New App and 3D-Printed Construction Kit Make Design Easier

Alexis Baghdadi, Jun 30 2015

A crowdfunding campaign has just been launched on Kickstarter to help develop a design app for a construction kit that combines 3D-printed objects with … regular hexagonal pencils.

QalamSila is the MENA's first construction game that combines both 3D printing and mechanical assembly. It was developed in Lebanon and manufactured locally using 3D printing technology. Its concept is simple enough: kids and adults can put together pencils to build structures and models using a variety of 3D-printed connectors.

Lego building blocks and Meccano sets are cool and everything, but with 3D printing there are virtually limitless possibilities to explore. The construction set combines modern aesthetic design with the creative energy of children (and adults), and the app will allow more people to experiment with the QalamSila design process on their smartphone.

The kit’s creators opted for a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to engage potential users of the app early on and create a buzz about it in the tech world.

Locally Made, Locally Available

QalamSila was developed in 2014 by Rapid Manufactory, a Beirut-based company owned by Guillaume Crédoz, an architect, maker, and 3D printing pioneer.

The connectors are 3D printed on-site at TheBAKERY, a 3D printing hub managed by Crédoz that serves as a workshop, store, and research center. The material used in their manufacturing is an eco-friendly plastic (polyamide) 100% made from plants (castor oil), and fully bio-degradable.

Ready-to-assemble kits (including connectors, pencils, and instructions) propose model bulldozers, planes, and buggies. They are currently sold at TheBAKERY, as well as at the National Museum of Beirut’s boutique and other design stores in the capital.


QalamSila 1.0: Anybody Can Be a Designer

However, Crédoz says the possibilities are infinitely more interesting when imagining and building one’s own objects. In addition to the sets, more than 100 different connectors (including gears, wheels and spring motors) are also sold separately and can be used to build virtually anything with pencils.

A lot of thinking went into developing this apparently simple construction game. It started in 2013 when Crédoz imagined a fun and versatile construction game. The result was QalamSila, whose name is coined from the Arabic terms “qalam” and “sila” (pencil and connection).

The construction pieces can be used to create both simple and challenging 3D objects. Both seasoned artists/designers and kids can experiment with creative designs using them.

A Learning and Prototyping Tool

Kids can use QalamSila pieces to become more familiar with 3D spatial geometry. Crédoz said one school in Lebanon is buying a full library of the kit pieces to use it as a support for geometry classes.

QalamSila has a huge prototyping potential for engineers as well. It can serve to build structures for robots, machines, and other automated applications.

Check out the video below to discover the full potential of the kit and app:


QalamSila 2.0: A Fully Functional Digitized Kit

The app will take QalamSila to the next level. The app will be free and available for iOS and Android systems. It will give users access to the growing library of connectors, thus enabling them to create their own designs manually, edit their properties, and save them on the Cloud. This gives it the characteristics of a dynamic library of 3D designs, created with user-generated content.

The payoff is that the app allows users to place an order once their design is complete. When Rapid Manufactory receives an order, it will 3D print the needed parts and ship them to users (with the option of including quality wooden pencils for an extra charge).

Custom designs are priced in Q-Units, based on the amount of connectors and – optionally – pencils used. Shipping costs are also priced in Q-Units. 1 Q-Unit is the price of 1 wooden pencil or 1 very simple QalamSila connector. The price of connectors depends on their size and complexity. The app updates assembly costs in real time during editing, so users can budget it, then purchase Q-Units as needed.

During the crowdfunding campaign, backers who help fund the QalamSila 2.0 app on Kickstarter can purchase Q-Units in advance and also receive gift items and other perks.

See related: Lebanon Builds the MENA’s Biggest 3D Printer


Catch up on what you've missed