Willem Pennings, a mechanical engineering student at Eindhoven University in the Netherlands, is known for his engineering projects, which he enjoys working on in his free time. He is proud to say that some of them have even reached the front pages of Reddit and Imgur. I guess you can say Pennings knows what's up when it comes to making cool stuff.
His latest project is a candy sorting machine that sorts M&M's and Skittles according to color (video below). Pennings says that he's always wanted to do a project like this one for sorting colored candy, and that one YouTube video provided the inspiration needed to make it happen. The candy sorter in that video looks just a little different from Pennings' version, but the idea is the same.
In his blog, Pennings describes how he created his own machine using an Arduino controller, stepper motors, an RGB color sensor and 3D printed parts. He goes on to explain how the machine actually works, sorting M&M's and Skittles by obtaining optical measurements using the RGB color sensor. The machine sorts about two pieces of candy per second, and usually makes it through a whole bag in two to three minutes.
So, here's how it works. Candy pieces are poured into the "hopper," which is the funnel-looking device at the top. While in there, the candy pieces are constantly mixed so that the machine doesn't clog. There's a scanner wheel with four slots at 90 degrees apart for performing measurements, and after the sensor takes three measurements, the item's color is determined. That's when the exit tube is chosen to guide the candy piece to the correct container. The LED strip that encircles the machine isn't just there to look decorative (although it does do that), it's actual purpose is to provide visual feedback.
I'm not sure when or where this product would come in handy, but it's still pretty neat. Watch it in action in the video below to truly be amazed by Pennings' genius.