Ever since science fiction author K. W. Jeter coined the term “steampunk” to describe a subgenre of science fiction, fantasy literature and art which features some aspect of the age of steam-powered machinery incorporated in a futuristic setting, adherents have modified current technology to transform various modern, utilitarian objects into mechanical marvels which harken back to a previous time.
John Davis is a professional horologist who says he “dabbles” in CNC machining and 3D printing, and he brought all his considerable skills and inspiration to bear on this project: a steampunk Printrbot GO.
And what an amazing marriage of design and function the project is.
After studying creative writing at the University of Colorado at Boulder and watchmaking at North Seattle Community College, Davis moved to New York City and, following his passion for horology, began his career there. Davis variously describes himself as “art-damaged,” and a “post-punk,” and he spends his off hours working on watches and evangelizing for and building 3D printed objects and printers.
According to Davis, much of his passion for making and 3D printing came courtesy of his dad.
“My dad made me a maker. He may have described himself as a Do-It-Yourselfer or a Handi-Man or something like that, but the guy is a proto-maker of the highest order,” Davis says. “We listened to records and watched TV on awesome wood and fabric appliances that he built from kits – of course.”
And it was that inspiration from his dad that pushed him in his current direction as a maker.
“While I didn’t realize it until recently, the fact that I’ve taken on watchmaking as a career, taught myself SQL and VBA to make better use of data at work, built a 3D printer from a kit and am now teaching myself CNC machining is all because of the example my dad set for me growing up,” Davis writes. “He always demonstrated the attitude that ‘if someone can do this thing that I want to do, then I can do some research and teach myself how to do this thing also.’ That is an incredibly empowering attitude and I’m deeply grateful for having it modeled for me all my life.”
It’s that kind of can-do-it-myself attitude that led Davis to create a truly wondrous project – his Steampunk Printrbot Go 3D printer.
He’s also created an excellent and very informative blog about his experiences in horology and 3D printing on his website, ei8htohms, and it’s well worth the visit.
It’s details like an extruder gear printed in “Antique Bronze” by Shapeways and a truly amazing throwback knife switch (which actually functions to power the printer on and off) that make his design a wonder of steampunk aesthetics.
You can download the design of some of the parts on Thingiverse, but you’ll have to contact Davis for the rest as he doesn’t plan to include them all there.
“I don’t plan to upload more parts to Thingiverse, because I don’t how thoroughly Makerbot has turned it’s back on the Open Source community,” he says (sic). “For now I’ll leave these designs there so that others may still use and enjoy them. I’ve also migrated all these designs to ShapeDo.”
Check out even more of the designer’s stuff on his Google+ page.
Have you seen any other 3D printed steampunk mods you dig? Let us know on the Steampunk Printrbot GO forum thread on 3DPB.com.