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This instructable demonstrates and explains blooms, a unique type of 3D-printed sculpture designed to animate when spun while lit by a strobe light (or captured by a video camera with a very fast shutter speed).

What you are viewing in each of the above videos is a bloom spinning at 550 RPMs while being videotaped at 24 frames-per-second with a very fast shutter speed (1/4000 sec). The rotation speed is carefully synchronized to the camera's frame rate so that one frame of video is captured every time the bloom turns ~137.5º—the golden angle. Each petal on the bloom is placed at a unique distance from the top-center of the form. If you follow what appears to be a single petal as it works its way out and down the bloom, what you are actually seeing is all the petals on the bloom in the order of their respective distances from the top-center. Read on to learn more about how these blooms were made, why the golden angle is such an important angle, and how these are related to the Fibonacci numbers. You will also find some tips for constructing the turntable and strobe light required to animate blooms.

Blooms are available at Shapeways, a 3D printing service.

Step 1: How the blooms were designed to create this effect

The placement of the appendages on blooms is critical to the success of the animation effect. The positions are based on a specific phyllotaxy (i.e. leaf order) used by nature in a number of botanical forms, including pinecones, pineapples, sunflowers, artichokes, palm trees, and many succulents.

The photo above shows just such a succulent. I have numbered the leaves from youngest to oldest. If you follow the numbers in sequence you will find that each leaf is approximately 137.5º around the core from the previous leaf. 137.5º is a very special angle, called the golden angle, based on the golden ratio. The golden ratio is such an important number in mathematics that it's been assigned to the greek letter α (phi). When the golden angle is used by nature as a growth strategy it leads to the formation of spiral patterns. If you were to count the number of spirals in these patterns you will find that they are always Fibonacci numbers (e.g. check out the spirals on these pinecones).

In designing the blooms, I used essentially the same method employed by nature. I placed the appendages one-at-a-time starting from the top-center, positioning each appendage 137.5º around the center from the previous appendage and also a little further out and/or down.

So when I animate these blooms by spinning them with a strobe light (or video camera) I am, in a sense, recreating the process that I used to make them in the first place. Below are two stop-motion animations of some of my earlier work with Fibonacci spirals. You may these helpful in gaining a better intuition about how this animation technique operates.

The first animation shows a self-similar tiling, in which every piece is a unique size, but all pieces are the same shape. In the video each piece is removed (and later added) at an angle of ~137.5 degrees from the previous. Note: this is not CGI (computer-generated imagery); it is a stop-motion animation of actual laser-cut pieces of MDF.

(BTW, if you would like to make one of these Fibonacci tilings for yourself, check out my instructable, which includes the cutting file.)

The second animation shows the TransTower, a sculpture based on the same geometry as the tiling above. The transformations in this tower result entirely from rotating the individual layers by the golden angle with respect to their neighboring layers. (Note: this is not CGI; it is a stop-motion animation of actual laser-cut MDF.)

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<p>This is a project I've been waiting to do for a long time now that I just recovered! Would you be so kind as to share the stl files to me? I'll be showing them (with proper credit) on a 3d printing showcase in Tenerife. E-mail: balonmanoamorir@gmail.com</p>
<p>Thanks John for the files. It's not the best thing I've ever done, but it works, and it's cool to watch. I have a dc motor with a reducer, running at 32 rpm and a decent enough $8 ebay strobe. The video is from my ipad converted to gif and I took out all the black frames. It looks better in real life than on video. I'm trying the bloom next. </p>
<p>I have just received 2 sculptures (awesome looking), but haven't been able to locate turntable and strobe light info to get everything set up immediately.</p><p>Can you advise on what i need?</p>
<p>This instructable provides information on making the strobe and turntable. You will also need to write some simple code to control them with the Arduino micro-controller.</p>
<p>Hello from NYC . they are awesome!! How do I get one? </p><p>This is art, just beautiful! M. </p>
<p>Thank you for your kind comments. I'm working with a manufacturer to make these available with the necessary turntable and strobe light. Stay tuned!</p>
Any estimated time frame? I would like to purchase as a bday gift
I am fascinated. It reminds me of a pinecone. I seen the artichoke, i think the same would apply with a pinecone. I gotta give your idea a whirl!
<p>I love the fibonacci series. Thank you so much for this! I love the last video and see the shape being applied as a sky scrapper. </p>
<p>Yes, I have also thought that it might make an interesting building. Please tell me if you know somebody that wants to build it!</p>
<p>The first set of videos are mesmerizing too :)</p>
<p>I am well aware of Fibonacci spirals and their role in nature. I see them everywhere. This is all so cool.</p>
<p> that is insane Sooo beautiful</p>
<p>I've implemented the basic bloom sphere structure using Blender and a Sverchok scripted node. The basic codes and example are on <a href="https://github.com/elfnor/bloom_sphere" rel="nofollow">github</a>.</p><p>Explanations and some gifs are over at <a href="http://elfnor.com/bloom-spheres-in-sverchok.html" rel="nofollow">Look Think Make</a>. </p><p>Thanks for the inspiration.</p>
<p>Thanks for posting source code to play with!</p>
<p>Very coo! Thanks for sharing!</p>
<p>nice..</p>
<p>nice..</p>
<p>Thrilling journey to make these sculptures and the spinning platform!</p>
<p>Hi John,</p><p>Are links to .stl still active in this Instructable? I noticed the DB link had been removed. You had sent the link to me personally about a year ago.Thank you. :)</p>
<p>Hello John, tell me how to get the file sizes of your shapes in STL format? </p><p>I want to make these for her concert in Russia. My mail aleksa-panov@yandex.ru</p>
<p>About the squealing sound of the motor using the ESC / BEC: the frequency of the signal, like a PWM signal does with a DC motor, causes the squealing. It might be difficult to really get rid of the squealing sound. An alternative is to control the speed using a potentiometer and a setup with an IR diode or a hall sensor to count and manage the RPM's according to the strobe frequency.</p>
or smooth the pwm'ed signal? A capacitor would do it wouldn't it?<br><br>
<p>Thanks! I'll look into that.</p>
<p>These are the most amazing thing i have seen yet...you sir are a total genius! </p>
<p>Mahalo for your examples of the sublime beauty of mathematics and the pleasure they bring! Your work makes me long for a 3D printer and a laser cutter.</p><p> A simple FET / microcontroller combination would switch the LED efficiently but the &quot;firing&quot; capacitor / charging network should be sized to the needed rep rate and pulse width. Enabling a watchdog timer is also good insurance to avoid leaving the LED on. Sync to the turntable with a sensor ( hall or optical ) would be easy. </p>
<p>You put a huge smile on my face today. Love the pieces. </p>
<p>Thanks! You put a smile on *my* face.</p>
<p>Majestic is all I can say about this sculpture.</p>
<p>please share your stl's pretty please?</p>
<p>You are a very talented,creative and generous artist.Have you considered doing something like this in a larger scale? Maybe a public installation. It's just the thing to inspire an interest in art, craft, science, and math. And of course technology and engineering.</p>
<p>Thank you for your kind words. There would be a number of technical challenges to overcome in order to make these substantially larger, but I'm hopeful that it will happen one day.</p>
<p>fantastic work! a file link would be greatly appreciated :) turnontunein at googlemail dot com. cheers! plan on illuminating with leds from the inside, if that works out :)</p>
<p>This is fantastic work</p>
Great work! You might want to check out the work of Johan Gielis on natural shapes and the superformula!
<p>Thanks, and Thanks for the reference! Very intriguing!</p>
<p>This is just awesome!</p>
<p>beautiful</p>
<p>These look awesome. I can imagine how they would look in real life with a real strobe light.</p>
<p>First off, I want to thank you for your work. If I were to make my own zoetrope, would I have to set each pedal manually? or did you program it? Also, was there a different process for the triple toroid shape and the falling cubes? those are the coolest to me. Thanks! </p>
<p>Step 2 describes how to construct a bloom. All the blooms have the same underlying geometry, but the tori are a little bit different since they are not spherically based.</p>
<p>Hi, are the best results for these printed in ABS or PLA? Thanks</p>
<p>I'm afraid I don't know that answer to that, as I have not printed the sculptures in either of those materials. Perhaps someone else here can offer advice.</p>
<p>Such beautiful designs and concept! Thanks for sharing the files, though I noticed you have them listed as for non-commercial use. Would it be possible to use them to market some novel 3D printing materials on our end? </p>

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