Jul 17, 2016 | By Andre

With NASA’s Juno space probe already firmly in place around Jupiter’s orbit, it won’t be long until we start getting up close and personal visuals from the solar system’s largest planet. It's a step forward into the final frontier to be sure but if you are tired of waiting for the mission to progress, you might find it useful to bide your time by constructing your own 3D printed Solar System.

Although not the first 3D printed solar system available, the newly released DIY instructables version is certainly the first automated one that can be made on your typical filament based desktop 3D printer.

Just as is the case with a lot of Instructables that embrace 3D printing, not all of the elements involved are printable. Brass tubes, bearings, wires, a little motor and a few other electronic accessories are required to make this miniature solar system rotate along its orbit. This being said, the instructions do ask for roughly 250g worth of filament and about 15 hours worth of 3D printing is needed to complete the project so the bulk of all material required will need to be melted through a printer's extruder.

When it comes to the digital files necessary for 3D printing, they are all free to download, were designed in Solidworks and PLA plastic is recommended (although some planets were printed with Bronzefill). Luckily, supports are not needed for any of the files, which is good news for anyone without the patience to pick at the pieces for cleanup once printing completes.

After downloading the files, I found out that I was able to fit all the necessary parts (from Mercury to Saturn at least) on on Replicator Z18 build tray. Of course, since nobody really has that 3D printer, it’ll more realistic to think you can get the job done in two or three full print beds.

You may be curious why I stopped at Saturn. The truth is that the remaining two planets are compatible with the 3D printable solar system (or Orrery as it’s officially called) but since it is 0.1% accurate relative to the real solar system in terms of spacing, the setup would need a lot more space (and stronger rods) to accommodate for Uranus and Neptune (Pluto of course has been long since relegated to the status of dwarf planet).

On top of all of this, other cool features include a LED lit sun and the Instructable goes into a very detailed breakdown of the planetary orbits for all you space geeks out there.

It is worth nothing that the author of the instructable suggests this is not a beginner level project. So be prepared to spend a lot of time piecing it all together once you have all of the parts sourced and 3D printed. Soldering and some knowledge of how electricity works is necessary for the project to complete but luckily a very detailed instruction set with plenty of visual aids are provided for.

In the end, it’s an impressive feat and the first Solar System Orrery that I can think of that can be 3D printed at home. Dragonator, the system’s creator suggests he’s happy with what he’s accomplished for now but might move into designing a much more complex Tellurion (a similar device restricted to only the sun, the earth and the moon). But until he does, you’ll have time to set out and create this incredibly accurate rotating solar system for yourself.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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