3D Printing

3D printed teaching aids

I bought a Creality Ender 3D printer in 2020 (going at about $270 at Lazada now), at the height of the pandemic and have been using it to print physics-related teaching aids for a while, including balloon hovercrafts, catapults, a Pythagorean cup, tippy top and a vertical axis wind turbine. In addition to complete demonstration sets, it is also handy for printing parts to fix old demonstration sets such as a base for a standing cylinder with spouts at different heights.

The Creality Ender 3 3D printer

This is a video compiled with the objects that I printed in recent months. The lime green filament that I used were purchased at $16.40 for 1 kg from Shopee. Therefore, each of the prints shown in the picture cost between forty cents to four dollars’ worth of filament.

The first is a coin funnel that can be used to demonstrate how centripetal force keeps objects moving in circles. As the energy of the coins decreases due to friction, the radius of the circle gets smaller and its speed actually increases. This forms a cognitive dissonance that often surfaces when we discuss satellites losing altitude in orbit.

The second is a tensegrity structure which can be used to teach about moments and equilibrium.

The third is a marble run set that was really just lots of fun to watch rather than teaching any difficult concept other than energy changes.

The fourth is a series of optical illusions that can be used to promote thinking about how light from reflections travel.

The final print is a cup holder that can be swung in vertical loops with a cup full of water. This is the most popular print among my colleagues and will certainly be used in term 3 for the JC1 lessons on circular motion.

Pythagorean Cup

This is a 3D printed Pythagorean cup, otherwise known as a greedy cup, where if one pours far too much water or wine or whatever your greedy heart desires, all the contents in the cup will leak out through the bottom.

This is based on the design by “jsteuben” on Thingiverse (https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:123252). The siphoning effect kicks in when the water level is above the internal “tube” printed and hidden into the walls of the cup.

I printed another cup based on a more conventional design as well, but due to the wrong settings given when I prepared the gcode file, the cup was rather leaky when the water level was low. This design by “MonzaMakers” has a protruding siphon tube. (https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:562790)

Explaining how the siphon works is easier with the second cup. When the water level is lower than the highest point in the siphoning tube, it remains in the cup. When it exceeds the highest point of the tube, water begins to flow down the part of the tube leading to the opening at the bottom of the cup. The falling water column creates a suction effect and continuously draws the rest of the water in, until the cup is dry.

3D Printed Tippe Top

After setting up my newest toy, the Creality Ender 3 V2 3D Printer, I started with a few simple prints from the Thingiverse website. The first Physics-related object created is for a colleague – a tippe top. This interesting mushroom-shaped toy is spun with the round top facing down. If it is spun fast enough, it will eventually spin upright, in the opposite orientation to where it started spinning. In doing so, it’s centre of mass even shifted upwards.

The source of the STL file is: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:536377

The following video gives an explanation for why this happens.