TORONTO WEARABLES MEETUP 20: NICK PUCKETT, ALEX BERIAULT
Friday August 19th, 2016

Assistant Professor Nick Puckett begins by asking, “how does one take “hacking” into the realm of chemicals and smart materials?”  Rather than programming with electricity, Puckett’s interest has been in finding alternative ways to create materials that can sense and response to environmental stimuli using a method other than programming with electricity.  And so, he discovered and turned to shape memory polymers (SMA’s). He has been interested in how we (the common folk) can learn to make these materials without the challenge of dealing with large-scale manufacturers – hence the title of his talk at TWM, “Do Not Contact the Manufacturer:  Chemical Programming with Responsive Polymers”. In his talk he spoke about Nitinol, a shape memory wire that can be trained, affected, and then reformed to its original shape.  The temperature at which it changes is 90C, which is quite hot and not an ideal temperature for the majority of artists and designers who’ve attempted using it.  Puckett states that it is theoretically possible to engineer the wire to have a lower temperature threshold, however it has not happened because there is no apparent industrial application.  Where big industry goes manufacturers follow, leaving the little guy (with ingenious ideas) in the dust.  This has set Nick Puckett up for his own adventures in chemical engineering.  He studied with Dr. Yang-Tse Cheng and Dr. Zach Hilt, who were at the time engineering a self-healing car paint.  Through his studies he came to learn about the mixing and curing process for making SMAs, and the challenges associated with them.  The initial challenge is to acquire the necessary chemicals, which can only be done with certain credentials and through authorized sources.  The second challenge is to be able to afford the equipment for curing.  In the labs in which Puckett was working, the UV curing scanner cost $10 000.  Puckett felt that with his skills, knowledge, and hackivism, he could engineer a DIY equivalent, and that’s just what he did.  His current (in progress) Black Box curing scanner is an Arduino and Processing-driven UV scanner that can be controlled using an Android App.  And, as far as his prototypes go, it works.  With a prototype off the ground, Puckett ran a 4-day workshop in which participants were invited to engineer their own SMA and then use it to create a wearable piece.  The objective here was to look at how this could be on the body and respond to different heat sources.  Theatre lights were enough to actuate these pieces.

What Puckett loves about SMAs is that it’s a sensor, actuator, and a material all in one. In an ideal world (and with lots of work), he would love to see SMAs used as a temperature-responsive building skin. 

Alex Beriault is a 5th-year Sculpture/Installation student at OCAD.  She began making wearables within the SCIN curriculum, but at the time wasn’t clear how her performative wearable pieces could enter into the realm of fine art.  Beriault is interested in the theatrics of wearable art pieces and how they influence her behavior and the behavior of the viewer.  She works to include her viewers in her artworks: “Performance is a flesh-to-flesh experience, and when you’re there you feel that you’re actually involved”.  Noting that “the body is our interface for how we communicate with the world”, she inquires whether we as humans can become the wearable technology, and whether the body can become the prosthetic for the object.  In the image below, Alex is seen with her wearable table, which is a table with no legs that rather relies on the user to support the table with their own legs.  This is an example of the body becoming the prosthesis for the object, in a secondary yet fully functional manner.



, , ,
socialbody's picture

Assistant Professor Nick Puckett begins by asking, “how does one take “hacking” into the realm of chemicals and smart materials?”  Rather than programming with electricity, Puckett’s interest has been in finding alternative ways to create materials that can sense and response to environmental stimuli using a method other than programming with electricity.  And so, he discovered and turned to shape memory polymers (SMA’s). He has been interested in how we (the common folk) can learn to make these materials without the challenge of dealing with large-scale manufacturers – hence the title of his talk at TWM, “Do Not Contact the Manufacturer:  Chemical Programming with Responsive Polymers”. In his talk he spoke about Nitinol, a shape memory wire that can be trained, affected, and then reformed to its original shape.  The temperature at which it changes is 90C, which is quite hot and not an ideal temperature for the majority of artists and designers who’ve attempted using it.  Puckett states that it is theoretically possible to engineer the wire to have a lower temperature threshold, however it has not happened because there is no apparent industrial application.  Where big industry goes manufacturers follow, leaving the little guy (with ingenious ideas) in the dust.  This has set Nick Puckett up for his own adventures in chemical engineering.  He studied with Dr. Yang-Tse Cheng and Dr. Zach Hilt, who were at the time engineering a self-healing car paint.  Through his studies he came to learn about the mixing and curing process for making SMAs, and the challenges associated with them.  The initial challenge is to acquire the necessary chemicals, which can only be done with certain credentials and through authorized sources.  The second challenge is to be able to afford the equipment for curing.  In the labs in which Puckett was working, the UV curing scanner cost $10 000.  Puckett felt that with his skills, knowledge, and hackivism, he could engineer a DIY equivalent, and that’s just what he did.  His current (in progress) Black Box curing scanner is an Arduino and Processing-driven UV scanner that can be controlled using an Android App.  And, as far as his prototypes go, it works.  With a prototype off the ground, Puckett ran a 4-day workshop in which participants were invited to engineer their own SMA and then use it to create a wearable piece.  The objective here was to look at how this could be on the body and respond to different heat sources.  Theatre lights were enough to actuate these pieces.

What Puckett loves about SMAs is that it’s a sensor, actuator, and a material all in one. In an ideal world (and with lots of work), he would love to see SMAs used as a temperature-responsive building skin. 

Alex Beriault is a 5th-year Sculpture/Installation student at OCAD.  She began making wearables within the SCIN curriculum, but at the time wasn’t clear how her performative wearable pieces could enter into the realm of fine art.  Beriault is interested in the theatrics of wearable art pieces and how they influence her behavior and the behavior of the viewer.  She works to include her viewers in her artworks: “Performance is a flesh-to-flesh experience, and when you’re there you feel that you’re actually involved”.  Noting that “the body is our interface for how we communicate with the world”, she inquires whether we as humans can become the wearable technology, and whether the body can become the prosthetic for the object.  In the image below, Alex is seen with her wearable table, which is a table with no legs that rather relies on the user to support the table with their own legs.  This is an example of the body becoming the prosthesis for the object, in a secondary yet fully functional manner.