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3 Roll Mill

Fall 2021 - Present

Fall 2021, I took the class How to Make (Almost) Anything, which is run by the MIT Media Lab's Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) group. For my final project, I chose to fabricate a 3 roll mill for manufacturing watercolor paint (see Paintmaking page). 3 roll mills don't mix materials, but refine them; the shear provided by the micrometer-wide gap between rollers crushes pigment particles and evenly disperses them throughout the binder. For watercolors, this makes the difference between paint having a gritty, uneven texture and a smooth, homogenous glaze.


I started by researching the structure and function of commercial mills, then began CADing each component of the mill, then stepped into MIT's Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity (LMP) to fabricate the machine. This was the first project in which I was able to apply engineering theory to actual practice. I researched flexures; developed a model to analyze bending, buckling, and yield; and machined carefully to achieve press-fits and produce parts within tolerance. I've now been working on the mill for a little over a year, as it's tough to find free time, but I've learned so much about engineering since I've started. I now realize that the flexures aren't performing as expected due to having a taper from waterjetting; fortunately, I'll be delving into FEA for flexures soon (see page on 2.72) and can assess my next steps.


Click on the photo gallery to read more about how I designed and fabricated each element of the machine.

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