Blog -Portuguese engineer 3D prints attractive rotating DNA Helix Lamp utilizing glow-in-the-dark filament

June 10, 2015 | From Alec

While there are dozens of fun and unusual filaments out there to add some spice to your 3D printing projects, the vast majority of us still stick with boring old PLA or ABS. While I’m not in favor of a boycott, it’s just good to know what can be done if a little variety is added. Why not have fun with PLA filaments in the dark, for example, as the Portuguese engineer João Duarte did? He used it to create a very inspiring lava lamp-like creation that consists of an absolutely inspirational rotating and glowing in the dark DNA helix lamp.

As João explains, he is a young electrical and electronics engineer from Algarve, Portugal who absolutely loves technology. ‘I am a member and also one of the founders of eLab Hackerspace in Faro. I recently entered the world of 3D printing building my own Prusa i3 and so far I’ve learned a lot and developed myself further, ”he says. He also holds one personal blog of his fun 3D printed creations, but its DNA Helix lamp absolutely takes the cake.

As he explains, this lamp was inspired by the traditional lava lamps we all had in the nineties, but João wanted to turn them a little differently and PLA in the dark was a perfect solution. “I was looking for 3D objects online to test my 3D printer when I found some strands of DNA. They looked cool so I tried looking at them from different angles and I found that while rotating the piece they created an amazing and mesmerizing effect up and down. So I thought about designing a lamp that was also a bit inspired by the lava lamps, ”he says. I thought about using glow in the dark filaments to highlight the DNA helix when the lights were off. I also thought it would be cool to fade the LEDs on and off for a cool visual effect on the DNA. They go from bright white to green, giving her the strange feeling of a mysterious evil experience or that she is somehow alive. ‘

Well, this would be a challenging project even for the best of us, but João had only just started the 3D printing hobby. “So I didn’t have a lot of experience with 3D design, but I also wanted to get this project done quickly because I noticed that there was a teaching competition on 3D printing and I wanted to take part,” he says. With that in mind, he relied entirely on Autodesk’s Tinkercad web app for the design, which is simple and intuitive to use but doesn’t reflect the end result of this project at all. It just shows how much can be done with a little creativity.

And we have some good news for those of you looking to recreate this amazing project, as João wrote a very detailed Instructables tutorial. But be careful: it’s a fairly complex setup with lots of electronics and dozens of parts, so it may not be suitable for the beginner. As he explains, the entire structure essentially revolves around an electric motor that supports and rotates the DNA helix in an acrylic tube. ‘It has LEDs on the top and bottom of the tube that create a fading effect. Then it has a microcontroller (Arduino) that controls the rotation of the motor and the LEDs. I also added a push button on the front of the lamp that allows the user to switch between different modes of operation of the lamp, e.g. B. turn the rotary motor on or off and let the LEDs fade or always leave it at full brightness or completely off, says João. If you want to do this yourself, you can You can find the tutorial here.

However, you will find that the 3D printing phase of the project is quite straightforward. It took João about seven hours to design all of the pieces, even though he made all of his designs available for us to copy. He relied on his self-made Prusa I3 3D printer and a LulzBot TAZ 4 in his local hackerspace and 3D printed most of the parts in the black PLA that he had lying around, which, by the way, works great in combination with glow-in-the-dark filament. “For the DNA helix, I wanted to have a strange effect when the LEDs were turned off. So I thought it would be very cool to use the PLA filament“ Glow in the Dark ”. This is why it glows green when there is no light is. ” 3D printing took about 14 hours with two printers running at the same time. The print settings were pretty simple for an average quality with 20% fill, 0.2 mm layer height and a speed of 50 to 70 mm / s.

Now most of these parts are relatively easy to 3D print, although the DNA helix deserves special attention as the centerpiece: “It’s probably the hardest part because it’s very fragile, has many bridges, and requires a lot of retreats during the printing process. I designed it with 4 vertical support columns (already in the 3D model). This part should be printed as resiliently as possible, so I increased the shell thickness and the top / bottom layers, ”says João. However, the 3D printing results are definitely satisfactory. After a nice cleaning with a scalpel and a small pair of pliers, the carrier material was gone. For the DNA strand, this must be done very carefully. Cutting the support columns could force and break the DNA structure so I had a lot more success by melting them with the metal head of the hot glue gun and then removing the rest with the scalpel. Because the DNA has a lot of retractions and bridges, there can be a lot of threads (as you can see in the images above), but these can also be removed with a scalpel, ”he explains.

After the easy part is done, assembly and electronics are waiting for you. This is a very complicated phase that requires dozens of parts. Most you might have lying around or can save from another project; João even took the AC motor (usually the most expensive part of a project) off the rotating platform of an old microwave. However, be sure to follow the tutorial to install it. “We will be dealing with AC mains voltage, which is extremely dangerous and must be handled with extreme care!” João rightly warns us.

However, the result is definitely worth the effort as you can see for yourself in the following clip. “But since it’s a lamp, it will look a lot cooler in the dark, especially if the DNA helix is ​​glowing in the dark. The UV LEDs make for that amazing mesmerizing blue and purple, perfect for this project! It looks exactly as I imagined, ”says João. And there is nothing we can do but be absolutely in agreement; Have you ever seen a more impressive 3D printed lamp? João is already working on his follow-up project, which is also a lamp. We will no doubt hear more from him in the near future.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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Joao Duarte wrote on 08/02/2015 11:57:16 pm:

Thank you Hugo! 😉

Hugo wrote on June 10th, 2015 2:05:15 pm:

Great project, congratulations 🙂

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