Feb 27, 2016 | By Benedict

Instructables user [mtairymd] has designed a 3D printable Trammel of Archimedes, an ancient mechanism used for tracing out an ellipse. According to its creator, the 3D printed trammel can be built for around $22.

Here’s a quick mental puzzle for those who skipped math class at school: If you didn’t have any oval-shaped objects to trace around, how would you go about drawing an ellipse on paper? A pair of compasses won’t work for anything besides circles and arcs, and you’d need superhuman skill to draw one freehand, so what would you do? Thanks to an ancient drawing instrument, a perfect ellipse can in fact be drawn, using a simple but effective mechanical device.

The Trammel of Archimedes, believed to have been used by the Neoplatonic philosopher Proclus (and perhaps even Archimedes himself), is an ingenious device consisting of two shuttles confined to two perpendicular channels, with a rod attached to the shuttles by pivots. As the shuttles move back and forth through their respective channels, the end of the rod moves in an elliptical path. A pencil can be affixed to this end, which will trace out an ellipse on paper underneath. The size and eccentricity (length) or the ellipse can be changed by adjusting the length of each channel.

Instructables user [mtairymd], real name John, has brought his passion for such measuring instruments into the world of 3D printing by publishing this 3D printable Trammel of Archimedes Instructables guide. The 3D printable model is John’s second, more complex attempt at a trammel, replacing the previous version released a week prior.

To build John’s impressive 3D printed trammel, makers need a 3D printer, screw driver, and wood file or sandpaper. The only materials required are filament and Pan Head #6 (3/4”) screws. The entire 3D print consists of four STL files, one each for the base, handle, knob, and slide. John cut pockets out of the base hexagon to reduce printing mass and total cost, and added rounds to the center edges to help keep the slides or shuttles on track. Each slide matches the channel or groove with a 1/32” clearance.

John’s 3D printed trammel possesses a striking appearance, with its parts 3D printed in three bold colors. The maker would, however, love to see his design recreated in wood for a more historically faithful replica of the ancient instrument. In our opinion, we love the combination of modern 3D printing technology with old mathematical ingenuity—and we’re not just paying ellipse service here. The two technologies may be millennia apart, but both represent marvels of the human intellect. So what are you waiting for? That ellipse won’t draw itself. Get printing!



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Bob Loblaw wrote at 2/29/2016 6:31:25 AM:

$22 ? If printing with the world's most expensive filament, perhaps.

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