The Beautiful Math of 3D Printed Mobiles

Beautiful, delicate, finely balanced mobiles 3D printed to dance on the breeze.

3D Printing mobile on Shapeways

These 3D printed mobiles are the result of a collaboration between Marco Mahler and Henry Segerman, available 3D printed on demand through their Shapeways Mobiles Shop

3D Printed mobile on Shapeways



We met via Twitter in early February 2013 when Henry was looking for suggestions for a motor for one of his 3D printed kinetic sculptures. A conversation ensued about the possibilities for making 3D printed mobiles. After about 300 emails, several conversations over Skype, hundreds of lines of code, and a number of test prints and trial-and-error experiments, the result is the collection of mobiles that is now available through our shop at Shapeways. After an extensive Google search, it appears that these are the first fully 3D printed mobiles in the world.

Shapewasy 3D printing amazing mathematical mobiles

These mobiles come out of the 3D-printer completely assembled as shown. The balance points for these mobiles were calculated to 1/1000th of a millimeter (1/25360th of an inch). The models for some of these mobiles were drawn up “by hand”, others were created utilizing custom mathematical scripts. Some of the mobiles, like Mobile 4.2, are designed with a very small increase or decrease in thickness from one part to the next, something that is not possible to do with conventional handmade mobiles. Utilizing scripts also allows for designs that would be very time consuming to make by hand, such as the Quaternary Tree Level 6 (pictured above), which has 1365 pieces.

3D Printed Math Mobiles

9 comments

  1. Stijn / Virtox

    Very nicely done gentlemen!

  2. wahtah

    Great objects! I wish you’d let them speak for themselves though instead of “utilizing” all that bs…

    1. Glenn

      So, you’d rather they just post the pictures and then get dozens of people posting questions asking “How did you get them to balance?” or this or that…!

    2. wahtah

      First off, I’m sorry for being a bit grumpy… I have no problem with there being a text, it’s just the style and content which grates… I know, it’s not aimed at the likes of me, it’s there to be copied by re-bloggers who don’t know much about 3d printing anyway and will be impressed by the bold claims… whoops, here I go again, time to take my happy pills…

    3. Anonymous

      Woah dude, just look at the pretty pictures.

    4. wahtah

      hmmmmm, pretty pictures!!! :-)

    5. Anonymous

      While the images do speak volumes by themselfes, there are those such as myself that appreciate the commentary. Sharing some of the technical details may seem superfluous to some, but to others, especially other designers and others who enjoy contemplating the technical complexities, it has value in that it fosters innovation, providing mental stimulus that lead to new ideas.

Comments are closed.