Pop goes the mechanical ping pong sculpture

In the waiting rooms of some dentists or doctors, you may have seen a giant metal ball rolling around in a large display case. While it’s best to browse through these magazines, carving can’t come cheap. But not all of us want to pay high prices for fun toys. As a more cost effective alternative, [JBV Creative] built a superb 3D printed ping pong sculpture.

The basic concept is the same as those whimsical sculptures: a ball goes up, moves through a kind of awesome range of motion as it comes down, and some kind of drive mechanism pushes it back to repeat the cycle again. . The design of this particular work of art is no different. A ping pong ball drops down a funnel into a queue where balls are slowly loaded through a 12-way Geneva mechanism. An Archimedean spiral cam charges a rubber band that pushes the ball up and off the track and sends it into the air and down inside the previously mentioned funnel. Everything on this sculpture is 3D printed except for the rubber bands and ping pong balls.

What’s tricky about this stuff is the precision required in both printing and design. It should work for hundreds, if not thousands of hours and make no mistake about it. Getting something to work correctly 99% of the time is hard, but that last 1% can be almost as much work as the first 99%. [JBV Creative]The first attempt of had a catapult mechanism and he printed and tried several scoops, but none gave the trajectory he was looking for.

[JBV Creative] tried a piston mechanism, but without a counterweight providing the power, it just didn’t have enough punch to launch the ball. Luckily, holes were included in the design, so it was relatively easy to adapt what had already been printed to use rubber bands instead. An additional goal was to have no visible fixings, so everything had to be mounted from the rear. See him in action after the break.

This is an incredible project that required serious thought, dedication and, in [JBV Creative]’s words, a lot of twirling CAD. It’s a great lesson in iteration and experimentation. If your talents are more soldering-based than CAD-based, maybe a circuit sculpt would suit you better?

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