Tensegrity

Tensegrity

This project highlights one of the current “hot topics” of 3D printing. Tensegrity is the principle of suspending non-continuous compression structures within a network of tension structures. These tensegrity principles are exhibited in the creation of “Impossible Tables”. These tables appear to defy the laws of physics and float in mid-air. Across 2 x 90-minute lessons, students will create their own “Impossible Tables” first in sketch form and then as 3D models which they will then 3D print.
Subjects
Design and TechnologySciencePhysicsComputing
Years | Grades
10th Grade | 14-15 years11th Grade | 15-16 years
Duration
Lesson 1: 90 minutes Print time: ~ 4 hours 30 minutes Lesson 2: 90 minutes

Tensegrity Trailer
Play 0:51

Objectives

  • Design and measure with precision
  • Understand and practice the tensegrity principles
  • Demonstrate how to align objects
  • Employ tolerances and offsets
  • Produce an “Impossible Table”  within the limitations detailed in the presentation
 

Tools and equipment

  • BE3D eDee printer and computer devices with CAD software
  • Example models
  • String or other tension 
 

Skill requirements

To participate in the lesson, students should be able to:
  • Use TinkerCAD, Fusion 360 or Similar CAD software at an intermediate level
  • Be comfortable with the principles of forces, tension, and compression
  • Be comfortable using DeeControl software including adjusting print settings
  • Use the BE3D eDee 3D printer

Tensegrity walkthrough
Locked 8:43

3D models overview

  • Total print time 11 hours 35 minutes
  • Total filament 43.2 m
  • Additional non-printable components
  • Printed all at once
BASIC TENSEGRITY PYRAMID BAR
  • 20 minutes
  • 0.6 m
BASIC TENSEGRITY PYRAMID TOP AND BOTTOM
  • 50 minutes
  • 3.2 m
BASIC TENSEGRITY ASSEMBLY
  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 7.2 m
TENSEGRITY TABLE BASE
  • 50 minutes
  • 3.6 m
TENSEGRITY TABLE BAR UPPER
  • 30 minutes
  • 1.3 m
TENSEGRITY TABLE BAR LOWER
  • 30 minutes
  • 1.3 m
TENSEGRITY TABLE REINFORCED (TOP AND BOTTOM)
  • 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 6.3 m
TENSEGRITY REINFORCED TABLE FORK
  • 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 1.3 m
TENSEGRITY TABLE REINFORCED LID
  • 2 hours
  • 9.1 m
TENSEGRITY TABLETOP
  • 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 5.1 m
Note: Values are calculated for one set of models.

Lesson resources

  • Lesson plan
  • Example models
  • Worksheet
  • Walkthrough
  • Presentation
  • 3D models
  • 3D print instructions
  • Curriculum alignment