String art is a really creative way of creating illustrations by drawing thread or yarn between pegs on a board. You may have even made string art yourself at one of those hip “art and wine” evening events. But, those usually rely on the placement of the pegs and the color of the string to produce something recognizable. This industrial robot creates amazing string art by varying the density of the intersecting threads strung between hooks.
First, 256 hooks are arranged in a 25″ diameter circle. A huge robot arm then decides how to wind a continuous thread through the hooks in order to reproduce an image. That image can be anything, but black and white photos work the best. Portraits are ideal, because a face is still recognizable at a low “resolution.” The robot’s algorithm can determine which two hooks to use for a thread segment, and which sides of the hooks to wrap around. Depending on its complexity, a single photo can take between two and five hours to reproduce.
The entire image is made from a continuous, unbroken line of thread, which can end up being anywhere from 1.2 to 3.7 miles in length. The beauty of the system is the algorithm that can determine how to place the thread in order to shade in different parts of the image. A single thread segment may need to pass through both a dark area of the photo and a light area, which affects where subsequent segments can pass. And, because the thread is unbroken, each segment needs to end in an area that is ideal for starting the next segment. The beautiful art is even more impressive when you consider the complexity of calculating those paths.