Folding Dymaxion Globe/Map




Introduction: Folding Dymaxion Globe/Map

Mercator Projection got you down? Why not try the Dymaxion Projection!

Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao developed the Dymaxion Projection to fix two of the main issues Bucky found with maps of the time. First, more traditional projections distort either the shape or size of landmasses, particularly toward the poles. Secondly, Fuller felt that traditional maps exacerbated the artificial divisions between people that lead to the world wars. The Dymaxion Projection lays out the continents as one more-or-less continuous landmass to help reinforce the idea that we're all in it together on Spaceship Earth.

My first exposure to the Dymaxion Projection was when I saw Gav's laser cut Dymaxion globe on Make. I decided I had to make one of my own, but I wanted to preserve the ability to use it as both a map and a globe. Stefan Daschek made one such iteration of Gav's design, and I drew a lot of inspiration from them both. My goal was to design something more easily reproducible than Stefan's design, and as is usually the case with making, spent a lot more time designing a better mousetrap than I probably would have saved by just following his example.


Step 1: Laser Cutting the Map

The Dymaxion Map file by kbst is pretty much ready to go from Thingiverse, but I managed to slow myself down by overthinking things. You'll notice a couple small discrepancies in the first picture of the Dymaxion map. First, there are no mounting holes. I was originally planning to cut and mount piano hinges along concurrent edges of the map pieces, so I wanted to avoid putting unnecessary holes into the map. Once I had the pieces in hand and contemplated the minimum 120 screws required to put together a version of the map using piano hinges, I decided to figure out an assembly method that could use the existing 60 holes from Gav and kbst's files.

There was also a slight calibration error between the raster and cutting operations on my friend's laser cutter, so I was glad that we ended up prototyping on plywood instead of a more expensive piece of hardwood.

Step 2: Design the Hinges

While Gav, kbst, and Stefan did amazing work on their globes, the best part of any project is where you get to figure out something for yourself. While I was waiting on the laser cut parts, I started thinking through how to make the whole globe hinge apart and fold flat. As I mentioned before, my first plan was to get a piano hinge and cut sections for each attached edge of the map and then figure something out for the other connection points. When I started counting screws, hinges, and the number of cuts I'd need to make to get everything together, I decided that I needed to figure something else out.

Stefan's idea to use of gaffer's tape to hinge the vertices of the globe was brilliant, but I wanted a material that would be more durable for an heirloom time frame. I also like to use fasteners instead of adhesives when I can. I thought of making a 5-way, 3D printed hinge, but decided that was probably beyond my modeling abilities, so instead, I combined Gav's vertex support and the thin material idea from Stefan to make a leather/3D printed hybrid hinge.

I made the templates for the leather by tracing a hexagon around the holes from kbst's map file and adding the appropriate cut lines. The only change to Gav's vertex support file was to cut it into 5 pieces.

Step 3: Make the Hinges

Now that the hinge files were designed, it was time to make them into a real part. Since I'm impatient, and they were going inside of the globe, I printed the vertex supports at 0.3 mm layer height out of a high temp PLA.

I scored the leather with a Silhouette Cameo equipped with their deep cut blade set to 20. I tried to run the sheet of leather through twice to get a total of four passes on the design (double cut per run), but the machine slipped on the second run, and I had to abort early. The slippage resulted in some extraneous cuts in the leather, so I'll be cutting a few new leather parts the first chance I get. Since I wasn't able to get all the way through, I finished cutting the leather with a pair of fabric shears.

Step 4: Putting It All Together and Next Steps

This step involves a lot of screws - 60, to be exact. The leather portion of the hinge goes between the plywood and the printed plastic support. This whole assembly gets screwed together.

I'm pretty happy with how the hinge mechanism works. It's one of the best implementations of what was in my head to what actually came into the real world. I'd like to spend some time tightening up the clearances in the globe, and also making some magnetic closures. This way the globe can be swapped between map and globe mode without any tools at all. For now, I added a few solid vertices in key locations to hold it in shape. I'll update this Instructable as well as the Thingiverse files once they're finished. Thanks for stopping by!

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    3 years ago

    This is really cool, thanks for sharing. Wish our own laser cutter was up and running!


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks! I'm glad I have a friend with one since I don't live near a makerspace anymore!