Journal of Applied Mathematics
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 268537, 34 pages
Research Article

Towards a Prototype of a Spherical Tippe Top

1Howest, ELIT, University College West Flanders, G. K. De Goedelaan 5, 8500 Kortrijk, Belgium
2Department of Mathematical Analysis, Research Group NaM2, University of Ghent, Galglaan 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
3Department of Architecture, Sint-Lucas Visual Arts, Institute for Higher Education in the Sciences and the Arts, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
4Howest, Industrial Design Center, University College West Flanders, Marksesteenweg 58, 8500 Kortrijk, Belgium

Received 14 April 2011; Revised 6 October 2011; Accepted 7 October 2011

Academic Editor: Yuri Sotskov

Copyright © 2012 M. C. Ciocci et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Among spinning objects, the tippe top exhibits one of the most bizarre and counterintuitive behaviours. The commercially available tippe tops basically consist of a section of a sphere with a rod. After spinning on its rounded body, the top flips over and continues spinning on the stem. The commonly used simplified mathematical model for the tippe top is a sphere whose mass distribution is axially but not spherically symmetric, spinning on a flat surface subject to a small friction force that is due to sliding. Three main different dynamical behaviours are distinguished: tipping, nontipping, hanging, that is, the top rises but converges to an intermediate state instead of rising all the way to the vertical state. Subclasses according to the stability of relative equilibria can further be distinguished. Our concern is the degree of confidence in the mathematical model predictions, we applied 3D printing and rapid prototyping to manufacture a “3-in-1 toy” that could catch the three main characteristics defining the three main groups in the classification of spherical tippe tops as mentioned above. We propose three designs. This “toy” is suitable to validate the mathematical model qualitatively and quantitatively.