Back in August we covered an initiative to get 3D printed bird nests within cities across the globe. Since then the initiative has really taken off, and the nests themselves continue to evolve.
Brightly colored, egg-shaped, 3D printed bird nests are popping up around the globe. Designed to adhere to the smooth, exterior surfaces of urban structures from apartment buildings to office buildings, these 8” tall objects are the result of an ambitious urban revival program. At the heart of the program is a concern for dwindling bird populations in urban areas, no doubt due to a range of causes from air pollution to the lack of available physical supports and material for nests. A group of architects, graphic artists, and designers that calls itself Printed Nest created their company and designed the nests. Their goal is to see the nests printed and installed around the world.
Posted as a project on Thingiverse, the nests are beautifully designed. One is shaped like an egg while another one looks very much like a rotund pot with a small opening at the top. The team has refined a series of prototypes to arrive at what they’ve called “Bird Feeder 4.0” on Thingiverse (although it isn’t clear why it’s called a “feeder” and not simply a “nest” as there doesn’t seem to be a container for food in the small structure). That said, these sleek-looking, 3D printed bird shelters or nests or houses convey a sense of contemporaneity that a more traditional bird house lacks.
Earlier prototypes featured smooth, non-perforated surfaces, while the 4.0 version is made with mesh-like 3D printed surfaces that allowed the designers to reduce the weight of the small structures. My guess is that earlier versions, which are ideally placed on windows so people inside can see into the bird nests, were possibly too heavy to adhere firmly and semi-permanently to windows. It seems that a secondary support consisting of wire was also added to the newer, 4.0 versions of the bird nests.
One of the design components that I really love is an antler-like apparatus that is attached to the lower front portion of the nest so that birds may perch outside of the structure in addition to seeking shelter within. I imagine resourceful urban birds augmenting the design by bringing in materials like twigs and leaves and stray string or yarn to create a soft, inner nest within the brightly colored, 3D printed egg- and basket-shaped nests. That said, if your aesthetic leans more toward subdued and woodsy, one of the 4.0 versions of the nest is printed in light brown that looks much like twine, including a soft, prickly texture.
Thanks to the efforts of Printed Nest, which is based in the city of Brno in the Czech Republic, 50 bird nests have been installed in 34 cities around the world. Most have been printed in their home cities — from Prague to Eindhoven, Seattle to Alajuelita, and New York to Ottawa — thanks to open source file sharing or what Printed Nest calls “open cloud design.” On their website, Printed Nest provides interested parties with the option of downloading the STL files and then 3D printing them based on individual preferences or ordering the nests with customized specs via an online 3D printing service such as Shapeways, Sculpteo, or iMaterialise. A third option is to purchase a bird nest from the Printed Nest website. They range in price from 38€ ($45) to 55€ ($65).
When you download the STL files and 3D print your bird nest, you can also go to the Printed Nest site and register so that your 3D printed urban bird shelter can be pinned on the world map. We wonder how birds are responding to these delightful, sleek, uber-modern shelters and hope that, as the nests proliferate around the world — they’re now in 10 countries including Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Canada, the United States, and Slovakia — so will images of birds setting up house within these brightly colored, 3D printed walls!
Would a nest liven up your wall? Let us know what you think about Printed Nest’s initiative over at the 3D Printed Urban Bird Nests forum thread at 3DPB.com.