Feb 5, 2016 | By Kira

3D printing is often functional or artistic, elegant or complex—but rarely is it all of the above, and with an engrained inspirational message to boot. Musician, scientist, writer and 3D designer Mike Le Page, however, has managed to pull it off with his stunning 3D printed dove, a work of mechanical art that features 29 moving parts, 32 intricately rendered feathers, and realistic movements that truly bring this 3D printed messenger of peace to life.

As a 3D printing designer and self-proclaimed space enthusiast, Le Page’s primary goal is to use his 3D printing experience and the scientific method to achieve meaningful improvements in manned spaceflights and space-based aquaponics systems. He has also designed several unique 3D printed game pieces, including a 3D printed card piece set, a 3D printed cylinder puzzle, and a DNA-inspired 3D printed chess set with corresponding pieces. However for this project, Le Page decided to design something that, on the one hand, would demonstrate the full capabilities of SLS 3D printing, and on the other, deliver an inspirational and optimistic message of peace, hope and joy.

The result, after two years of development, is an entirely 3D printed mechanical bird made solely of complex shapes and interlocking parts—29 parts, to be exact, which are all 3D printed in a single run and require no assembly whatsoever. Two moving parts in each inner wing replicate the “seemingly simple” motion of a bird flapping its wings—just use four fingers to ‘puppeteer’ the bird’s movements. Le Page also rendered 32 individual feathers that despite being ‘hollow,’ give it a more natural than purely robotic look.

Beyond being an incredibly complex and impressive work of 3D printed mechanical art, Le Page’s 3D printed dove is also a strong and positive symbol. White doves have traditionally been used by various religious bodies and even military and pacifist groups has symbols of love, and peace, and given the white 3D printing material offered by Shapeways, Le Page saw an immediate connection between the widely recognized symbol and his intended message.

“Printing the model in white plastic made ‘Dove’ an obvious name, but I do also like much of the symbolism involved,” he said. “I do think the world needs more peace, more hope, and more joy. When I hear stories about these goals being achieved through creative use of technology, that inspires me and keeps me optimistic. I hope that in some way, this will also help inspire more people to aim high in pursuit of those goals.”

Similarly, we covered French Artist Gilles Azarro’s 3D printed sound wave pendant, which was also designed to spread the uplifting message that ‘Love is the Answer’ in the wake of the 2015 Paris Attacks.

The 3D printed mechanical dove is currently available on Le Page’s Shapeways shop for $90, and is 3D printed in a single run using strong and flexible white nylon plastic. Aside from making a great gift or (positive) conversation starter, Le Page believes the 3D printed dove could also have value as an educational tool—teaching both the mechanics of 3D printing and the values of peace, hope, love and freedom in a world that is constantly being torn apart by war, crime and injustice.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Mike Le Page wrote at 2/11/2016 6:42:54 PM:

You've a way with words Kira, thanks for making them kind :) I'd only add that another reason I did it is that I think there are some people who are still under the impression that 3d printing is only good for trinkets, and to them I'm saying "Hey guys! *This* is possible now. Are you getting it yet? This technology is going to change the world as much or more so than the Internet, and the only limit is our collective imagination".

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