Mar. 27, 2015 | By Simon

Of all of the various 3D printed projects we’ve seen over the past few years, many that have a “fresh off the line”-appearance that looks more in-line with traditional manufacturing processes such as injection molding are among the best-executed both from a design standpoint as well as overall intention.  A recent example of a well-executed project that was brought to life thanks to 3D printing is the SpotiBear.  

The SpotiBear is a Spotify-powered bear that plays children’s music, lullabies and stories and leverages the low-cost power of a Raspberry Pi to operate it.

Created by Reddit user Andreas Lindahl, the SpotiBear project is described by him as “not a ‘real’ project or a product (but) just a fun hack project because I wanted to get better at 3D modeling and learn how the 3D printer we have in the office works.”

While Lindahl did all of the design work, his co-worker Pär Johansson did all of the hardware and coding.  The final toy design is controlled by a Raspbery Pi B+ that runs Spotify through spop while the buttons are controlled with a Python script.    

To create the design, Lindahl started with some basic ideation sketches before moving them into Adobe Illustrator to iron them out.  Once a final design direction was determined, the Illustrator linework was brought into Strata 3D to build them out as 3D modeled parts.  At this stage, some slight modifications were made to the existing design to ensure that all of the hardware components would fit together once they were printed.  

Using a MakerBot Replicator 2, the final 3D models were printed out and tested using a series of joint prototypes.  It was determined at this stage that rather than using the intended ball joints, threaded inserts would be used to attach each of the pieces together.  

Once it was determined that the housing design would fit all of the necessary internal components, the Raspberry Pi, wires and speaker were added.  In total, the hardware setup consisted of a Raspberry pi B+, a speaker from the piHut, a Powerboost 500 charger and a lithium ion polymer battery (- 3.7v 2500mAh).

After some trial and error with printing the limbs, Lindahl was able to finally print a solution that worked consisting of the final sub-assembly broken up into six separate parts.  Once it was determined that all of the 3D printed parts would be able to be assembled as tight as possible, it was then time for the finishing process.  

To finish the 3D printed parts and give them a more professional finished product appearance, a layer of Tamiya-brand primer was added to reveal any imperfections.  At this stage, Lindahl then sanded everything down and repeated the primer and sanding process until the surfaces were completely smooth.  

Once the surfaces were deemed smooth enough to be painted, Tamiya spray paint was used to color the larger body pieces white and the buttons various primary colors.  At this stage, Lindahl also added symbols to the buttons in order to communicate their functions.    

“I bought letter-sized labels and printed out the symbols to use as stencils. I had to redo this because the glue on the labels ripped of the white paint and exposed the primer when I peeled it off. For round 2, I put the sticker on my desk a couple of times first, to get some of the stickiness off.”

After the pieces were painted, all that was needed was a final assembly of the parts.  Since their assembly had already been tested prior to priming and painting, this step was met with relative ease.  

As for what’s next for SpotiBear, Lindahl is working to create an iPhone app that lets the user set up their own network (similar to Chromecast) and be able to use their Spotify account through SpotiBear directly through their phone.

Whether Lindahl gets the app made or not, this 3D printed Spotify-powered bear is one of the most polished 3D printing projects we’ve seen in awhile.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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