Itis is a sheet metal bacteriophage. Once Berkeley's Jacobs Makerspace got a FabLight metal laser cutter, I got curious about fun things to make. Inspired by small, bent emblem made by on-staff designer Adam Hutz, I started thinking about platonic solids. I realized that the head of a bacteriophage is just an icosohedron. I could easily make a net of that, so I did and added a body to it. My girlfriend, a biologist, nicknamed the design "Itis."  I think it's pretty cool.

Version 1

The original itis communicated the idea, but it didn't feel good to hold. The use of single, centered tabs for bending the icosahedron and the unfilleted edges made it hurt to hold. My chocie to not deburr the edges didn't help either. Plus, this used cold-rolled steel (not stainless), so Itis rusted over time.

Version 2

I added a few key features to the second itis. I moved the tabs on the icosahedral faces to the edges, which meant there were fewer exposed corners to poke hands. Filleting all the major corners and switching to stainless steel lends a better feel against the hands. 

secondary functionality


In nature, bacteriophages may infect bacteria with viral DNA. Incidentally, Itis' hollow design means it can simulate this effect, at least a little bit, by carrying custom messages inside the hollow body cavity. Here's one example.

Layout & Manufacturing

I cut Itis on a FabLight laser cutter in the Jacobs makerspace at UC Berkeley. The Fablight uses a fiber laser that can output pulses between 1500 and 4500 watts. After lasercutting, I bent my net using pliers and my fingers.


Here's what the design file looks like. If you want to cut one for yourself, contact me and I can send you a .dxf of the outline.