Thingiverse | 3D Printing Atoms

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Some of the best things on Thingiverse are part of a long line of derivations, designs that are based on other community members’ creations. Thingiverse allows community members to easily cite their sources and give credit to the folks whose designs inspired new ideas and iterations.

One of our recent favorite things, the Customizable Atom Deluxe, has an especially illustrious history of derivation. This clever design allows users to create and print a Bohr model of every element in the periodic table. It prints in place, which means there’s no assembly required, and, once printed, the different valences can be manipulated to represented the atom’s 3D structure.

When Roman Hegglin published it a few weeks ago, he was sharing a design that drew from six previous designs that were inspired by one another. The succession began at the end of 2012 with fluffy’s Concentric Spinny Thing. mphardy built upon that to first introduce his Parametric Gimbal and then his Customizable Gimbal; both of which greengiant83 used to design his Gold Atom. Commenters loved the clever application of the Gold Atom’s print-in-place design and challenged someone to come up with a version of the Gold Atom for Thingiverse Customizer with which users could create and print ANY element’s atomic structure. That’s where Roman’s designs began to take shape through three iterations, finally publishing the Customizable Atom Deluxe.

Now, thanks to that chain of ideas, everyone in the Thingiverse community can create and print Bohr models of their favorite elements. Here’s how you do it:
1) Open in Customizer.
2) Select the element you want to print.
3) Play around with customizations like font, ring width, height and spacing, and center coin radius. You can go into the advanced settings and customize further.
4) Create the .stl file.
5) Download and print. (We prefer to print on a raft.)
6) Gently manipulate the concentric circles until they move freely around the nucleus.

We love the idea of these ingenious contraptions finding their way onto Thingiverse. So please spread the word, and make sure to include your favorite science teachers!