THE BEST Machines

Shifted Lever Machine

Shifted Lever Machine

While there’s no such thing as an actual perpetual motion machine (pesky physics!), this is still a cool demonstration how an off-balance mechanism can run for a relatively long period of time with minimal energy input.

AxiDraw V3

AxiDraw V3

The latest version of Evil Mad Scientist Labs‘ versatile pen plotter can write on most flat surfaces, using a writing instrument of your choice to create intricate, precise, and repeatable drawings and handwriting. It runs at up to 2x the speed of the old model.

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Record Player Drawing Machine

Record Player Drawing Machine

Using a pair of record players, a stick of wood, a binder clip, a fine point pen, and some tape, you can make a machine that traces the movements of one turntable’s arm, to make abstract art on the other’s platter. You can make something even cooler with a little extra effort.

Insanely Precise Cutting

Insanely Precise Cutting

A demonstration of a tight tolerance object cut out of two pieces of steel using Wire EDM, a technology which uses an electrically-charged wire which can cut through objects with as tight as 2 microns of tolerance. View another example here.

Weaving a Chain Link Fence

Weaving a Chain Link Fence

We love seeing unusual machines work their magic to produce items we take for granted. Here’s a machine which takes spools of stiff wire, and twists them into the interlocking rows of a chain link fence, while another set of tools twists the loose ends together.

The Great LEGO Box Factory

The Great LEGO Box Factory

Students at Germany’s Jade Hochschule created this amazing machine which uses Mindstorms mechanisms along with a class 4 laser to cut, score, and fold a tiny paper box – the one and only product of the world’s smallest factory. Naturally, the place is staffed by Minifigs.

Washing Machine Rhythm Section

Washing Machine Rhythm Section

At one point or another, we’ve all encountered an off-balance washing machine that starts making horrible sounds. This guy seized the opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade, using the incessant banging noise as the backing track for Louisiana Saturday Night.

INDUSTRIAL JP Factory Videos

INDUSTRIAL JP Factory Videos

After being transfixed by their video of springs being made, we decided to check out some of the other videos on music label INDUSTRIAL JP’s YouTube channel, and each and every one of them is equally as fascinating.

Waterjet Carved Jack-o-Lantern

Waterjet Carved Jack-o-Lantern

While we enjoy hand-carving pumpkins for Halloween, we’d be cool letting this 60,000 psi industrial waterjet cutter perform the task for us. The folks at the Waterjet Channel show how their cutter can crank out a jack-o-lantern in 30 seconds flat.

Towing Trailers by Hand

Towing Trailers by Hand

Normally, when you need to move around the trailers from an 18-wheeler, you need a big rig to pull them. But with Verhagen Leiden’s V-move Elektrotrekker XXL, an individual can tow around an entire trailer much in the same way they’d pull a little red wagon.

Incredible Conveyor System

Incredible Conveyor System

Hypnotic footage of an Intralox conveyor system, which uses a series of active roller belts to move individual products into perfect formation for loading onto pallets. The objects seem to move into position as if by magic. This demo is equally enthralling.

LEGO Drawing Machine

LEGO Drawing Machine

Jason Allemann of JK Brickworks shows off a relatively simple, yet awesome LEGO machine which uses a motor and hinged arms to move a pen in repeated geometric patterns, resulting in Spirograph-like drawings. Jason provides full instructions for building your own here.

LEGO Soda Machine

LEGO Soda Machine

We’ve seen lots of LEGO vending machines, but never one that can dispense liquids. ElectryDragonite used a pair of Mindstorms NXT servo motors to create a hydraulic pump that to send soda through the machine and into a glass once the customer pays up.

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The World’s Largest Elevator

The World’s Largest Elevator

This marvel of modern engineering at China’s Three Gorges Dam is capable of lifting 6.7 million pounds of boats, water, and people to a height of over 34 stories. It takes 40 minutes to get to the top, shaving more than 2 hours off of the previous route over the dam.

Metamaterial Mechanisms

Metamaterial Mechanisms

Researchers from the Hasso Plattner Institute show off a unique material – one which can have mechanisms built into it through the use of cellular grids. These allow for motion as they collapse and expand, eliminating the need for traditional mechanisms like hinges or gears.

Wazer Desktop Waterjet Cutter

Wazer Desktop Waterjet Cutter

Until now, waterjet cutting has been reserved for large industrial shops, but the Wazer aims to bring the tech to every workshop. It uses a high pressure stream of water and abrasive particles to slice cleanly through even the hardest materials, with precision and smoothness.

LaserStacker

LaserStacker

Engineers from the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at Germany’s Hasso Plattner Institute demonstrate an innovative use for a laser cutter – to not just cut materials, but to use their heat to weld layers together, forming fully-assembled 3D objects in the process.

Laser Engraved Denim

Laser Engraved Denim

While laser engraving is typically done on wood or acrylic, this video shows a laser system which is used to add patterns or a pre-washed look to blue jeans. The completed fashions aren’t our style, but the tech is really cool. Plus, the music just makes it so much more dramatic.

Jet Ponies

Jet Ponies

(LOUD) Imagine a merry-go-round that spins its passengers around at breakneck speeds, propelled by jet engines, and you’ve got this insane thrill ride. Madagascar Institute created this crazy thing a few years back, and so far, it hasn’t killed anyone.

The Road Zipper

The Road Zipper

Also known as the Barrier Transfer Machine, this amazing heavy duty machine is used to move a length of over 13,000 feet of concrete and steel median barriers – each weighing 1500lb – to gradually change the flow of traffic on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

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Self-Balancing Stick

Self-Balancing Stick

Mike Rouleau shows off a neat bit of tech – a device which stands on a needle-like tip, but keeps itself balanced by constantly adjusting the direction and speed of motors. As one commenter put it: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

LEGO Pizza Vending Machine

LEGO Pizza Vending Machine

The latest creation of LEGO vending machine maker AstonishingStudios is a Pizza Hut-themed pan pizza dispenser. It accepts five $1 bills and can have up to two pies in reserve. It also dispenses correct change.

LEGO Domino Machine

LEGO Domino Machine

File Mattias Wandel’s LEGO Technics contraption under “oddly satisfying,” as it moves along neatly and evenly spacing wooden dominoes. Now we need Mattias to build a companion machine that knocks them all over.

Friction Welding in Slow-Mo

Friction Welding in Slow-Mo

While much welding is done by adding molten hot metals with a torch or electrical current, friction welding creates strong joints by rubbing metal together at a high speed. Here, two blocks of titanium are merged into one. If you thought that was cool, check this out.

How to Give a Cow a Pedicure

How to Give a Cow a Pedicure

Well, here’s one of the stranger contraptions we’ve ever laid eyes on. This special machine can pick up an entire cow, and gently lay it on its side so farmhands can safely trim its hooves. And yes, it’s totally normal to use a disc grinder, so don’t freak out.

Floating Router

Floating Router

Wooden Tool Man shows off a janky, but useful woodworking tool he put together – a router arm which can be moved smoothly along a tracing path to quickly produce turned wood shapes on his lathe. It ain’t pretty, but it does get the job done.

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