Choreographed Iron Dust

Technical Information

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TechnoFrolics offers a range of configurations, services, sales and rental options, with examples including:

Additional pricing factors include quantities ordered, display size, lighting, commercial versus educational application, and the like.

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Technical Description

The exhibit's visible grid of cactus-like objects is made up of permanent magnets covered with very fine iron powder the consistency of flour. The fur-like strands that form are the result of millions of tiny iron dust particles lining up along the magnetic field lines.

The exhibit's motions result from modulating this permanent magnetic field with a matrix of powerful computer controlled electromagnets. These electromagnets are made by winding a coil of copper wire around an iron-based core and running variable electric current through the coil.

In interactive versions of the exhibit a sensor pad device projects a high-frequency, low voltage and very safe, electric field, and registers changes in this field as users move their hands above the pad. There are multiple sensors in the pad, each of which controls the electric current in one electromagnet. The pad detects both x-y (left-right) and z (height) position of a user's hand(s). (The electrical parameter that is altered by hand position and detected by the sensor pad is the ‘capacitance’.)

We occasionally receive questions from students, science fair volunteers, and others, asking how they might create a simpler item based on current designs, etc. We've created this page to address such queries.

Details Regarding Case Fabrication

For more technical detail, including safety, lighting, case design, cooling, dimensional information, and more, please contact TechnoFrolics for an access code, and then go here.