I’m not much for things that just take up space and don’t have any useful purpose – and believe me, there are a lot of those things out there – but when I saw this on shapeways.com, my first reaction was, “Oh, that’s cool!”
The tube itself is reminiscent of a Möbius strip or a Klein bottle and gives you the impression that if you looked hard enough, you’d find “M.C. Escher wuz here” scrawled somewhere on the surface (yeah, Escher wasn’t much of a speller).
At around 2.5 inches (6.75 cm) square, this 3D printed doodad fits nicely in the palm of your hand. Once you get the ball rolling, there’s a relaxing, repetitious feel to the movement that is akin to Chinese Baoding Balls with a twist (literally, a twist of the wrist…you’ve got to get the ball to travel “up” somehow).
So perhaps my initial assessment of this piece as mere pretty bauble was misguided; it’s actually a very useful non-orientable relaxation device. I guess maker Mu3d93 knew what he was doing.
Want to give it a unique twist (no pun intended, although now that I think about it…)? How about printing the ball in a different color? Why not take it a step further and print the tube in colors that blend from one to another through the visible spectrum? Can you print this in metal (now that would be cool!)? What about giving it a name? Mu3d93 called it a “3D printed rail with a ball inside” – I think it deserves better. So get out your dictionaries and come up with a name for this thing (and look up Möbius, Klein, Escher, and Baoding while you’re at it).
Yes, I’ve thrown around a lot of obscure references in this article boys and girls but don’t let that deter you from investigating this interesting object in more detail. It will be well worth your time. Plans can be downloaded from Shapeways.com. If you don’t want to print it yourself, upload the plans to a website like Sculpteo or Shapeways and let them print it for you.
License: The text of "3D Printed Rail" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.