Printed Tensegrity Toy

I’ve been experimenting with printed flexures, and wanted to make a simple tensegrity toy to explore the concept. This design (which you can download on Thingiverse) features both printed tension and compression elements that all build together into a slightly bouncy tensegrity sculpture.

I also optimized the design to allow everything to print at once on my Ultimaker 2+ buildplate. The sculpture assembles with a handful of self-threading torx screws to make it easy for anyone to replicate.

Make Your Own Mechanicat

 

The final finished kitty

I just uploaded this little mechanical kitty to Thingiverse, and I think you should make a version for yourself. After a few trials with some cheap 1/4″ plywood, I ended up splurging on pressboard made specifically for laser cutting. The first cat I cut from the cheap ply ended up burning so much it was hard to get something functional out at the end. I blame the adhesive used to laminate the sheets. I think I might try and source some thin ply made with a natural wood glue. In the meantime, Laserbits makes some excellent laser specific stuff.

I’d like to thank Jordan Bunker for offering excellent advice on laser calibration and power. He’s quite a mighty fabricator.