Curta was considered as the best pocket calculator, a mobile tool to calculate simple mathematical equations, up to the arrival of the electric calculator. Owing to the 3D-printing skill of Charlotte, North Carolina-based software engineer Marcus Wu, the cylindrical, slider-based Curta lives again.
While talking to Digital Trends, Wu told:
“When I first got my 3D printer, I sent a message to my brother asking if there was anything he could think of for me to make. I didn’t want to print off the kind of tiny knickknacks that most people print; I wanted to do something different. My younger brother suggested making a mechanical counter. Through the research on what that might mean, he discovered a video describing how the Curta works. I was immediately fascinated. As soon as I saw the video, I began planning out how it would be possible to 3D print something like that.”
All the challenges faced by Wu during the creation of his 3:1 scale model, 3D-printed Curta using a gMax 1.5 3D printer has been described as a subsequent process by him on his blog. This grand project took about 18 months to complete because of its scale as it required the printing of 240 different parts, along with 100 extra unprinted pieces like screws and ball bearings.
On October 8, the completed piece will be exhibited at the Charlotte Mini Maker Faire. Sooner or later, people who want to build their own Curta can also profit from Wu’s hard work. As he stated:
“I will be making the files available. I haven’t done that yet because there are certain aspects of the Curta that require you to make specific tools to put them together. There’s a whole process I’m going to have to write up in a tutorial. The files themselves wouldn’t be terribly useful without the additional information. I didn’t just want to release the files and leave people scratching their heads. I wanted to really give people everything they need to build a Curta of their own, start to finish.”