This week’s selection is the 3D Printed Rainbow Road by BCN3D.
Many readers may recall their days long ago (or maybe not so long ago) playing the highly popular Super Mario Bros video games, including Mario Kart. In every Mario Kart game you must drive a car around a brilliantly colored “Rainbow Road” that pushed your monitor’s color palette to the edge of the envelope.
The Rainbow Road has become a very fond memory for many, and now shows up occasionally in various forms. One that I’ve used is Tesla’s “Rainbow Road” mode where the dashboard display turns into the rainbow for a time.
Now that same Rainbow Road has become a physical reality with BCN3D’s latest project. They literally 3D printed an entire Rainbow Road!
While the visual Rainbow Road is simply made of extraordinarily bright and colorful pixels, the BCN3D Rainbow Road is made from 3D printer filament.
They were inspired by the latest offering from Nintendo, “Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit”. It’s an actual Mario Kart vehicle in miniature that you can control remotely and drive around your living room. A console shows you a dash cam view from the Kart, but the view is overlaid with augmented reality elements to implement the actual game.
Basically, you can drive around a physical vehicle just as if you were in the game.
Except there’s no Rainbow Road feature.
The folks at BCN3D painstakingly 3D printed parts for a 5.4 x 5 m track from PLA on their equipment. In all, some 4,434 PLA pieces were produced. These interlocking squares were assembled into a circuit with eight turns.
Once assembled, you can then drive your Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit vehicle around the Rainbow Road and the console view is eerily the same as in the actual video game, except it’s real.
3D printing that many parts is a task, even though the part is of a simple design. BCN3D says they optimized the process by using a fat 0.6mm nozzle that allowed the 3 gram parts to be produced in only nine minutes each. My calculations indicate that represents about 14kg of material.
They used their Sigma R19 3D print farm to produce the pieces, and managed to manufacture around 1,200 parts each day on ten 3D printers. Apparently this required unloading and restarting the printers 185 times during four days of production.
BCN3D says their latest 3D printer, the Sigma D25, could produce all of the parts on its own in only three short days, with about half the required human intervention. This shows the importance of machine capability when faced with very large projects.
Do you feel left out? Don’t, because BCN3D has placed all of the Rainbow Road parts on Thingiverse for you to download and 3D print yourself.
But be prepared for a lot of work unless you have a belt 3D printer.