Introduction: Construct a Buckyball (Fullerene)

Buckyballs are one of my favorite shapes. Simple, strong, and with plenty of space inside, they are one of the strongest shapes in nature. If you don't know what they are, click here. Carbon buckyball molecules have been smashed against a wall at nearly the speed of light. yet they just bounce back into shape!

In this Instructable, you will build a very basic buckyball. Use it as a soccer ball, hackysack, or just for a cool and geeky decoration.

I constructed this buckyball using Winson Chan's diagram here. The file is under Joseph Wu's site, so make sure to check it out too.

Step 1: Materials

You will need:

Paper (Photo paper, construction paper, or regular printer paper)
Scissors (Paper cutter, utility knife, hobby knife works well too)
PDF file viewer
Winamp Player* (Or other music player with visualizations)

The items marked with an * are optional. (It is a good idea to staple the units together if you are going to be using heavy paper) They are not required but add your own style to the project. There are two ways to do this instructable. The first takes the most time, and the second, the least amount of time involved. So, if you are feeling rather lazy, or simply don't have the time, pick number 2.

1 - Is to go step by step and make your own design with Winamp, adding them to Photoshop and resizing the images. You'll need the PSD file.
2 - Is to download the sheets ready to print. Also do this if you don't have Photoshop.

Step 2: Neat Designs

You may omit this step and skip to number 7 If you want to skip this step. It is not necessarily, but adds life to the project. You'll need to start with 30 square pieces of paper if you do decide to skip to step #7.

The main primary purpose of music visualizations, are so that people will enjoy looking at them. I'll take this concept and add it to mine.

Using Winamp, I opened a music file, played it back, and enabled the visualization. Winamp has a plugin called MilkDrop, which has hundreds of visualizations. Start it up, and then go full screen. Then load a preset (Default action key is "L") My favorite is Witchcraft by fiShbRain. Enable it, and lock it (Default action key is "Scroll Lock) to keep it from switching to another visualization.

Once you've done that. take a screen shot every so often. You can press "Print Screen" (Fn+prt sc) on your keyboard, and it will copy your desktop contents into an image file. You can then go into Photoshop and paste the image. Save it. Then take 29 more screenshots and save them.

Step 3: Image Modification

If your screenshots consist of mostly black, like mine, or if you are following this Instructable step by step, then you will want to do this step.

Open the saved screenshot, Invert it (Ctr+I), then go to Image> Adjustments> Brightness/Contrast. Change the Contrast value to 80.

That was easy. You may want to do this for the rest of the images all at once if you wish, or repeat this step every time you add them to the PSD file.

Step 4: Adding to PSD File.

Once you've modified and adjusted the images. Open the PSD file included (BuckyBall 180pxin 8.5x8.5in.psd) Make sure you can view guides. (View> Show> Guides)

Open up the modified screen shot images and drag and drop them into the PSD file. Make sure you have "Snap to Guides and Document Bounds" enabled. (Under View> Snap and View> Snap To) Center the screenshot in the middle of the grid and then select the marquee tool and select the inside four squares. (See Images)

After that, select the inverse of your selection (Shift+Ctrl+I), meaning, everything, but what you had originally selected. Delete the selection, and you should be left with a square image. Select the "Move Tool" (V), and move the newly cropped image to a corner. Hide the layer after you are done.

Add all the other images.

Step 5: Print

Once you are done adding all 30 images, select four layers at a time to print. You will use seven and a half pages to print.

Then go to "Print With Preview" and set these settings. I was unable to set my printer to print without margins, so I used these settings. Select the "Scale to Fit Media" check box, and select "Corner Crop Marks" and "Center Crop Marks" if you want to make cutting easier.

After you've confirmed these settings, print!

Step 6: Cutting

After your pages have printed out, depending on the ink used, you may want to let them dry a bit.

Cut all the designs from each other, and you should be left with 30 square pieces of paper.

Step 7: Folding - First Part

You can follow the link to the PDF file if you're a bit familiar with origami and the line symbols (they're not hard to figure out), follow the steps here, or both to help you along. Make sure to look at the pictures for reference. I'll call the face with the design, the front face, or up side.

Making sure the printed side is facing downwards (Fig1 - Mine's right side up, I forgot to flip it before the pic), take a square piece of paper, and fold it in half. It doesn't really matter which side of the square is up. (Fig2)

Then, from the bottom right corner, fold it in until the corner right above meets the center crease. (Fig3)
So that you'll end up with this: (Fig4).

Then, flip the square face up, and bring both creased edges together to form a valley fold . (Fig5, 6,7).

Then flip it over. (Fig8)

Step 8: Folding - Second Part

After folding it in (Fig8), take the side flaps and fold them over to the other side (Fig9).
Do both sides (Fig10)
Then take one of the flaps and fold it towards the center, about halfway in (Fig11)
Fold the rest of the flap in half towards the center edge (Fig12)
And then fold that over on top (Fig13)
Repeat on the other side (Fig14)

Step 9: Folding - the Hook

After you've folded the main part, you'll need to fold the hook. It will allow you to connect the unit to the rest of the other units.

Without flipping the unit over (as in Fig14), take the outermost front flap facing you on the top, and fold it downwards, making a valley fold where the two corners of the flaps folded inward meet the outside edge (Fig15)

Fold the flap down (Fig16)
Usually, you can line up the outside edge crease to overlay the top diagonal edge (Fig17)
Otherwise, just make it look like Fig18

Step 10: One Unit Done

You've finished one unit. Don't worry, once you get the hang of it, it will be much easier and faster. However, if this is your first time making a buckyball, expect to spend at least 3 hours making it, not including the computer and printing part.

Fig19 and Fig20 show one finished unit.

Finish folding the rest of the square pieces of paper and then move on to the next step.

Step 11: Connecting

Now here's where you'll see your work pay off.

Using the hooks at the ends of the unit, connect a unit with another one at an angle, by inserting the hook flaps inside the other unit at the center. (Fig21, Fig22)

It is easier if you insert the flaps at the middle of the unit. (Fig23)
Insert both flaps. (Fig24)

You'll connect three units, and the center should look like a triangle. (Fig25)
You may want to staple the units in place if you are using heavy paper. (Fig26)

Step 12: Construct

Now that you know how the units connect to each other, you can finish building the buckyball.

Keep connecting units together, forming a semi circle as you go along. Stop when you get to making four center triangles, and you'll be bringing the two at the ends together to make a fifth triangle. (Fig27)

When you've connected the first and last center triangle to make the fifth one, your units so far should pop out, and start becoming 3-D (Not sitting flat on the table) (Fig28)

*Tip: I found that it was easier to add a unit along the inside edge (Fig29), and then adding the other unit to the first one before connecting them together (Fig30 A).
As opposed to connecting them in counterclockwise or clockwise order (Fig30 B). Just because when you do it that way, you don't have much wiggling room.

Keep adding more units (Fig31), and you should see your buckyball forming into its shape (Fig32).

Step 13: Finish!

Putting the last unit in, is perhaps the most difficult part (Fig33). It will want to become undone, and well, you'll have to wrestle with it a bit, especially if you're using heavy paper.

Once you've managed to put the last unit in place, you'll be done.

Congratulations! You've built your own buckyball!. You may want to throw it around, kick it, and play with it a little to let the paper form and bend some so it's not so stiff. It will also make give it more of a rounded shape, mine looked a bit squarish when I finished making it (Fig34)

Step 14: Show It Off

So why go through all this trouble for a ball?? Well, if you choose heavy paper, you'll see just how strong the buckyball can be. I've wanted to build one that's 10 ft tall, but, I don't have the cardboard necessary. Cardboard used in covering pallets when stacking cardboard boxes would work really well. Unfortunately, I don't live near a bakery or somewhere else I could get my hands on cardboard sheets, and buying big sheets of cardboard can be expensive. So, have fun, and make them small, the size of your head, or big enough to fit inside! Remember, you're not just 1337, you're 31337.