This simple little butterfly which flutters out of your book when you open it was the perfect opportunity to try out 3D printing. I had previously attempted to make it with paperclips and other materials, but nothing worked. It is small, which means it requires a measure of precision which is very tedious if you're trying to make this by hand with any other material: the two pieces must fit together perfectly, yet be able to move freely. The butterfly must be thin enough to slip between the pages of a book, but strong enough to withstand the tug of a tightly wound rubber band.  

UPDATE: Kiteman made one of these with paper clips -- though I haven't tried making it, judging by the photos it looks pretty good. 

Step 1: 3D printing

Like most people I do not own a 3D printer, although I do dream of it. However there are several online vendors who will be happy to print these files for you.

Out of loyalty to Instructable I wanted to check out 123D, but they don't offer Mac support and the file formats they can import are not supported by the free version of Google SketchUp which I used for my drawings. So instead I sent my file to Ponoko, where you can get them for free (the files, that is -- you will still need to pay for printing them).

You will need to print this out of durable superfine plastic: most of the other materials can't be as tiny and precise as this needs to be. The printing came to $2.63 -- not too bad -- however the shipping was over $10. I would never have ordered this if I hadn't been itching to try out 3D printing and had the motivation of entering an Instructable contest. If you just need to see what 3D printing can do, this is a good project because the pieces are tiny and cannot be made in any other way. If you're just motivated by the toy, then you might be disappointed: it is fun, but in my opinion it's not quite $13 fun.
See, <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Rubber-band-Powered-Butterfly/" rel="nofollow">I knew these worked</a>!
I'm so impressed you managed to make this work with paperclips! I got so frustrated trying... I wish I had seen your instructable before... Still, I don't regret doing it with a 3D printer, it was a good pretext to try out the technology. I'll be sure to include a link to your instructable on my next update.
Cool, thanks.
Yup, the rubber band and paperclip one's work great!
I would love to see a kid react to this! Very fancy!
I wanted to do the same thing -- but my kids know all about it and it's very hard getting a spontaneous reaction when you hand a book to a kid and train a video camera on them: most of them will become pretty suspicious.

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Bio: I am a paper engineer, writer, maker and chemist wannabe. In addition to pop-up cards I design and build furniture, lights, costumes or whatever I ... More »
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