3D Printed Toy Uses 104 Pennies to Walk

3D Printing & Imaging Fun & Games
Photo of Gyroman.
Photo of Gyroman.
The 3D printed Gyroman has a distinctive walk and a payload full of pennies.

Behold Gyroman! No, it’s not a Greek food truck — it’s a little walking toy unlike anything you’ve seen before. Best of all, you can make one right now for just pennies!

No seriously — gather up exactly 104 pennies, because you’ll need them to build your new wobbly-walking friend.

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In 1981 a man named John Jameson created a unique walking toy design using a metal flywheel and pivoting legs to create forward motion. The design won a Mattel toy competition and was later patented by the toy manufacturer and tragically shelved (at least for the U.S. market).

With the patent now expired, John’s friend Jeffrey Kerr updated the design to make it friendly for 3D printing. The result is a fully open-sourced 3D printed toy design that can be downloaded from Thingiverse. A step-by-step construction tutorial is available on Instructables.

A visual breakdown of the parts required to build your own Gyroman.
A visual breakdown of the parts required to build your own Gyroman.

What I love most about this project is how Kerr solved the challenge of creating a flywheel to give the toy its centrifugal heft. Instead of separately machining a metal flywheel with the exact weight required, Kerr designed a lightweight 3D printed framework that can be fit with exactly 104 pennies to provide weight.

A close-up of the penny-filled flywheel design used to propel the toy.
A close-up of the penny-filled flywheel design used to propel the toy.

What’s next for Gyroman? We’re already seeing users on Thingiverse adapt the design for different currencies. There’s also a rumor that the original designer, John Jameson, is considering a giant, rideable version of Gyroman. If so, we need to get that thing for Maker Faire, and I’m calling dibs on the first ride.

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I make stuff, play music, and sometimes make stuff that plays music. Fan of donuts, Arduino, BEAM robotics, skateboarding, Buckminster Fuller, and blinking lights.

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