3D Printed ‘Little Red Dot’ Zoetrope Brings 19th Century Fun to 2015 MakerFaire Singapore

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We’ve already demonstrated that the Victorians knew how to have a good time. And that the fun doesn’t have to remain in the 19th century, but they have been improved upon. The stereoscopic viewer, for example, that was once created from wood is now a collapsible 3D printed device that fits into an Altoids tin.

The rest of the Victorian day wasn’t all whalebone corsets and repressed sexuality either. The zoetrope, a rotating cylinder with images on the inside gave the illusion of movement when viewed through a slit. We’ve covered these before as they are too enjoyable to resist.

11028050_661713267261499_8304628442359985748_oIt’s hard to imagine the excitement that might have garnered now that we are jaded by motion pictures and virtual reality, but for a glimpse of that world, check out the video of the SG50 Little Red Dot that was displayed at the 2015 MakerFaire in Singapore. Prepare to be intrigued…and also a little freaked out.

It’s cool, plain and simple. Right?

11713832_661726690593490_8743828824760927073_oWell, not so simple really. The animation required approximately 140 3D printed pieces, excluding those on the sides, and a great deal of planning and preparation. In addition, it took nearly 400 hours of print time to complete. YK Toh, spokesperson for the zoetrope’s creator Volunex Solutions Group, described the process of creating the delightful device:

“We modeled the design by using a web based 3D object software and 3D scanner in order to design the theme. Then, we started from scratch on a piece of paperweight concentric circle and tagged models from the center dot outwards. Through interactions and storyboard brainstorming we decided on the final model to use on each concentric circle. Once the decisions were made regarding the individual figurine, we started to design and print them and then glue them to the real plate.”

11713754_661713663928126_6688158486880972693_oWhen stopped, it is possible to see the gradations in the figurines that cause them to appear to be moving as the plate spins at a particular speed. The effect is uncanny, heightened by the carnivalesque sound of the frenetic music that accompanies the video. It is hard to take your eyes off of it and your brain will do nearly anything to convince you that the 3D printed figures are actually bending and the dolphins are leaping their way around the platform.

“Singapore is an island surrounded by the sea. What better than to have a sea theme and use dolphins, something everybody likes. The corals evolved from the Fibonacci pattern concept. Illustrating Singapore, our little red dot at the center as being the source of colorful, vibrant, and fun life,” said Toh.

11722613_661713357261490_5417902569693719171_oFor printing the Little Red Dot, they turned to the celestially inspired Mars Plus, Mars, Venus, Lunar, and i3 Mini 3D printers all designed and manufactured by Volunex in Singapore. When not creating zoetropes for MakerFaires, Volunex has a dedicated team with multi-disciplinary engineering experts in areas of robotics, mechatronics, instrumentation, process control and computer software.

Watching the whirling dance it’s possible for just a moment to recapture some of the wide-eyed wonder of childhood, even if the voice in the back of your head keeps trying to nag you into recognizing that there is a trick. This is one of those tricks that doesn’t become less amazing just because you know how it’s done.

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