3D Printed String of Pearls

The String of Pearls series by Melbourne based designer Flow Consulting, utilizes an integral “ball and socket” structure that represents both construction and aesthetic in a holistic manner.

Flow Consulting has also set up a Melbourne Fabbers Google Group, so any Melbourne based Shapeways users who want to connect and communicate can join up.

Flow Design is the design and manufacture side of Flow Consulting, which develops and commercializes products for clients and partners. Flow Consulting is able to assist with all stages of new product commercialization, including developing a strategic approach to intellectual property protection, product marketing and negotiating agreements.

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  1. T. Shawn Johnson

    It’s beautiful. Many of us have tried such a socket using shapeways and failed with the SLS materials because of the enclosure. I wonder how they succeeded?


  2. Andrew Short

    That is really impressive stuff. I’m experimenting with ball-and-socket joints myself, but I don’t think I’d be able to do them as integrated prints due to the scale I’m working at, and because I think the clearances I’d need to allow to prevent fusing would make them too loose for my purposes.

    @ Whystler: I’m not quite sure what you mean. Why have the previous attempts failed?

  3. T. Shawn Johnson

    Hey Andrew,

    Previous attempts of this sort, with such an enclosure, would fuse the parts together even at the recommended clearance. Shapeways staff advised that we make the enclosing structure more open. But this was a long while ago. In the forums somewhere, there should be a post I made about ball joints with pictures of how mine fused.

    I haven’t tried since… maybe it’s better now?


  4. Scott Phillips

    Hey, thanks people!

    Fusing is of course the big risk with these sort of objects. I found a tutorial on mechanical parts (http://www.shapeways.com/tutorials/designing_mechanical_parts_for_3d_printing) that suggested 0.6mm was a good rule of thumb for clearances, so I made sure that each critical clearance was exactly that, and I’ve never had a problem with fusing.

    Well … okay. I did have one, but it was my fault. I created a double length version of this same piece, and instead of an easy circular array I had to loop it around in a wonkish way to get it to fit into the build volume of the printer. I created a 3D path to array the pieces around (manually) and almost every aspect of doing so was a PITA. The result though was worthwhile: http://www.shapeways.com/model/118139/string_of_pearls___extra_long.html

    What I stuffed up was the clearance between the pieces that crossed over close to each other, but all that happened was that there was a small bit of distortion on those pieces. Nothing fused.

    I’ve designed other full chains as well, and I’ve added some more photos to my site of those today, so feel free to check those out too. Same clearances apply.

    Flow Consulting

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