A robot That Ties The Knot

Feb 10, 2005

An ASME member and retired engineer who once designed biomedical instruments is busy in his basement building a machine that can automatically tie a knot in a necktie. Dr. Seth Goldstein, who has worked as a mechanical engineer for 40 years, will complete the robotic device this summer for display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. There, the job of Why Knot will be to inspire the analytical and creative abilities of young men and women and raise awareness of mechanical engineering as a career choice.

"As a kid, I took the tour of the factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and was astonished with the automated process of wrapping the paper around the chocolate bars," explained Goldstein, who attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a founder of the Bioengineering Division at ASME. "I believe Why Knot can inspire people in the same way and instill in them the desire to conceive and create."

Visitors who walk past Why Knot will activate a sensor that automatically starts the machine. Why Knot is a kinetic sculpture machine that consists of electric motors that send power to pulleys, levers, and other mechanical components, which grasp, pull, and manipulate the necktie to secure a standard four-in-hand knot. The device also unties the knot. Goldstein and a friend wrote a computer program that provides the automated and sequential control of the DC motors. All the electrical and mechanical components of Why Knot are contained in a 2' by 3' footprint.

The machine that Goldstein is readying for exhibition at the Franklin Institute is a more robust model of an earlier version that took the inventor 2 ½ years to build in his spare time at night and on weekends. Goldstein is designing increased intelligence as well as a self-correcting function into the second-generation Why Knot.

This year, ASME is celebrating its 125th anniversary. The founding of ASME in 1880 is intertwined with the early history of the Franklin Institute, which during the middle and late 19th century was a prime vehicle for disseminating information about mechanical engineering.

ASME continues to sponsor educational and public awareness programs aimed to inspire young people towards careers in mechanical engineering and technology.

Why Knot will be a permanent exhibit in the newly renovated Mechanics Hall at Franklin. "I hope it's a real attention-getter," said Goldstein. The ASME Foundation has provided $30,000 for the project.

Goldstein holds 12 patents for inventions in the areas of pneumatics, instrumentation, medical devices, and microscopy. He is the former head of the mechanical engineering section at the National Institute of Health. He is a Fellow of ASME.

Explore further: Mapping the world's linguistic diversity—scientists discover links between your genes and the language you speak

Related Stories

Blacklist warnings spread on websites in North Korea

14 minutes ago

North Korea, already one of the least-wired places in the world, appears to be cracking down on the use of the Internet by even the small number of foreigners who can access it with relative freedom by blacklisting ...

'Map of life' predicts ET. (So where is he?)

1 hour ago

Extra-terrestrials that resemble humans should have evolved on other, Earth-like planets, making it increasingly paradoxical that we still appear to be alone in the universe, the author of a new study on ...

Baby seals that practice in pools make better divers

1 hour ago

Being able to dive is what matters most for seal pups, but how do they learn to do it? Grey seal pups that can play in pools may have better diving skills once they make the move to the sea, and this could ...

Recommended for you

Australia left for dust on early childhood education

2 hours ago

A new McKell Institute report shows Australia is being left behind by other developed nations that treat childcare as a vital early childhood education opportunity for all, and not simply 'babysitting' for mothers returning ...

Lady, you're on the money

Jul 03, 2015

So far, women whose portraits appear on U.S. money have been a party of three. Excluding commemorative currency, only Sacagawea, Susan B. Anthony and Helen Keller appear on coins in general circulation, according ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.