3D Printed Mobiles
These 3D printed mobiles are the result of a collaboration between Marco Mahler, a kinetic sculptor specializing in mobiles, and Henry Segerman, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics at Oklahoma State University.
Available now through our Shapeways Mobiles Shop
[Click on images for high-resolution photos]
These mobiles come out of the 3D-printer completely assembled as shown in the photos and video. They are made of separate loose pieces connected to each other. The balance points for these mobiles were calculated to 1/1000th of a millimeter (1/25360th of an inch). The models for some of these mobiles were drawn up “by hand”, others were created utilizing scripts that we wrote. Some of the mobiles, like Mobile 4.2, are designed with a very small increase or decrease in thickness from one part to the next, something that is not possible to do with conventional handmade mobiles. Utilizing scripts also allows for designs that would be very time consuming to make by hand, such as the Quaternary Tree (Level 6), which has 1365 pieces.
We met via Twitter (Marco lived in Portland, Oregon, at the time, Henry in Melbourne, Australia) in early February 2013 when Henry was looking for suggestions for a motor for one of his 3D printed kinetic sculptures. A conversation ensued about the possibilities for making 3D printed mobiles. After about 300 emails, several conversations over Skype, hundreds of lines of code, and a number of test prints and trial-and-error experiments, the result is the collection of mobiles that is now available through our shop at Shapeways (a 3D printing service company). After an extensive Google search, it appears that these are the first fully 3D printed mobiles in the world.
All models are available in “White Strong & Flexible”, a laser sintered nylon plastic, one of the most popular materials for 3D-printing. Some of the smaller models are also available in “Black Strong & Flexible” and a variety of polished colors. This material is heatproof to 80C/176F degrees. Higher temperatures may significantly change material properties. It is also dishwasher safe (“Yay, finally a mobile we can put in the dishwasher!”).
If you’re not sure what 3D printing is, the Wikipedia page for it explains it rather well. If you’re not sure what a mobile is, see my definition, short history and photos of my handmade mobiles.
These mobiles ship directly from Shapeways, so lines and hooks to install the mobiles are not included, but these mobiles are very light, so most types of string or line will do. Fishing line has the benefit of being transparent.
These mobiles are printed to order. When you place your order with Shapeways, they will give you an estimated shipping date and send the model to their 3D printers for processing. Most orders ship before the estimated shipping date which is usually within 1 to 2 weeks from the time you place your order.
These 3D printed mobiles are not intended to be installed within the reach of small children. Some of them might be too fragile and some of them have small parts that may present a choking hazard. They are suited for decorative purposes only.
If for any reason you’re not happy with a mobile when you receive it, simply mail it to us within 30 days, and we’ll give you a full refund. Alternately, if it appears to be a 3D printing related issue, you can also contact Shapeways. They will look into cause of the issue, and depending on what they find, they may offer you a reprint. You can find Shapeways’ Terms and Conditions over here.
They’re also available for wholesale. Please contact us for more info.
We have more ideas for 3D printed mobiles that we’re planning on getting around to. If you’d like to stay updated on any new models that will become available, please enter your email address here:
Please let us know if you have questions or comments.
Thanks for stopping by,
Marco & Henry
These mobiles are also featured in Printing Things – Visions and Essentials for 3D Printing, a new book by publisher and creative agency Gestalten. It’s an inspirational and understandable exploration of the creative potential of 3D printing that introduces outstanding projects, key experts, and the newest technologies.
Also see the Smithsonian’s article about Henry’s work, the Guardian’s article about Henry’s collaboration with Saul Schleimer, and The New Yorker’s article about the Dice Lab project with Robert Fathauer.