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Tired of 3D-printing guns? How about printing something that encourages life?

This birdhouse is the entry/donation from my daughter and me to the annual Birdhouse Display and Benefit Auction, May 24-June 2, 2013, at The Arboretum in Lexington, KY, http://www.ca.uky.edu/arboretum/. Some of you might recall https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-the-bird-house/ from two years ago, a rather large wooden "bird house" that had entrances in the holes of the letters "b" and "d." Well, that was too wordy. This one looks like a road sign with pictographs for bird and house -- with the entrance in the house pictograph. We call it "A Sign." And it is a sign in another way too -- it is a sign that 3D printing has come of age, because this birdhouse is 3D-printed. Yes, the whole thing. Only a few folks have made 100% 3D-printed birdhouses, and this is probably the largest built thus far.

Now, you don't have to 3D print yours -- it isn't all that hard to make a good approximation to this with wood and paint, or simply to print the front decoration and glue that to a wooden birdhouse, and all those options are discussed -- but this is designed to take advantage of some of the things a cheap, environmentally-friendly PLA-extruding, 3D printer can do. It's huge as 3D prints go, and is a bit of a torture test for your printer's calibration, but the one shown here was printed in less than a day using no more than $15 worth of material. It was painted, rather than printed using the appropriate PLA colors, because we felt the paint would help protect and extend the life of the PLA material.

My daughter had the idea of making this year's birdhouse a sign, I created the design, it was printed in my lab at the University of Kentucky (http://aggregate.org), and my daughter and I finished it together. The basic sign shape and layout follow http://www.roadtrafficsigns.com/. The caricatured bird image was inspired by the wearable pendant design at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:47032, and the house image is a lot like many found in WWW searches. It didn't take long for me to create the 2D decoration image using gimp. Inkscape was then used to vectorize the image. The 2D design was then extruded as a component of my 3D model of the sign-shaped birdhouse using OpenSCAD.

All the design files, including a customizer version of the OpenSCAD file, were originally posted at: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:92431 ; in addition, as of July 14, 2013, there is an improved 3rd version posted at: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:117929 .


Step 1: How Much 3D printing Are You Willing To Do?

Before we jump into building "A Sign," it's worth noting there are several different ways to build variations on this birdhouse design. Which you should build depends mostly on the toys to which you have access:
  • Big-enough, well-calibrated, 3D printer: Go ahead -- you can print the whole thing. We made ours on a MakerGear M2, which is a very solid machine with a 8"x10"x8" build area, but about half the current crop of 3D printers have sufficient print volumes. The design can be scaled-down to fit a build plate as small as about 5"x5".
  • 3D printer with issues: Print just the front decoration (see step 3) and glue it onto a conventionally-built birdhouse. This greatly reduces the 3D print volume and makes the print short enough so that printers with layer misalignment issues should still be ok.
  • No 3D printer: Conventionally build the birdhouse out of wood (see step 4). You can decorate it using cut vinyl, a stencil, or freehand painting. A programmable paper cutter makes cutting the vinyl or stencil easy.
Yes, you also could build it using laser cutter, a CNC mill, ceramic, or even Legos for that matter. I'll only detail the few construction methods described above. ;-)

The design files intended for 3D printing also can be used as dimensioned drawings to guide non-3D-printed construction of the birdhouse.  You'll probably want to simplify things a bit; for example, changing the fancy vent slots into some drilled holes should be fine for a hand-built  wooden version of the birdhouse, and the bottom clean-out can be replaced by making the back plate removable via screws.

Love your style - awesome!
Impressive design :D!
Cute design! If you like you can enter it in my <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Birds-a-little-challengecontest/" rel="nofollow">bird challenge</a>
How do I enter it? The bird challenge isn't showing-up in the &quot;add to contests&quot; list...?
I'ts not an official contest, it's just a user (me) contest. Occasionally people like me get the urge to have a contest and they usually tolerate it. But since you contacted me, I will add your entry, thank you!
Wonderful design.
excellent guide

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Bio: I'm an Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor at the University of Kentucky. I'm probably best known for things I've done involving Linux ... More »
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