We always enjoy seeing a great application of 3D printing and found a good one today: 3D printed geodesic dome joints from “hubs”.
The folks behind the project, Chris Jordan and Mike Paisley, used 3D printing to prototype the unique joints used in this design. They’re now seeking funds to create injection molds and go to mass production, meaning this is a project that likely could not have initiated without the availability of 3D printing.
The geodesic domes are simply a network of sticks connected at six-axis universal joints. The design by hubs is very interesting because it enables very easy assembly of the dome due to its snap-tight subcomponents and pivotal movements. You simply screw a piece onto the end of a stick, and then snap that piece into the six-axis hub. The stick can then pivot. They say a dome can be easily made in less than an hour using their kit.
This pivoting permits the dome to be mostly assembled on flat ground, and then when mostly complete, it can be pushed up like a tent when the bottom edge is connected. Thus you can do most of the work on the ground without using a ladder, as you must do with other “fixed” joint approaches.
The prototyping for this design was 3D printed in strong nylon, necessary for the snap-fit feature, by London-based Digits2Widgets, who often assist projects with unusual 3D printing requirements.
At this point, hubs has launched a Kickstarter campaign to move their idea to the next level. They’re hoping to raise £12,000 (USD$19K) for injection molds, which would enable mass production and a significant lowering of per-unit production costs. In other words, they can grow significantly.
For now, however, you can order a beta-test hubs kit for as little as £60 (USD$94), but the price is set to more than double as the project unfolds and additional sales orders are placed.