Science and Solar Systems: Explained by way of 3D Printing

NVBOTS aims to inspire creativity in students around the world and as an intern, I can see how easy it will be for them to do so, since I am a student already motivated by what the company is doing. One of my initial projects was to work with the design team to build a database of 3D-printable educational materials that meet the next generation standards, as given on We spent every two weeks working on topic given by the next generation standards website. In the first two weeks, my group worked on a 3D model of the periodic table. Such a model enables us to visualize and explain more easily the trends of the periodic table. We focused on the trend in radius, first ionization energy and atom classification. Each atom was represented by a semi-circle of radius proportional to the actual radius of the atom. The semi-circles are joined to a box with a height proportional to the atom’s ionization energy. We also provided the option of atom classification through a color code, as displayed in figure 1.

The theme for the following two weeks was earth and planetary sciences. My group worked on building a model for simulating orbital motion of planets around the sun. We also made a model of space warp due to a mass and primarily responsible for all orbital motion: the planets around the sun, as well as satellites around the earth, as displayed on figure 2.

Figure 2: Space warp due to a mass and responsible for orbital motion of objects around a mass (

The main challenge in creating a model of the solar system is the scale. Originally, we had wanted to  keep all the dimensions, including distance and radii, to scale. We found out this was impossible because the sun is two orders of magnitude bigger than the earth. We decided to scale the planet relative to each other, make the sun bigger and not focus on scaling the distances.

We brainstormed the general look of the solar system and chose the look displayed in figure 2. The sun and the planets are spheres and their orbitals are ramps.

We then wanted to make the dimensions to scale but that was impossible because the sun is so much bigger than the planets. We ultimately decided to scale it down so the planets are to scale but the sun is just bigger than the biggest planet. The alpha version of our solar system model is displayed in figure 3. Every planet has a ramp corresponding to its orbital.

Figure 3: Solar System Model: Every planet has a ramp corresponding to its orbital

Bottom line: I came in with very little exposure to 3D printers but three weeks into the internship, I learned not only the vocabulary associated with 3D printers but also how to print successful parts related to very important topics  – and this is just the beginning.



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