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Printing Sheep

Weekend Project: Reuse Old Filament Spools to Create a 3D Printed Zoetrope

Picture of Tyler Koslow
by Tyler Koslow
Nov 10, 2018

Weekend Project: Reuse Old Filament Spools to Create a 3D Printed Zoetrope

Do empty spools of filament make you blue? Well, cheer up! Dominik Císař of Prusa Research shows us how to reuse a spool of Prusament to create a 3D printed zoetrope that features prancing sheep!

Earlier this year, the widely beloved 3D printer manufacturer Prusa Research decided to throw its hat into the filament game, releasing a line of 3D printing materials branded as Prusament. Founded by Josef Prusa, the Czech-based company has already conquered the desktop FDM printing market with the Original Prusa i3 MK3 and its predecessors. But as of recently, the Prusa team has since expanded into filament production and even SLA 3D printing.

The Prusa team is currently selling a colorful range of PLA materials and will release PETG and ASA in the near future. Not only is Prusament manufactured in-house, thoroughly tested, and inspected for quality control, but it also comes winded on a useful spool. Usually, once a spool of filament has finished serving its purpose, the user is left with an empty mini-Ferris wheel of plastic waste.

However, Dominik Císař, Art Director and Creative Content Specialist at Prusa Research, has recently shared a few interesting and fun ways to reuse a bare Prusament spool. One project he shared was the 3D Zoetrope, a classic twist on the 19th-century optical toy that rotates pictures to create the impression of continuous motion. In this case, the spool is used as the base, spinning an array of 3D printed Sheep to make it look as if they’re jumping for joy.

In today’s Weekend Project, we’ll take a look at this particular Prusament-based 3D printing project. While we’re unsure about whether this Zoetrope can be created from any old spool, this project still provides some inspiration into how you can recycle spools and make 3D printing more sustainable.

Let’s take a closer look!

Weekend Project: 3D Printed Zoetrope What You Need & How to Build it

Císař has shared the STL files for the 3D printable zoetrope on Thingiverse. Each one of the sheep should probably be printed with support structures, particularly those that have their hooves in the air. The 3D printed part of the project consists solely of eight different sheep and a single spool attachment mechanism.

Other than that, here’s what else you need to build your own 3D printed Zoetrope:

Once the STL files are printed and your Prusament spool is empty, it’s time to put together your Zoetrope. The assembly process is pretty easy and straight to the point. Taking the spool frontage, click or super glue the 3D printed sheep into place. Follow the photo below to ensure that they are attached in the correct position.

Next, insert the radial bearings into the bottom and the top part of the 3D printed attachment, sliding both parts onto the rod. Lastly, just push the spool with the grazing 3D printed sheep onto the top of the mechanism. Now you have a 3D printed Zoetrope! But there’s still one more step to fulfill this sustainable and fun project.

In order to create the zoetrope effect, you have to match the shutter speed of your camera with the spinning speed. The designer explains how to do this in the Prusa blog post:

“To test it, just start recording and spin the zoetrope with hand. When it will be slowing down you will experience the effect for a second. But it is amazing. Feel free to adjust the zoetrope with a stepper and transfer gears to have a constant speed which you could easily match the camera shutter.”

And that’s how you can create a 3D printed Zoetrope using an empty spool of Prusament filament! To learn more about this project and other ideas from the Prusa team, check out the blog post here.

License: The text of "Weekend Project: Reuse Old Filament Spools to Create a 3D Printed Zoetrope" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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