For backpackers and serious campers, the quest to find the perfect, portable light source without adding bulk to your gear is one that is difficult to satisfy. Any number of designers have tried their hand at addressing this issue and the options available range from inflatable solar lanterns to clipping strings of lights to a variety of holders designed to accommodate flashlights.
Backpacker, product designer, and newly minted 3D print enthusiast Alexey Zhukov wasn’t satisfied with any of the available options, though–so he decided to create his own.
He began by analyzing the existing lights in order to understand which parts especially required redesign and soon came to the conclusion that the most important area to address was the creation of the lamp’s shade. He spent several weeks researching collapsible shades as he instinctively felt that this was where the answer lay. At this point he was stumped, but he couldn’t get the problem out of his mind.
Finally, he had a flash of inspiration, brought about by a gift that he had prepared for his girlfriend. On her birthday, he had decided to deliver a bundle of balloons to her and as soon as he had blown one up, he realized that this was exactly the type of translucent, collapsible shade that he had been in search of.
In an interview with 3DPrint.com, Zhukov described the process of developing the idea:
“It was like a bolt from the blue! I knew a balloon would be a great shade for my lamp. The next steps were ideation and prototype development. I had a few prototypes with different functional principles but in the end I decided to work with CO2. I used Rhinoceros to create the 3D model and then I was ready to print. This was my first experience with 3D printing but Google and Netfabb provided me with all the support I needed to make it work.”
First, he printed a prototype using an UP 3D Printer Plus 2 and after working out the kinks, used a MakerBot Replicator to print his final version. Once he printed the body, he fitted it with adapted valves, LED lights, and a system board; next he supplied his own balloon, attached a small canister of CO2, and he was ready to go.
“The principle is simple,” Zhukov told us. “The lamp [will] give light in relation to how much you inflate the balloon. You can also use different balloons if you want different colors of light. It’s great for camping or just for a romantic evening picnic.”
It’s light, it’s bright, and it’s fun. So just remember, if you find yourself facing a problem that is eluding a solution, try giving someone a present–it just might provide the inspiration you need.
Have you had your own eureka moment from an unexpected quadrant? Or are these types of lights the sort of thing you’d find useful in your own outdoor trekking? Let us know what you think of this clever creation in the 3D Printed Portable Balloon Lamp forum thread over at 3DPB.com. Check out more photos in the gallery below.