The Zonodome

Update, October 6, 2018 - The Zonodome is complete!

A collection of colorful 3D-printed nodes are connected by wooden rods to form a dome in the shape of a candle flame. Atop it sits a triangular yellow flag. This is the completed Zonodome. George Hart stands atop a step-ladder inside the Zonodome, attaching the final nodes and dowels.
The Zonodome, completed at Construct 3D 2018 in Atlanta, GA.

Marty flew to Atlanta, GA to help oversee the build along with George Hart, the designer of the sculpture.

Congrats and thanks to George and the participants at Construct 3D 2018 at the Georgia Tech Hotel and convention center for completing the build. And thanks to all the Builders out there for printing and shipping so many parts!

Additional thanks to:

  • Leigh and the Georgia Tech Hotel staff who letting Marty borrow an electric pencil sharpener to sharpen dowels.
  • Amazon Prime Now for delivering a replacement pencil sharpener when the other one bit the dust.
  • Laura Taalman for doing all the part receiving and wrangling. Thanks for coordinating everything to make sure all the parts showed up!
  • Jessica and Jesse of nervous system for coming straight from their event keynote to help clean up parts and assemble.
  • Ryan Bell for jumping in on all parts of the build.
  • and many more folks who showed up, sharpened dowels, connected parts, took photos, and more!

See Marty's blog post about the build for more photos!

Zonodome Side View
The Zonodome, a mathematical sculpture by George Hart

Zonodome Top View

The We the Builders team is proud to present our sixth project, the Zonodome, designed by mathematician and artist George Hart.

George Hart will be leading a massive community building project at Construct3D. Hart is an expert at modular mathematical structures that can be put together by large groups of people, and has constructed numerous community builds at other events, such as the neutrino-inspired SNO-ball he built at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Similarly, he also built an elaborate six-foot Erubescence construction with students in North Broward Preparatory School in Coconut Creek, Florida.

Here’s what these sculptures looked like completed:

Erubescence SNO-ball

The two sculptures above were made from a large number of intricate laser-cut wood pieces connected together with simple zip-ties. At Construct3D, Hart is going to do something a little different. The main building pieces will be simple wooden dowels, but the connectors will be complicated. In fact, they will be 3D printed!

Hart will use mathematics to design 3D-printable connectors that hold wooden dowels at exact angles, calculated to come together into a 9-foot-high dome spire.

Here’s how he created it:

“The structure is based on a 16-fold polar zonohedron shape, oriented with its symmetry axis vertical and truncated to remove its bottom three-and-a-half rows of rhombi. The vertex coordinates are determined by creating the arrangement of 16 "umbrella ribs" which meet at the top of the structure, then calculating their many possible vector sums. The form of each 3D-printed node is built with constructive solid geometry techniques---taking the difference of a sphere centered at the vertex and four cylinders that point to neighboring nodes, then making a planar slice to give a flat surface that sits on the build surface.”

The Zonodome sculpture will require 193 printable pieces (we are printing 230 for safety!), which is between the 198 parts used to produce Ben Franklinstein a.k.a. Distributed Ben Franklin and the 110 parts to produce the Bust of George Washington. But in this case the resulting structure will enclose a larger volume than all of the We The Builders projects created to date, rolled up in a ball!

Not only will The Zonodome be the largest sculpture we have created, but it will be produced using the smallest amount of plastic. Even with the addition of 416 thin 3/16” wooden dowel rods, the entire sculpture may also prove to be lighter than the smallest We The Builders sculpture as well. (This depends slightly on the materials used for connectors!)

Now we need your help to bring it to life! In the weeks leading up to the Construct3D event, We The Builders participants will be able to sign up to print one or more of the 230 connecting pieces that will be collected for producing the sculpture. You will also be able to customize and personalize your printed pieces so that your individual personality, school, or organization is represented in the final sculpture.

Our goal is to have all of the parts ready to assemble by 7:00am Saturday morning on October 6th as a project that all attendees to Construct3D 2018 can take part in the assembly, led by artist George Hart.

Printing the Parts!

We ask that you use these settings when printing your Zonodome parts:

  • Minimum of 3 shells / outside lines. Infill 20%.
  • Please do NOT use supports.

Printing without support worked fine on all of the printer models used when testing the parts. We will ream out any drooping material in the holes with a 3/16” drill to make sure all parts are perfectly interchangeable. Pips inset into the base of the parts identify which type has been printed, while the bump on top of the connector indicates which side is “up” in terms of the final construction.

The flat base of the parts (the part that will be inside the sculpture) is very small. Instead of marking the part number on the printed parts themselves in sharpie as has been the request for previous We The Builders projects, we request that you bag up all of the parts that you print in a ziplock bag -- and use a sharpie to list out the parts number on the bags themselves. (For example, if you print c0113.stl and c0410.stl, you would write “c0113, c0410” on the the outside of the bag.)

Make sure the ink sticks to the bag, or in a pinch write on a piece of paper to put into the bag if you don’t have suitable permanent marker. As we receive the parts, we will check them off the parts list and distribute them into the prep-box of each connector type to be drilled out to prepare them for the assembly process.

Colors & Materials!

With bump on top and the pips to identify the connector type underneath, we have all we need to prepare the model for assembly. So we are letting your color palette and material palettes run wild!

We only ask that you consider these three factors when selecting your material:

  1. Did you select PLA, ABS, or PETG, and use at least three (3) outer shells and 20% infill? Great!
  2. Do you want to select another material? Will it be at least as strong as the materials and settings in step 1? Great!
  3. Is your material safe to handle and drill? Great!

We love having our builders send us parts in all kinds of diverse materials. Our past projects have included parts made from ABS, PLA, PHA, wood, resin, metal plated, UV reactive, bronze filled, glow-in-the-dark, and multicolor dyed and filament-swapped parts. Feel free to use whatever materials you want, but please make sure to consider these three steps!

The Assembly Event - at Construct3D 2018

Georgia Tech Hotel & Conference Center
Shipping Deadline: Deliver by October 1st
Hand Delivery Deadline: Hand deliver by October 5th to:
The Zonodome receiving box at Construct3D 2018 Registration Table at Georgia Tech Hotel & Conference Center
7:00am, Saturday October 6th at Construct3D at Georgia Tech Hotel & Conference Center

Help Bring the Zonodome to Life!

You can get started by clicking on the "Give me a File to Print" button below. Print your part and send us a photo, along with the dimensions. If it looks good, ship it to us, or grab another part and print some more!

Check out the How it Works page for the full breakdown.

Modifying the Parts

Modified Connector

As a second step for the enterprising designers among those participating this year, we invite you to customize connector types c01 - c08 by extending, sculpting, marking, and otherwise transforming the top surfaces. This opportunity is optional, and can be a lot of fun. Use the software you prefer, the materials you prefer, but follow these simple rules:

The Rules for Modifying Parts

  1. Only c01, c02, c03, c04, c05, c06, c07, and c08 connectors can be modified. (So nothing with c00 nor c12.)
  2. Preserve the bump on top that alerts the assembly team which way is up.
  3. Be mindful based on the bump how your modification will be oriented.
  4. Do not interfere with or weaken the insert holes in the part. If a dowel rod cannot be inserted all the way into the opening, the part can’t be used.
  5. Designs must be suitable for all guests to the hotel, from children to seniors.

Hardwood Dowel Rods

Unlike any of the previous We The Builders designs, this project uses dowel rods instead of glue to connect all of the parts. The rods aren’t just a means to an end, they are inherently a part of the design -- and a technique you can use on your next project.

One of the interesting features to this design compared to many other geodesic domes and other models is that the majority of the structure uses the same rod length, expressing the complexity of the design via the precise angles and planning for the connectors themselves. And the entire design scales to suit the length of the rods!

The Zonodome uses around 416 rods. For ease of handling and to permit a margin for each connector to approach each other, it would be possible to create the entire structure with a rod-length of six inches or a little less, producing a smaller much denser structure.

At Construct3D 2018, we will be producing a version of the structure with approximately 12” rods that will result in a large, strong structure that can be easily assembled by hand thanks to the flexibility of the 3/16th” dowel rods. (The sixteen horizontal dowels along the floor are trimmed to slightly shorter -- 90% of the lengths of the others.)

Should you want to attempt to make projects like these yourselves, there are a number of places where you can obtain good quality 3/16” hardwood dowel rods, from local craft stores and hardware stores to large online hardware sources such as McMaster-Carr. We found a craft source online that offered large sets of dowel rods pre-cut to 12” length, but could also have purchased batches of longer stock and cut them down to 12” length on site. When choosing the lengths and diameters to use for your design, consider that there is a tradeoff between length (shorter tends to be sturdier) and diameter (thicker can be stronger, but is also a lot heavier).

Join the Community!

We The Builders brings together 3D printer operators from all over the world to create sculptures that inspire makers. Our sculptures have toured maker-related events of all sizes around the northeastern United States, from local STEAM education events all the way to the White House.

Find out more, join the discussion, and share photos on our Facebook Page or on Twitter #WeTheBuilders!

At the end of the Construct3D conference, the project will be disassembled and donated to the We The Builders project, so that George Hart’s installation can be reprised again in the future should there be an opportunity.

Artist Bio - George Hart

George Hart - Photo

George Hart is an interdisciplinary sculptor, mathematician, computer scientist, and educator. A former research professor at Stony Brook University, George is a pioneer in using computer technology and 3D printing in the design and fabrication of sculpture. Examples of his artwork can be seen M.I.T., U.C. Berkeley, Duke University, Princeton University, and Stony Brook University. He has developed original education materials to incorporate 3D printing into the high school math curriculum, and has helped many teachers bring this work into their own classrooms. George is a co-founder of North America's only Museum of Mathematics. As chief of content, he set the "Math is Cool!" tone of the museum, and spent five years designing their original exhibits and workshop activities.

About Construct3D

Construct3D Banner

Construct3D is an academic digital fabrication conference with a primary focus on 3D printing and design. Teachers, practitioners, technologists, designers, students, and academics from K12, higher education, libraries, and makerspaces will come together for the 2018 edition of the conference at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia, to share their experience and learn from the community.

This year, Construct3D will have three major keynote addresses, including Larry Rosenstock, CEO of High Tech High Charter Schools, Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg from the design studio Nervous Systems, and mathematical sculptor and 3D pioneer George Hart.

Register for Construct3D now and reserve your hotel room at a special conference rate. Check out the preliminary Construct3D schedule for an overview of the talks, workshops, and events. We'll see you there!

Individual Contributors

Our thanks to all the individuals who are making this project happen!

  • John Mak (22 Parts) 22
  • Matthew Griffin (15 Parts) 15
  • JAYTEE (13 Parts) 13
  • Reid Larson (12 Parts) 12
  • Jon Dunfee (7 Parts) 7
  • David Waugh (6 Parts) 6
  • S D (6 Parts) 6
  • Luis E. Rodriguez (6 Parts) 6
  • JAT.MN (5 Parts) 5
  • Laura Taalman (5 Parts) 5
  • Rose Smith (5 Parts) 5
  • Adam Starbuck (5 Parts) 5
  • Kristen Schreck (4 Parts) 4
  • Don Rhosko (4 Parts) 4
  • LTD Investments (4 Parts) 4
  • Lachie Harper (4 Parts) 4
  • Cat (4 Parts) 4
  • Randy Mongenel (3 Parts) 3
  • Ryan Downs (3 Parts) 3
  • Vicente Gasco (3 Parts) 3
  • Top Dollar (3 Parts) 3
  • Stephen Kamin (3 Parts) 3
  • David Buffington (3 Parts) 3
  • Iffel Giffel (3 Parts) 3
  • matthew thompson (2 Parts) 2
  • Jeff Bedell (2 Parts) 2
  • Morgan .Strongbow (2 Parts) 2
  • Nathan Prewett (Screwyluie) (2 Parts) 2
  • Jonathan Warren (2 Parts) 2
  • Garrett Reynolds (2 Parts) 2
  • TheWeb Expert (2 Parts) 2
  • Brian Renegar (2 Parts) 2
  • Gary Thomas (2 Parts) 2
  • Samuel Fisher (2 Parts) 2
  • Dallas O'Brien (2 Parts) 2
  • Kareem Sultan (2 Parts) 2
  • Luke Harmon (1 Part)
  • Trollo, Der (Grisufighter) (1 Part)
  • Ryan Hescock (Stanos) (1 Part)
  • George Stevens (1 Part)
  • Aaron Harlow (1 Part)
  • Weston Tolman (1 Part)
  • Fyterfrogs Endeavor (1 Part)
  • Angelo Cristallini (1 Part)
  • Lizabeth Arum (1 Part)
  • Richard Schark (1 Part)
  • Ryheem McCutchen (1 Part)
  • Craig Cormier (1 Part)
  • Creation Labs (1 Part)
  • Kate Gombos (1 Part)
  • George Hart (1 Part)
  • Alan Romack (1 Part)
  • Churchwell Gifted Video Channel (1 Part)
  • Amy Hurst (1 Part)
  • Kristopher Gilbert (1 Part)
  • Märten Tõnissoo (1 Part)
  • Heather Chen (1 Part)
  • Micah Lande (1 Part)
  • Karen Ann Carter (1 Part)
  • meghan rimelspach (1 Part)
  • Blake Caldwell (1 Part)
  • Connor M (1 Part)
  • Scott Willis (1 Part)
  • John Grant (1 Part)
  • David Light (1 Part)
  • Paul Paukstelis (1 Part)
  • Todd Blatt (1 Part)
  • Chris Bannerman (1 Part)
  • Justin Hopkins (1 Part)
  • Jaden Rasmussen (1 Part)
  • David Massie (1 Part)
  • Gilles Boenisch (1 Part)
  • Isaac Georgeson (1 Part)
  • Jon Bryson (1 Part)
  • Peter Frystak (1 Part)
  • David Heefner (1 Part)
  • Luke Leyden (1 Part)
This build required 230 parts
We have completed 100%!

Recent Activity

Kristen Schreck shipped Part c0707 over 5 years ago
Jon Dunfee is ready to ship Part c0536 over 5 years ago
Jon Dunfee is ready to ship Part c0519 over 5 years ago
Kate Gombos is ready to ship Part c0217 over 5 years ago
Jon Dunfee is ready to ship Part c0501 over 5 years ago
Kristen Schreck shipped Part c0206 over 5 years ago
Lizabeth Arum delivered Part c0713 over 5 years ago
Luis E. Rodriguez delivered Part c0614 over 5 years ago