Design of the Week: Solar System Memento
This week’s selection is the beautiful 3D printed Solar System Memento by Spacetime Coordinates.
This is a highly personalized, yet simple 3D printed memento depicting our own solar system, with eight (or nine if you select the “Pluto” option) planets present. The disc shows - but not quite to actual scaled distances - the planets in their orbits, including a representation of each orbit’s eccentricity.
But when I say highly personalized, what does that mean, exactly?
Spacetime Coordinates requires you to specify a date when you order one of these mementos. Their software, apparently based on a NASA solar system simulator, will calculate the precise position of the planets on that date and thus generate the corresponding 3D model.
3D printing of the 3D model is outsourced by Spacetime Coordinates to one of the usual suspects, Shapeways or i.materialise. Fortunately these services offer 3D printing in a wide variety of durable and memorable materials, and thus Spacetime Coordinates can offer mementos in them.
Available materials currently include colored acrylics, bamboo, walnut, brass, bronze, steel, titanium, silver, gold, rhodium and platinum. Pricing is obviously dependent on the material selected, and Spacetime Coordinates lists prices ranging from US$25 up to US$200 for mementos with plated precious metals. For solid precious metal mementos, you could be paying up to US$3500.
I should point out that the wood and acrylic items are actually not 3D printed like the others; they are laser cut and engraved. The precious metal mementos are first 3D printed as a positive mold, and then the lost-wax process is used to pour the precious metal into a negative mold.
What is most interesting to me about this project is its simplicity. At first glance these (mostly) 3D printed mementos appear quite geometrically simple: they are little different from the coins in your pocket.
Then you notice the planetary configuration and realize “this is (or could be) unique”. These mementos might not all be the same, as different configurations could be portrayed.
But finally you realize something far more powerful: the solar system configuration represents a specific date, one that means something. It could be a birthdate, a wedding date, a date of a death, an anniversary. Dates are important to people.
It means something To You. Not necessarily to anyone else, but to you alone.
That is the ultimate form of personalization: a memento that holds powerful meaning for an individual.
Personalization in 3D printing does not always mean that the 3D printed item must “physically fit” an intended subject. It could also be a simple engraving that evokes meaning.