Mar 10, 2017 | By David
Fans of astronomy and fans of miniature replicas alike can rejoice today, as a 3D printed scale model of our entire solar system has been made available for purchase. The online store Little Planet Factory is selling these amazingly detailed, high-resolution models, which can be used for educational purposes as well as for decoration and entertainment. All 8 main planets (sorry, Pluto) are available to order in a wide range of different sizes, along with dwarf planets (like Pluto), various moons including our own, and of course the Sun.
The store is run by London-based 3D printing enthusiast George Ioannidis. Growing up watching Cosmos and reading Douglas Adams, he’d always been fascinated by astronomy. After trying and failing to find an acceptable scale model of Mars to purchase one day, he decided that he ought to use his 3D technology capabilities to make his own. He had such great success with 3D printing the red planet that he decided to try making some of the others, and it was only a matter of time before he was ready to share his passion with the online marketplace.
The advantages of using 3D printing over traditional manufacturing techniques to produce these models are huge. According to Ioannidis, making a replica of a celestial body using a cast or mould usually means that there is a seam at the equator, greatly detracting from the accuracy of the model. This is not the case with 3D printing, where the models are produced layer-by-layer, from the bottom up. Having a virtual 3D design for the object means that scaling is incredibly straightforward, and custom sizes can be produced with ease. 3D printing technology also allows for a very high level of resolution, full color details, and remarkably precise geometry. Once the 3D printing is complete, each model receives a manual inspection to make sure everything is exactly as it should be, and Ioannidis applies a layer of protective coating by hand.
Visitors to his website will be presented with a wide range of different options to choose from, based on how exactly they want their solar system replicated for them. The largest size for a globe currently available is 7.8 inches in diameter (200mm), and the smallest is 0.4 inches (10mm). The entire set is available to purchase together, accurately scaled, or individual globes can be bought separately.
Those with better knowledge of astronomy but less 3D printing know-how can even commission Ioannidis to make a new globe for them based on information they provide. Or if you just want a particular celestial body that you know very little about to be recreated in miniature, he’s happy to do the research himself. Orders take between 15-30 days to complete.
If you’re interested to see what wonders are possible with 3D printing technology and the right amount of dedication, or on the other hand if you want to be reminded just how insignificant our planet is on an astronomical scale, these models are definitely worth checking out.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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