Aug 27, 2017 | By David

You’d be forgiven for thinking that there are now enough fidget spinners in circulation, 3D printed or otherwise, to keep everyone’s fingers busy forever, and no more hand-occupying toys are needed. You would, however, be ignoring the latest Adafruit creation, uploaded by contributor Dano Wall. His Humble Velocipede is a neat little 3D printed walking toy, with an assortment of animal-like legs that seem to scuttle along your desktop as you push its body. The project was based on the work of Dutch designer Theo Janssen, specifically his famous ‘Strandbeest’ creations.

Janssen’s Strandbeest (beach beast) machines are artificial creatures made of PVC piping, wood and fabric airfoils, often fabricated using 3D printing technology, and they are designed to be capable of walking along beaches with the help of wind power. They can store air pressure within their mechanism so they are able to walk even when there is no wind, and some of the more recent models make use of evolutionary computation techniques that enable them to intelligently react to their environment. The 3D printed Humble Velocipede isn’t quite so technologically advanced but its walking motion is definitely an impressive thing to behold, as it moves its five sets of legs along in a very similar way to the Strandbeest, uncoordinated but fluid.

The STL files for this 3D printing project, which is a continuation of a successful 2012 Kickstarter campaign, have been made available to download for free on Thingiverse. The parts have mostly been named after real anatomical parts for ease of reference and organization. For this demonstration version, the temperature was set to 220 degrees Celsius, and print speed was 0.8mm per second. Most of the ‘ligament’ structures took between 30 minutes and an hour to print, with a ‘breastplate’ taking 2 hours, and the various ‘thighs’ and ‘shins’ taking 9 hours altogether. There were 86 3D printed parts, out of a total 120 parts.

After 3D printing is complete, there is a rather complicated assembly process to deal with. The various plates need to be slotted on to the central crankshaft structure, and then the 10 thigh/shin parts can be fitted together to form the walking mechanism. Making sure the holes are the correct size and maybe using a little oil for lubrication will ensure that the Humble Velocipede will fit together and walk as it is supposed to.

Once 3D printing and assembly of the Humble Velocipede are handled correctly and you’ve got to grips with the way it moves, you’ll find that the design is very malleable. Various reinterpretations, improvements and upgrades are demonstrated alongside the original on the Adafruit website. There is a guide on the Instructables site showing how to build a much larger version of the Humble Velocipede, which has a fully 3D printed crankshaft and is battery-powered. There is also a virtual simulation of the walking mechanism available to play with if you don’t have the time or resources to get a real-life version 3D printed.

Janssen has been quoted as saying that ‘"The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds." Watching the Humble Velocipede move along a surface with its awkward animalistic grace, enabled by an intricately designed mechanism, we’d be inclined to agree with him. Hopefully we will continue to see these walls break down in future, with the help of 3D printing technology.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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