The goal behind the ferrofluid sculpture was to have it capture people’s attention. The way ferrofluid moves around a magnetic field has a certain appeal to the human eye due to its ability to flow and transform shape. Using an all glass case would add a sharp edge to the display by making it look modern and sleek.
The display itself has no functional purpose besides being a work of art. It’s great to see people get lost in the fluid as it rotates around the base of the glass casing. I plan on using it as a centerpiece in my new home later this year. Fortunately I used a high torque, low noise emitting motor making the whole display almost silent when in action.
*Pending final picture/video after a fresh cleaning*
I have been fascinated by ferrofluid ever since I came across it years ago in a lab and have always wanted to work with the stuff. There is an exhibit in the ITLL that continues to tease my interest every time I walk by. The deep purple/black color is captivating to me especially when it is being magnetized and taking on different forms. The way it free flows and climbs around a magnetized surface is such a unique effect. I knew right off the bat how difficult it is to work with ferrofluid from talking with my peers and researching online, but if there is a will there’s a way.
There are 2 very difficult parts of this project that can both cause failures:
- The assembly of the glass encasing. It is vital that the edges of the glass case are completely sealed. I used a silicone fish tank sealant to accomplish this. Initially I tested the case by filling it with water and making sure there were no leaks. But when switching to ferrofluid, I found issues. Since mineral oil is less viscous then water, it found cracks that the water could not.
- Transportation. Any sort heavy vibrations forced on the display will cause the ferrofluid to jump around and splatter on the top surface of the display. It must be handled very carefully.
14 February – Acquire and test ferrofluid behavior
21 February – Preliminary Design complete
7 March – Small prototype built
13 March – Final design complete
20 March – Acquire materials
27 March – Cut and prepare glass
4 April – Assemble and test glass casing
9 April – All parts machined
12 April – Final Project assembled
12 April — Current – Iterate upon design based off knowledge of ferrofluid behavior