3D printed flexures

3D printed flexures

I have long been fascinated by Flexagons - paper constructions that can rotate infinitely upon themselves, revealing a new side of the solid with every turn.

While I used to make them out of paper earlier, I have since made some lasercut versions that used tape as the flexing material as well as live hinges cut into the material itself.

Not having access to a lasercutter during lockdown, while the 3D printer was right there waiting - I decided to see how I could work out some 3D printed flexible units.

One version was a slender linkage that allowed the unit to not just flex in it’s base plane but also rotate parts of it out of plane. This resulted in some interesting twistable units and forms.

Following that, I created in-between links to prevent out-of-plane twisting but keep the in-plane bending, to have a more controlled flexion. This is close to the typical live-hinges used in lasercutting as well.

Six of these come together to form a flexagon that can rotate around its common centre.