Tag Archives: 3D models

Orbis is a steampunk-inspired kinetic sculpture

Maker meshes wood and electronics to create an innovative piece of artwork.

Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen a number of impressive installations that fused both traditional art and modern-day technology in pretty slick ways. Added to that growing list is Orbis, the brainchild of Long Island-based Maker Guido Bonelli, who many of you may recall from last year’s Kickstarter campaign for his Arduino debugging tool, Dr.Duino.


The concept for the wooden kinetic and lighting sculpture all began after Bonelli was commissioned by a client to find some truly unique artwork that would serve as the focal piece of their home. Upon conducting a search for a dynamic piece to adorn his own walls, the Maker realized that there wasn’t anything available today that truly met either his or his client’s needs. And so the idea of Orbis was conceived, coalescing a classic wooden look with electronics in a simple yet extremely imaginative manner.

The installation, which mounts to the wall like any other form of art, will surely capture the attention of anyone in the room as it spins to life and emits a series of bright, color-chaning lights. In addition, the client requested a separate control box that would allow visitors to interact with the kinetic sculpture themselves. The steampunk-like installation is powered through some custom firmware and a pair of independent Arduino Mega 2560 boards (ATmega2560) — one lies underneath Orbis itself, the other housed in the control box that communicates via a pair of Xbee modules. The device is also equipped with several potentiometers, which let a user do things like control its LEDs and the speed of the motor.


In order to create the unique kinetic sculpture and control box, custom 3D models were meticulously developed and tested. Once the client approved of the initial design, the relevant files were emailed to a laser wood cutting service, with each piece subsequently hand stained and carefully assembled.

Orbis is capable of displaying nearly 16 million various colors, and features six distinct control modes of operation which are selected via a rotary phone dial. Two of the operation modes enable the user to take direct control over the installation.

Fascinated? You’ll not only want to watch it in action below, but may want to head over to its official page here.


Creating an affordable and innovative landscape with 3D printing

Years ago, home 3D printing was seen as just a passing technological fad. Though hobbyist printers were never thought of as being able to create high-end products, earlier this year, new waves of affordable and accessible 3D printers have opened the doors for this fad to become a mainstay in tech culture.


According to ZDNet, Adobe’s inclusion of 3D printing models into the Photoshop CC has enabled an unprecedented creative mentality to be adopted by the Maker community. Adrian Mars details that before Adobe’s inclusion of the new platform into Photoshop, many ‘slicers’ or programs that converted 3D models into printer instructions were community created and inherently basic. With Adobe’s large organizational support of the medium, it was obvious that 3D printing was no longer a passing fad .

“With costs decreasing and usability improving, together with the ability to print at ever finer resolutions in a fast-growing range of materials, affordable 3D printers may well repeat the 1980s success of the home computer as they too begin to usurp the older and much more costly ‘professional’ competition,” Mars notes. He details two separate printers, the Matme3D and the Peachy, both of which will be available for under $300 and able to provide high quality products to the home enthusiast.

With accessibility and affordability trending positively, Mars turns to the apparent lack of 3D design education. “There are other barriers besides cost. Designing in 3D is far from intuitive, and education is the obvious route to massive takeup in the next generation — something that needs to be fixed,”  Mars explains. As he points out, it will be essential for the younger generation to adopt 3D design as a requisite tech skill; fortunately, there are a multitude of software options available to assist on this front.

The wildly-popular computer game Minecraft involves heavy elements of 3D design and could be covertly educating the youth about the intricacies of 3D design. Other free platforms such as Blender 3D and Sketchup Make are also allowing for widespread skill building amongst the young Maker crowd.

It is worthy to note that the initial sentiment that home printers were unable of creating quality products is retreating due to the innovation of new 3D printing materials. Mars talks of high quality materials like Taulman’s Nylon and even food-grade polypropylene that raise the caliber of home projects.


In all, it is clear that 3D printing is becoming a mainstay in the technology community. The innumerable creative possibilities that the medium provides are something that simply cannot be ignored. As the technology develops and prices continue to drop, accessibility will inevitably rise. This could allow for a golden age of innovation all fueled by 3D printing.

For more articles about the ever-evolving 3D printing trend, check out our Bits & Pieces archives here.