Talented designer Mike Le Page has returned with a fascinating new piece of work in the Mockingjay. This 3D printed bird represents a deep evolution from a project we saw early last year, which many of you may remember as the Dove (featuring 29 3D printed parts, as well as moving wings).
When we last heard from Le Page last spring, he had started a Patreon campaign — with high hopes, as he told us.
“Unfortunately in the end I discontinued the campaign because I was spending more effort creating the videos for the campaign than I was doing actual design, and aside from a few friends I wasn’t gaining much traction. Also, I took some time away from designing to finish my PhD in Immunogenetics, so that was another half a year,” he updates 3DPrint.com.
The busy Australian designer enjoys having a story behind his work. With the Dove, Le Page was inspired by its symbolism for peace in 2014, especially as fighting ensued in Crimea and Syria. He enjoys artwork that means something to him on more than one level, and with his latest—many will immediately understand the inspiration behind the name.
As a fan of The Hunger Games trilogy, authored by Suzanne Collins, Le Page has chosen to re-create a symbol of intelligence and resistance in his latest, complex 3D print. The artist points out that in the series, Katniss Everdeen was nicknamed ‘the Mockingjay,’ acting as a revolutionary figure in a grim world taken over by an oppressive government.
Again, engineering the realistic flapping motion of the bird was one of the greatest challenges. For Mockingjay, Le Page relied on SLS 3D printing of the 14-piece assembly, via Shapeways. Mockingjay’s design allows for it to emerge from the 3D printer completely assembled, with the wings ready to move as if in flight.
Speaking of his previous 3D Dove model, Le Page told 3DPrint.com that while it was a great project, he has progressed with Mockingjay, which represents a complete redesign from scratch of his work with the previous bird model. In this project he completely changed the inner mechanisms “so it could operate from a crank or hobby motor.”
Le Page also divided the main mechanism from the feathers. In the Mockingjay 3D print, all of the feathers are separate attachments which simply snap into place. If you check out the videos included here, you can see exactly how Le Page puts the bird together. He points out that with this 3D print, numerous color combinations can also be used. One of Le Page’s friends, Richie Robertson, was quite impressed with his latest work and said to the designer:
“These examples in design show how you think… the keenness of observation and the wisdom of engineering principles… combined perfectly in a creative mind with an open design space… without confinements of traditional manufacture. I wonder, what’s next?”
The Mockingjay is not meant just to serve as a symbol either. LePage ultimately hopes to see the lightweight bird, weighing only 37 grams, used as a drone, actually able to fly—whether sending messages and items, or perhaps even confidential files.
“I’ve designed it in such a way that it can be driven by a hobby motor, and together with the increasing availability of 3D printing, it’s something that could potentially be a device that anyone could make by themselves, and use to send information to people locally, essentially making them modern-day carrier pigeons,” Le Page told 3DPrint.com.
“If everyone had a drone that flew by flapping flight, I think it’s possible that instead of using the internet, we might send our large, confidential files by putting memory sticks on a drone. I say this because with the rise of hacking, malware and ransom ware, as well is privacy invasion by governments/social media corporations, it’s not inconceivable that the internet might not be the preferred way to send information locally, especially if it continues the trend away from being open and free.”
That’s definitely an interesting new twist! Just imagine a Mockingjay arriving at your doorstep, delivering an important message. As Le Page points out, in the future everyone will probably have their own 3D printers and should easily be able to fabricate their own flying bird/drones.
“Obviously there’s a lot of work yet to do, on a drone which (disclaimer!) does not fly,” he told us. “But if people want to support me to achieve this aspiration, they can buy a copy of this prototype from my Shapeways shopfront, have a demo of the cool abilities of 3D printing, and hopefully help create a hedge against the rise of authoritarian governments seen in the Hunger Games.”