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Picture of Butterfly surprise
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. 


 
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Step 1: 3D printing

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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.

Step 2: Materials and tools

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Besides the 3D printed pieces you will need some colored paper (I used a small piece of wrapping paper, but you could also use plain white paper and color it), a rubber band, some glue and scissors. You might also need a small file to smooth out part of the 3D printed pieces.

Step 3: Check the fit

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Once you get your 3D printed pieces this will just take a few minutes to put together:

Put the piece which looks like a hanger through the slot on the other piece, and see if it turns around easily. You may need to use a small file to smooth it out.

Step 4: Cut the wings

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Get two small pieces of colored paper (about 4" by 5.5") and fold them in four (fold it in half, then fold it in half again).

Draw the shape of the wings so that the straight edge is over the second fold. The bottom wing should be 1 1/2" (about 4cm) at the fold, the top wing (the one on the hanger) should be 1 3/8" (3.5 cm). Draw them to be about the shapes as pictured. After you cut along the lines you will have two matching, symmetrical pieces of both shapes.

Step 5: Attach the wings

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Put a small amount of glue on one side of the smaller piece and along the fold line and place it on the "hanger" piece as shown on the photo.

Attach the two larger wings onto the other 3D piece so they are glued next to the hook.

Step 6: Assemble

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Slide the hanger's hook into the slot of the other piece, then stretch a rubber band between the two hooks. My rubber band was too big so I doubled it up, which works fine.

Step 7: Setting up the prank

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Swivel the top wings around and around till the rubber band is as twisted as possible, then slip it into a book and close it quickly. When an unsuspecting reader opens the book your butterfly will flutter out!

Kiteman3 years ago
belsey (author)  Kiteman3 years ago
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.
Kiteman belsey3 years ago
Cool, thanks.
Yup, the rubber band and paperclip one's work great!
I would love to see a kid react to this! Very fancy!
belsey (author)  jessyratfink3 years ago
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.