Nov.21, 2014 | By Alec

A 3D printed tool doesn't need to be huge or artistic to be impressive and innovative. After all, small and practical items can just as ground-breaking. And the COMP*PASS, developed by the Japanese Design student Ken Nakagaki, certainly is small, practical and ground-breaking. It's also hardly surprising that the COMP*PASS turned quite a few heads at the 2014 James Dyson Awards, winning the 3rd place in the national (so Japanese) leg, and a top twenty mention in the international competition.

So what is the COMP*PASS exactly? If it kind of reminds you of those drawing compasses used in high school, then you're on the right track. But it's so much more than that. For what Ken Nakagaki has effectively done is using that principle and making it a multi-functional, automatic drawing tool that can be programmed to replicate various detailed shapes and sizes.

To enable this ,the COMP*PASS consists of a two-piece arm system, that slides back and forth in a parallel motion to the paper you place it on, following pair of metal rods. The pencil lead at the end of the arm thus moves in the programmed shape all by itself.

As the video below reveals, this can lead to some pretty strange shapes. Key to this multi-functionality is automatically regulating the radius of the pen. Users have to simply twist the COMP*PASS tool around, and the pre-programmed shape is drawn automatically. And to make programming as simple as possible, the COMP*PASS comes with an app in which you can simply click on the shape you'd like it to draw.

But there's more. For the COMP*PASS also features a copy-paste function, that can be used to replicate 2D and even 3D shapes. The shapes it measures are simply converted into digital files that can be drawn, just like those that are pre-programmed. And obviously, what can be done with a pencil can be done with a little knife. By simply replacing the one with the other, the COMP*PASS is able to cut shapes from the paper as well as drawing them. While thus a regular drawing compass at heart, Nakagaki has adapted it for the modern age.

And to do so, he has obviously relied heavily on CAD design and 3D printing technology. As Nakagaki explained, 'as computers developed, CAD software has enabled us to draw precise figures and duplicate them easily on the display. But these systems lack the intuitiveness of drawing on paper. We needed a drawing tool that included the advantages of both digital and manual.'

He therefore spent about a year designing his prototype in CAD software, gradually adding more forms and functions. 'At the beginning, I adopted the shape of ordinal compass for the device design, but I have found out that it is difficult to rotate with such shape when the pen dynamically moves.'

Throughout the process (and in manufacturing his final prototype), Nakagaki relied on 3D printing to give shape to his thoughts. The final prototype seen in these pictures was printing in ABS filament, and features a few electronic parts and sensors; a servomotor to regulate the pen's movements, some LEDs, a switch and microcontroller, a rotary decoder to measure angles, and obviously a Bluetooth module to control everything.

The prototype device, made of 3D-printed ABS resin, contains a rotary encoder to detect the rotation angle, a servomotor to regulate the radius of a pen, LEDs, a switch, and a micro controller. A Bluetooth module enables wireless communication with other devices.

Nakagaki developed his COMP*PASS as part of a project while studying at the Yasuaki Kakehi Lab, at the Keio University in Japan, and has since begun studying at MIT in Massachusetts. But his clever COMP*PASS is still in his mind, and he's currently looking at ways to commercialize it as a daily stationary product. Various practical applications, in fields as fabrication, education and architecture, are all taken in consideration.

To see the COMP*PASS in action, check out this video:

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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