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3D Printed - Smart glacier with ESDK and designs

The smart glacier is an educational device that can alert you when the indoor air quality of the place you are in is going wrong. The parameters that I´m considering analysing are Co2 and VOC. I decided to represent them with different behaviours, collapse and melt respectively.

But... Why a glacier?

In this process of research to achieve the best way to design an object that can make visible something that is not (a gas), I thought a lot about a transformation of material, for example, how the ice is transformed into water.

Remember that our bad behaviours with the air affect directly the global heating caused by the greenhouse effect and one of the victims in this horror history before us, are the glaciers and the poles.

If we add a natural resource, like a glacier, to give a character of being alive to connect with people, the object makes sense. A great example of this feel in a  product could be the legendary Tamagotchi which is a digital pet that you have to take care of, feed him and in the worst panorama it dies.

When I started the project I didn't have an idea of how important it is to have the right ventilation in the space we are living, working or hanging out. I´m sure that I pass long periods of time without opening the window. Now that I know the consequences, I take more care about it and this project gives a creative solution and makes me more conscious about how important the quality of the air is in our lives.

My first experience with this situation was when I was prototyping with an mq135 sensor and a servo motor to check how the values change along the day. I discovered that when I was cooking, surprisingly the servo started to act because the values go up from 800 to 1400 ppm.

Global Map

Inspiration for glacier design

Make Visible - Something invisible

Manuel Sketching his Design for a Glacier

Sketch of Glacier Design

Animation of Glacier melting

The shape

Something pure, clean and compact. Desk sized, completely apprehensible. Not invasive, like an ornament.

To visualise this I think a lot about what a smart artificial glacier could be, how is a natural formation interpreted by technology, code and 3D printing. If a machine had to make a glacier, how it will be?

Shape of the Glacier

3D Prints of Glacier

Animation of 3D print

Melt Glacier with removable collection tray


An epic moment in this project was in receiving the AQ kit and assembling it. An amazing experience, following the step by step guide, is completely recommended.

ESDK Kit being assembled

ESDK Kit fully built

ESDK - with Sensors attached


The glacier is composed of two mechanisms to generate the different effects. The first one is a peristaltic water pump that is designed for the object. My special thanks to @Hey Jude to help me in the solution of this component and sending me that "maker vibes" to inspire me with the development. For a time, I was thinking to get a standard one but the offer of the local market couldn´t supply the requirement that I need to cover. An alternative was to import a few pieces from China but the delay was too long to continue with the project. So with this maker advice, I decided to make mine according to the measures.

The second one is a gear rack that transforms the gyratory movement of the servo motor into a translational one, with this generating the collapse.

The idea is to integrate the different systems into the final model, maybe with some adjustments and a few failures inbetween.

Prototyping Equipment

Arduino housed in 3D printed enclosure

Creating a 3D printed pump

Servo motor rack

Creating code to control Glacier melt

What's next

The project is currently in a prototype phase in terms of physical and coding development. The way to follow is to work only with the AQ kit, make a personalized module that will be connected with it and take all the data from the sensors and send it to the glacier.

The best is yet to come. Stay tuned!

Hey there ! I´m Manuel, an industrial designer from Argentina. I´m here giving my proposal for the air quality project: The smart glacier is a device that can alert you when the air quality of the place you are in is going wrong thru different behaviours, melt and colapse.