The Facadeprinter is a simple robot with one purpose: to paint a programmed pattern on the surface of any building. It works on “inaccessible and uneven surfaces can be used for large scale prints” – covering places even the most skilled mural painters might have difficulty getting to or painting on. Naturally, the paint gun robot’s program accounts for wind speed, distance and other variables to ensure accuracy.
“A modified paintball marker serves as a printhead to shoot the color balls onto the wall. The two axis turn table positions the paintball marker using stepper motors and gears. Before printing, an integrated laser displays the bounds of the artwork on the wall to verify the precise position of the print. In case of malfunction or danger printing can be paused anytime.”
A two-axis turntable positions the modified paintball gun hooked into the core computer. The paint-filled, gelatin-encased capsules are catapulted at the targeted surface (outlined by laser pointers as a double-check) at over a hundred miles per hour. Needless to say, they burst on impact.
Like a movie-style sniper rifle rifle, the pieces break down into easy-to-carry components weighing under twenty pounds. The permanence of the artworks themselves are variable as well – eco-friendly, water-soluble paints can be applied that may disappear in days, or more permanent colors can be used to create long-term murals. One of the more fascinating applications to date is crisis communication: using these mobile machines to create post-disaster signage.
The machine works at up to 25 feet and paints at a rate of 5 paint dots per second, powered by an industrial PC and operated with touchscreen controls. A combination of site and surface photos (via a built-in camera) and the original artwork are combined by the software to create a plan for paint distribution. “The printing software then calculates the driving coordinates with respect to both perspective and ballistic distortion.”
One dot at a time, this robotic facade printer shoots balls of paint at surfaces to create a pattern – art at a distance, like a permanent digital projection.