Picture of Desktop Architecture Kit
Make your own magnetic construction kit, unbound by angle or length, with the help of some 3D printed caps!

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Step 1: Experiment

Picture of Experiment
Lots of interesting magnetic construction sets have been popping up, but they all seem content with making dodecahedrons all day long. If you're building a fort in the woods, nature doesn't supply you with pre-cut lumber. I wanted a quick way of exploring organic structure on my desk.

Step 2: The File

Picture of The File
Trial and error proved the neodymium spheres had a tendency to slide off the tip of the wire and snap onto the side. I created a 3D model of some tubular wire caps that keep the magnets in place.

Drilling out plastic rod by hand would've been laborious and inaccurate so I had 32 identical caps printed in and sent to me in Shapeways' elasto plastic. Because of material costs, the best thing for inventors to print these days are small things, and these caps are as small as it gets.

You can download the .STL of my original caps here if you want to print them yourself.
STL - 32x Plastic caps for 12 guage wire + 1/4" magnets

Step 3: The Build

Picture of The Build
Assembly is easy! Just cut each wire to size with nippers, sand down any sharp edges and slide one cap onto each end of all the wire links. 

When printed in elasto-plastic my file fit 11-13 gauge wire because of the materials stretch. If printing in plastics like PLA or ABS tolerance will be more important. A digital caliper is a great tool for this and you should be able to find one for under $20 at your hardware store.

I bought my 1/4" sphere magnets here but you can use anything you have laying around.
If you print 32 caps, you should end up with 16 completed links.
It's not knex. Pretty nice though.
hunter9992 years ago
Looks sturdy! good job!
studleylee2 years ago
This is cool, but I played with this once and had issues with the magnets polarizing the spheres. So multiple rods on a sphere shifted oddly. Did you run into this?
hunterfrerich (author)  studleylee2 years ago
Yes, all neodymium spheres are axially polarized, and this can travel through the wire. Although I found it's less of a problem the longer the wire is.
Agreed, also I think my setup was ball-bearings and magnet-ended-rods. Cool thanks for the instructable!
foobear2 years ago
Pretty cool. Seems like this could fit into one of the toy building blocks contests?
industriald2 years ago
This is great, very simple and well executed. Good luck in the contest!