May 26, 2017 | By David

A resourceful London-based photographer has created an impressive piece of custom camera equipment with the help of 3D printing. Dubbed the Cycloptic Mustard Monster, the make is a fully functional large-format camera that was built by reverse engineering three other expensive high-end cameras, bringing together the best features from each.

Paul Kohlhaussen started the project because of his desire to start shooting on larger negatives than was possible with the standard medium format. His budget didn’t stretch to buying a large format camera, as the ones he was considering were upwards of $5,000. His solution was to study the inner workings of the Mamiya 7, the Hasselblad Xpan, and the Leica M to try to recreate them himself. After making some rough preliminary sketches based on their designs, he settled on 3D printing as a production method, as it was a more cost effective and accessible way to build the camera than CNC machining or injection molding techniques.

With such fine components and as elaborate a process as photography is, the camera needed to be made to a very high level of build quality and with a perfect finish. In the end, Kohlhaussen chose an SLS nylon material for printing the camera parts, as it is easy to assemble and relatively easy to post-process. It is also robust enough to be 3D printed in complex shapes without the use of supports, the removal of which can sometimes affect the quality of the surface.

After 3D printing, an automotive primer was used for post-processing before Kohlhaussen applied the distinctive bright yellow paint job that gave the Cycloptic Mustard Monster its name. The camera that Kohlhaussen eventually produced is officially titled the PK-6142016.

The 3D printed camera can shoot 6 x 14 negatives on 120 mm film and has a modular design, comprising of eight different components. This means that it is compatible with a number of different setups and is easy to pair with different camera gear. Kohlhaussen took medium format features from the Mamiya 7, the panoramic frame size from the Xpan, and the rest from the Leica M. After getting some excellent results with the pictures he has taken, Kohlhaussen hopes to produce more cameras like the Mustard Monster, making high-end photography more widely accessible to people, regardless of their budget.

(panoramic photo taken with Kohlhaussen's finished camera) 

Amazingly, Kohlhaussen was a complete beginner in 3D design when he set out on his ambitious project. He taught himself how to use CAD software and identified what he needed from pre-existing tech, going as far as to reverse engineer one device, the Xpan, that had been commercially discontinued. This is a testament to the potential of 3D printing technology to completely revolutionize manufacturing, inspiring people to get more directly involved and improvise solutions with whatever resources they have available to them.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Scott Calkins wrote at 5/26/2017 7:34:40 PM:

Any word if he will be making the .STL or CAD files available?

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