3D printed telescope

The University of Sheffield has released photos taken by a 3D-printed telescope, costing £100, which according to them has a quality rivaling conventional telescopes that cost 10 times as much!


Picture of the moon

A university has shown the first photographs taken by a £100 telescope built from parts made by a 3D printer.

The University of Sheffield researchers behind the project claim the image quality from the PiKon telescope compares to models costing 10 times as much.

Plans are available online allowing anyone to download and print the components needed to build the device.

The telescope’s images were unveiled as part of a science festival in the city.

It captured numerous pictures of the moon’s surface during its first use.

One of the Pikon’s developers, physicist Mark Wrigley, said he hoped the new telescope would be a “game changer”.

‘Democratising technology’

“We hope that one day this will be seen on a par with the famous Dobsonian ‘pavement’ telescopes, which allowed hobbyists to see into the night skies for the first time,” he said.

“This is all about democratising technology, making it cheap and readily available to the general public.”

At the heart of the telescope is the camera module of a Raspberry Pi, the cheap, barebones, British built computer.

Based on Isaac Newton’s reflecting telescope design, a concave mirror focuses an image directly onto the Pi camera sensor, which is mounted onto components created by 3D printing.

Other parts such as the lens and the mirror can be bought from online suppliers.

Because of the small size of the Raspberry Pi camera, it is possible to mount it directly in front of the mirror.

PiKon Telescope

The PiKon telescope has a magnification of times 160, which means that on a cloudless night it will allow detailed views of the moon’s surface, as well as galaxies, star clusters and some planets.

Mr Wrigley said that the designers would use public feedback to improve the telescope and develop new products.

Other events in the university’s Festival of the Mind, include a live musical performance by 150 musicians of Gustav Holst’s symphony The Planets in a pop-up planetarium and an interactive video game art gallery.


3D printed historical objects

A bit of 3D printing history has come to light! 🙂

Printed in the late 1990’s by Professor Ely Sachs (the person to actually coin the phrase ‘3D printing’) this replica of the 1,500 year-old monument in Istanbul is one of a handful of prints created in the original MIT 3D printing lab. Most of the other prints are now lost.


The 3D print model of the Hagia Sophia was printed by the original MIT 3D printing lab in the late 1990s. It is now owned by a 3D print enthusiast.

In the 1990s Professor Ely Sachs of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was the first person to coin the phrase “3D printing.” Utilizing a printer, which worked with alumina powder and a binding agent, several prints were created in surprising detail for the mid-1990s. Most of these prints were lost, but one has recently emerged, a 3D print of the Hagia Sophia.

The actual print, which measures just four centimeters across and depicts the nearly 1,500-year-old building in Istanbul, was given to a man named Branden Gunn, who works in 3D printing and runs the blog Engunneer. He was given the object by Jim Serdy, who worked with Sachs at MIT in 1990s.

Printed in original MIT 3D printing lab

“We were actually at a company beach party when I was talking with Jim about 3D printing in general, and he went to get the model for me from his car,” Gunn told 3DPrint.com when talking about the old 3D print of the Hagia Sophia. “I was not expecting it as a gift,” he added.

The 3D print model of the Hagia Sophia was printed by the original MIT 3D printing lab in the late 1990s. The model itself has features in the 50-100 micron size range, printed in Alumina, and fired into a ceramic.

The model features the internal geometry of the structure as well. The printer that made the model can be seen at the MIT Museum. Serdy said very few similar prints were done at MIT, and even fewer remain in existence today.