Design of the Week: LUNA

By on June 8th, 2015 in Design


This week’s selection is the incredible “LUNA” by Stephanie Lange and Brook Cronin. 

LUNA is a 3D printed globe of our nearby Moon, based on data released by NASA. The globe is printed at a 1:5265 scale, according to the label, with a 15x boost to the elevations. Actually, we suspect it’s really at 1:5265000 scale, otherwise the printed globe would be some 659 meters wide! 

Without the elevation boost, LUNA would be pretty much indistinguishable from a smooth sphere, as gravity has flattened out the surface quite nicely. The exaggerated elevations permit us to see – and touch – the lunar surface in a new way. 

During our inspection of LUNA, we estimate its actual size around 650mm diameter, which tends to confirm our suspicion of the scale. Regardless, this 3D print is about the same size as a very healthy globe you might find for sale in any school supply store. 

LUNA was sponsored by the BigRep Art Department, part of BigRep, who produce the BigRep ONE, a very large scale 3D printer capable of printing items up to 1000 x 1000 x 1000mm, such as this globe. Their Art Department frequently develops dramatic 3D prints to demonstrate the capability of their massive 3D printer. 

Note the surface texture is a bit coarse in this close view. This is because most large 3D prints do not attempt fine layer sizes for detail, as such detail would be lost in the grander scale of larger objects. It would also cause the printing to take far longer to occur. 

One thing you may notice is that LUNA does not immediately appear to look like our familiar Moon. We suspect it’s simply turned over, probably from inquisitive visitors examining it at 3D Printshow London where we first saw LUNA. By looking at a Google Moon view of the surface, it’s likely the view shown here is actually the lunar south pole, an area said to be infused with water ice.

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!