Fence Machine

We’ve seen how factories make full-size chain-link fencing by bending and twisting stiff wire. Now watch how it’s done on a much smaller scale. W&M Levsha created this custom machine that bends copper wire into the proper angles to make a mini fence. The weaving still needs to be done by hand though.

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Machining Linked Copper Rings

Machining Linked Copper Rings

Watch as a solid block of copper is magically transformed into a set of linking rings with the help of talented metalsmith Viktor Leontiev and his trusty milling machine. The finished piece looks great set onto its hand-turned wooden base.

How a Bowling Pinsetter Machine Works

How a Bowling Pinsetter Machine Works

We’ve previously taken a behind-the-scenes tour of a bowling alley. This video from 3D animator Jared Owen offers a more in-depth explanation of the engineering and mechanics that go into the machine that magically straightens and resets the pins between balls.

Empty Places

Empty Places

Geoffroy de Crécy’s haunting short film is composed of a sequence of vignettes, each capturing a stark and lonely place, devoid of life other than humanity’s mechanical inventions. The subtext, of course, is what happened to all of the people, and where did they go? Mass alien abduction? Spontaneous combustion?

LEGO Tamburo Meccanico

LEGO Tamburo Meccanico

Inspired by a mechanical drum-playing machine designed by Leonardo Da Vinci, this LEGO music maker by Giuseppe Acito uses a series of pegs placed onto a spinning wheel to trigger sound sequences as its “fingers” press keys connected to synthesizers.

Monster LEGO Technic Tank

Monster LEGO Technic Tank

This impressive LEGO Technic vehicle uses 16 Mindstorms EV3 controllers and 48 motors to drive its tank-like treads along the ground. Its builder, Eric Steenstra says it can tow over 220 pounds, so he likes to use it to pull people in their wheelchairs.

Wall Mural Printer

Wall Mural Printer

Normally, if you want a mural on your wall, you need to paint it. But the guys at Russia’s Cool Print SPB have a computer-controlled rig that does all the hard work. The machine rides on rails and then moves along the wall like a gigantic inkjet printer, outputting large-scale, full-color images. Longer tracks = wider images.

LEGO Domino Machine 2

LEGO Domino Machine 2

We’ve previously seen a LEGO machine that could neatly distribute and space wooden dominoes. But this one works a bit differently. JK Brickworks‘ machine carries stacks of LEGO bricks in a cartridge then dispenses them to form perfect lines of dominoes. Its drivetrain allows it to be driven in straight lines or curves.

4-Side LEGO Walker

4-Side LEGO Walker

2in1 Bricking loves to create LEGO machines that can walk or drive. This particular model is designed to amble along the ground no matter which edge it’s placed on. Can you imagine giant robots or vehicles getting around like this?

The Mini Mutoscope

The Mini Mutoscope

Created by Tentacle Media Ltd., the Mini-Mutoscope is a 3D-printed replica of a 19th-century mechanical flipbook. The display works like an animation flipbook, only its movements are smoothly controlled by a crank. It holds up to 42 squares that you can load with your own animations, or one of the samples provided by Tentacle.

How Steel Chains are Made

How Steel Chains are Made

Think of how strong a steel chain can be. Then imagine the forces that must be necessary to shape and connect its links. In this video from Engineering and Architecture, we get an up-close look at a specialized machine that takes lengths of steel wire, then scores, cuts, bends, and presses the pieces together.

How Motor Coils are Wound

How Motor Coils are Wound

For a motor to work, it needs tightly-wound copper or aluminum coils to generate a magnetic field when current is applied. This fascinating video from NIDE shows how their machines do the work automatically, first loading an armature, then rapidly winding copper wire around its fins.

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Eyecam Eyeball Webcam

Eyecam Eyeball Webcam

Saarland University researcher Marc Teyssier created the creepiest webcam we’ve ever seen. The Eyecam uses six servo motors to realistically replicate the movements of a human eyeball, eyelids, and eyebrow, staring down its subject and making sure they are paying attention during Zoom calls.

Self-erasing Sand Machine

Self-erasing Sand Machine

Using parts from a 3D printer, custom laser-cut components, and LED lighting RCLifeOn created this mechanical table that uses a magnet and a ball bearing to draw complex patterns in sand, only to erase everything it doodles. On the plus side, as soon as it wipes out an image, it gets to work on another.

Mechanical Man Kinetic Wall Art

Mechanical Man Kinetic Wall Art

Mechanical engineer Kiyoshi Adachi created this wonderful work of kinetic wall art which features a tiny metal man who turns a crank, setting into motion a ballet of spinning gears and dancing rods. Those elliptical gears are especially cool.

Sandwich Assembly Robot

Sandwich Assembly Robot

Mechanical engineer Kuroki Yuto and his collaborators came up with a novel use for a 3D printer mechanism – using the 3-axis machine to manipulate and assemble parts. In this video, they show how the system can be used to put together a sandwich. They used the same technique to assemble a toy car and to fold a shirt.

Bowling Ball Balancing Machine

Bowling Ball Balancing Machine

Try to balance a bowling ball on a circular object, and you’ll almost certainly fail. But engineer Stepan Ozana shows how it’s possible to do just that with a machine. It uses a principle called LQR and REXYGEN control software to monitor the ball’s position and to rapidly move the wheel back and forth to keep the ball from falling.

Propeller Copying Machine

Propeller Copying Machine

Aviation enthusiast Viktor built a custom machine that can make identical copies of paramotor propellers. Area28 shared this video that shows how it works by the form of the original, much like one of those machines they use to copy keys. Skip to 6:10 for the money shot.

How Espresso Machines Are Made

How Espresso Machines Are Made

How It’s Made takes us inside the factory for WEGA, makers of high-end commercial espresso machines. There, industrial machines transform sheets of steel into parts, then skilled workers assemble dozens of components, including a large copper and brass boiler that sits at the center of each machine.

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Useless Machine Battle

Useless Machine Battle

A useless machine is a contraption that’s designed to automatically flip its own switch off as soon as you flip it on. Fornax built a pair of 8-switch useless machines, then linked them up to flip each other’s switches, resulting in a perpetual battle for switch-flipping supremacy.

Boston Dynamics Stretch Robot

Boston Dynamics Stretch Robot

Skynet, er Boston Dynamics reveals another of our future robotic overlords. Stretch is a wheeled robot that uses an articulated arm and suction grabber to pick up and carry objects, reducing repetitive and back-breaking work for humans. Watch it pick up a Spot robot, then set up and operate a box handling line.

Finger Flick Machine

Finger Flick Machine

Is your finger flick underpowered? Worry no longer! Thanks to The Q, there’s now a solution for weak finger flickers. The maker designed and fabricated a metal cover that gives his middle finger an extra boost of power thanks to a spring-loaded mechanism. This must be killer for paper football games.

LEGO 7-Segment Display

LEGO 7-Segment Display

A while back, expert LEGO engineer and mathematician Alexander Holroyd created a 7-segment display that uses LEGO Technic parts to change digits. Fello LEGO fan and GBC builder Fernando recreated the intriguing machine, and shared video footage of his version in action.

Wind-up Marble Machine

Wind-up Marble Machine

Most of the marble machines we’ve seen are either powered by gravity or motors. But builder Daniel de Bruin shows us how he made a mechanism that stores up energy using a spring, carrying marbles to the top of a tiny bent-wire maze using a Ferris wheel of sorts.

Self-Balancing Cube

Self-Balancing Cube

It’s pretty tricky to balance a cube on one of its corners or edges. But ReM-RC shows off a really cool machine they built that does just that automatically. The system uses an ESP32 controller, an MPU-6050 gyroscope-accelerometer chip, and a set of three servo motors that spin wheels to maintain its balance.

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