This 3D printed hourglass should get a design award!

The beauty of the sand-hourglass is the way you see the sand travel grain by grain downwards. It’s pretty, no doubt, but from an experience level, it gives you the basic idea of a minute, and nothing more. You can’t count down the minute because the sand’s flow is continuous, not broken up into seconds, and more importantly, if you take your eyes off the hourglass, there’s no way of knowing when the minute is up. It’s purely a visual experience.

The Chrolo, on the other hand, is a sheer work of art and a feat of engineering. It also plugs all the experience gaps you’d face with the sand-vial hourglass. The 3D printed structure provides a path for a ball-bearing to slide down, step by step, utilizing gravity just like the sand-hourglass does… but each individual slide accounts for a single second (so there are 59 slides in total), and every time the ball-bearing drops from one slide to another, it makes a tick sound that mimics a clock, so you can count down the seconds as you go. It also means you don’t need to keep your eye on the hourglass as it operates.

The ball-bearing takes exactly 60 seconds to complete its downward journey, indicating the completion of a full minute. It furthers its audio-visual experience with a brass ring at the bottom, which the ball collides against after 59 ticks. The collision results in a satisfying ‘ting’sound, indicating the completion of a minute. If you want to add more minutes, just repeat the process by adding another ball bearing at the top the minute you hear the ‘ting’!

The Chrolo’s intricate, engineered-to-precision design is made entirely through STL 3D-printing (where a resin is cured using UV light), which ensures that each part is built accurately, without the need to sand, prime, or paint the product afterward. Its spiral-staircase shape comes after multiple iterations (initial concepts looked like a regular flight of steps). The spiral staircase was arrived at after multiple iterations. It occupies a smaller amount of space while also giving the ball-bearing a literal journey to go through. It’s fun to watch the ball-bearing go to and fro, almost like a pendulum, on each stair before dropping with a satisfying ‘tick’ sound. I can’t think of a more beautiful, multisensorial, and apt way to indicate the passing of a minute!

Designer: Sparkpluck