Revolutionizing Science Communication — With 3D-Printed Jewelry

Two years into their postdocs, Idoya Lahortiga and Luk Cox formalized their collaborative projects in science communication in 2010; thus was born somersault18:24. Over the years, their work has grown tremendously; the numbers speak for themselves: somersault has a following of over half a million on Facebook. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to encapsulate what exactly they do–the defining nature of somersault is in that they defy definition. Their mission and goal encapsulates the unifying ideology behind their diverse work:

“We believe that tools for science communication and education should be as free as possible, easy to share, and accessible for everyone.”

Luk and Idoya balance a full-time workload as scientific illustrators for large journals such as Haematologica with their various, unique projects. Among their foremost projects is the enormous repository of resources full of icon sets, illustrations/infographics, and entire libraries of 3D renders. They generously provide these under a pay-what-you-want philosophy, especially considering some of these tools are worth upwards of 100 euros. These resources have been downloaded almost 4000 times with about 1 euro per download in matching donations–far from breaking even.

However, the somersault team’s newest and coolest project has provided a new stream of money that they channel toward paying for these resources: they create science-inspired jewelry. For each piece they sell, $5 goes to the platform.

The catchy ideas is to “wear your passion for science.” Printed from 3D-models in materials such as gold and silver, the jewelry is minimalist and neat–ranging from the delicate looking phylogenetic tree necklace, to the classic neuron-shaped pendant. As Idoya and Luk write on Shapeways, “3D printing is a disruptive technology, it allows you to spread awareness about almost anything, including science.”

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