Create you own Customizable box, which you can use as a Lamp or a Pen Stand by 3D printing post it size pieces, using images or simple drawing you/your kids have drawn and with the help of 3D design software by Autodesk called 123D design.

You can use the customizable box as

  • Pen stand
  • Hanging lamp, ideal for the kids room as a night light.
  • Modifying your old lamp
  • As a message board to leave reminder for folks at home
  • A box to store stuff
  • A Lantern as shown in the video above that you can carry around
  • Or just a decor item showing off you kids drawings
  • Gift it you friend/cousin on their birthday with their name and birth date on the 3D printed Post-it

If you can think of any other use case , please leave a comment below..

This tutorial written keeping in mind that you are new to 123D Design.

And if you have used 123D Design before you may want to refer the first part from Step 1 to 12 of this instructable shows a simple technique to convert your images/drawing into 3D prints.

For details on how to design the ribs for the frame and base refer to Step 25 to 39.

Step 1: Drawing and Taking a Picture

Draw a picture on a post it using a sharpie or a marker

Or you can use any paper, try and use black over white for best results.

Take a picture in good light conditions and download it on your Mac, in my case i used my iPhone and the USB cable to the Mac.

Step 2: Saving the Image in PNG Format

Open the image using the Preview App on you Mac.

Crop the image .

And save the image as a PNG - using File > Export option in the preview app as shown in the screen shot above.

Note : You need to convert the image from a JPEG to a PNG so that you can use the Instant Alpha which is part of the Image Preview App

Step 3: Editing the Image

Open the PNG file you just exported in the preview App

Use the Instant Alpha to highlight the back ground to remove the background using the delete key on your keyboard

You may have to do this multiple times , in my case i had to perform this 3 times to remove the back ground and then remove bottom circle and then the top of the snow man.

One you only have black line remaining go ahead and hit File >> Save, to save the PNG

Step 4: Breaking the Continuity of the Drawing

Now since you are going to 3D print and hollow the dark line as shown in the final 3D printed Snow man you will have break the continuity of the drawing.

To do this use the Rectangular selection tool as show in the picture above.

Depending on your image use this multiple times to add continuity, in my case I had to use it once for the head and the second time for the bottom circle and a another between the head and the bottom circle .

Step 5: Converting the Image to SVG Format

Now use the following link to convert the edited PNG image to an SVG format.Basically we need the image in SVG format to import it into 123D design.

Follow the link below


#1 Upload you file to the site

#2 Choose the Monochrome Option

#3 in the DPI text box enter 800

#4 and then hit the convert file button and the svg file will save to your Mac.

Note: You may have to use a higher value for the DPI if you have a lot o lines or intersections in your image.

Step 6: Sketch a Rectangle in 123D Design

Download 123D design using the following link http://www.123dapp.com/design

Measure the size of the Post-it using a vernier calipers, which is about 76mm

Open 123D design and draw a square using the Sketch Rectangle as shown in the screen shot above

First you will have to select the surface to draw on which is called the Grid

And then drag your mouse and you should see a rectangle being drawn

Before clicking on the grid one more time enter the dimension as 76 length, hit the tab and enter 76 for width as show in the screen shot above.


  • It is always a good idea to use a 3 Button mouse instead of a touch pad on your laptop which will give you better control in 123D design
  • It is also a good idea to buy a digital vernier calipers if you plan to design using 123D or any other 3D printing software.Basically using a digital vernier calipers make it easy to measure the diameter of circular things and the length of curved objects.

Step 7: Importing the Svg Formatted to 123D

Using the drop down as show in the picture above import the SVG file as a Sketch.

Once you import the SVG you should see the grid kind of expand with the sketch of the snow man to the left of the screen and the square that you drew on the grid to the far right.

Note : I have attached the SnowMan_Drawing.gif so that you can download it and give it a try.

Step 8: Scale the Imported to Sketch

Since the snow man sketch is large you will have to scale down the sketch to the square box

Use the Scale tool as show in the screen shot above

Scale the image down uniformly to about 0.2.

Step 9: Move the Sketch on the Post-it Size Rectange

Now use the Move Tool as shown in the screen shot above to move the snow man close to the 76X76 square which drew earlier , and then finally move the snow man to the square

Note : You have have to scale the snow man again if it does not fit the size of the post it.

Step 10: Extrude the Rectangular Box to 1mm

Now in the Construct tool box choose the extrude tool as show in the screen shot above

Click the square box and type in 1 for 1mm height using your keyboard

Before you move to the new step use the "Pan" tool and show in the third screen shot and hold the left click of your mouse to go to the bottom of your grid. You'll need to do this to have access to snow man sketch which is at the bottom.

Step 11: Extrude the SnowMan Pieces

Once you have managed to get to the bottom of the grid select the area of the sketch and then select the extrude option as shown in the second screen shot

Type in 1.3 using your keyboard, which will hollow the part of the sketch you have selected.

In the similar way hollow the other part of the sketch including the eyes and the nose of the snow man.

Step 12: Saving to STL File

Save the 3D design to a STL file using the menu at the left hand side as shown in the screen shot above.

Basically an STL file describes a raw unstructured triangulated surface by the unit normal and vertices
(ordered by the right-hand rule) of the triangles using a three-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system.

For more info follow the wiki link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STL_%28file_format%29

Step 13: Adding STL File to 3D Printing Software

Now open you 3D printing software that your 3D printer supports and use to print.

In my case i am using the Printrbot Simple Metal which use Repetier-Host as a software to 3D print the STL files.

Use the Add STL button to add the STL file as shown in the screen shots above

Step 14: Slicing the STL File

Now use the Slice with Slic3r button to slice the file as show in the screen shot above, this will generate the G-Code.

Basically Slic3r is the tool you need to convert a digital 3D model into printing instructions for your 3D printer. It cuts the model into horizontal slices (layers), generates toolpaths to fill them and calculates the amount of material to be extruded.

Note : Time taken to Slice is about 4 seconds

Step 15: Printing the File

Load the filament into your 3D printer extruder , in my case i am using HATCHBOX 1.75 mm PLA filament.

Now on your Mac Click the Run button to start printing.

Note: Time taken to print was about 12 mins.

Step 16: Print the Frame of the Lamp

Here are the STL files for the frames of the Lamp

Make another copy of each of the STL files and Load the files into your printer software as show in the screen shot above.

Hit the Auto Position button so that each part is spaced out from another.

Slice using Slic3r and then hit the Run button to print.

If you plan to design the ribs yourself using 123D design jump to step 25.

Note : Slicing takes a couple of second and time taken to print is about 35 mins.

Step 17: Print the Base and Lid of the Lamp

Depending on the purpose, you plan to use the Cutomizable box for chose the appropriate base.

Say you want use the box as a pen stand download the basePenStand.stl file and print it.Or if you want to use it as Lamp use the base_bulbHolder.stl

In addition print the top lid.

Note : The base takes about 35-45 mins to print depending on the base_....stl file you download.And the top_lid.stl takes about 25 mins to print.

Step 18: Super Glue the Ribs of the Frame

Once you have print the ribs of the frame super glue them together

Before you super glue all the 4mm rib to the 6mm ribs, insert them into the base to decide on which surface of the 6mm rib the 4mm rib needs to be super glued.

Step 19: Putting the Lamp Together

Once you have 3D printed at-least another four more Post-it size STL files you are ready to put the customizable box together

Follow the video above , basically insert the ribs into the base and then insert the 3D printed post-it's into the ribs, and finally cover it up with the lid.

Step 20: Adding a Bulb/Color Changing

Now if you have an old ikea Lamp at home remove the shade of the Lamp and replace it with you customizable box as shown in the video.

If you are having a house party use a LED color changing party bulb as show in the video above which you can find at you local hardware store.

Safety tip : Use a bulb that does not dissipate a lot of heat or this could melt the customizable box.

Step 21: Using Customizable Lamp As a Pen Stand

One of the most simplest things that you can use the customizable box is to use it as a pen stand

3D Print the base_PenStand.stl and using four 3D printed post-it's.

If you plan to make this a permanent fixture super glue the lid and the ribs.

Step 22: Hanging the Lamp

If you want to use the Lamp as a hanging night lamp in your kids room use a Snap-in Candelabra base socket and a Night light as shown in the Video above.

Remember to change the orientation of your 3D printed post-it as you will be hanging the Lamp up-side down.

Step 23: Using It As a Latern

Now say if you want to use the customizable box as a lantern as part of your halloween costume which you can carry around, use a color changing LED with a coin cell battery which you can get at your local electrical store for a few dollars and some string which you can thread through the holes in the 6mm rib.

In my case I salvaged a color changing LED from an old toy and used a USB battery pack to power it up..

3D print a two more 4mm rib pieces if required so that you can use it to hold the access wire.

Step 24: More Post-it STL Files

Here are few post-it size STL files you can use to complete your Lamp/Pen stand, in case you run out of ideas.

- Snow Man

-Instructable bot - to make this I took a picture of the instructable sticker and then had to use a little Photoshop magic before saving it to a png and following the steps detailed earlier.

-Christmas Tree

- 2015

- Snow flake

Step 25: Creating the 4mm Rib Using 123D Design

Draw a rough sketch on piece of paper and decide on the dimensions,here it is a good idea to use a Vernier Caliper to get a feel of the dimension like the thinness of the rib and measure the thickness of the string.

As show in the rough sketch above you will need to follow the steps below to create the 4mm rib

  • draw a rectangle with dimensions of 76mmX2mm (here your choosing 2mm as your 3D printed post it is about 1mm thick and it will have to slide through the rib)
  • Offset this rectangle by 2mm outside
  • draw another rectangle just below the the offset'ed rectangle with dimension 7mmX6mm
  • Offset this rectangle by 2 mm inwards
  • then using the sketch > Polyline tool draw the 2 lines between inner rectangle and the offset rectangle
  • Finally extrude the inner 76mmX2mm to 2mm and the other offset to 4mm and the bottom box to 4mm.
  • Save the design and export to an STL file

Step 26: 4mm Rib - Draw a Rectangle

Open 123D design

Draw a rectangle using Sketch > Sketch Rectangle tool as shown in the screen shot above

click the grid to select and then drag your mouse

Enter the dimensions using your keyboard Length = 76 mm which is the size of your post it and 2mm as the width so that the 1mm thick post-it 3D printed piece an slide through

Step 27: 4mm Rib - Offset the Rectangle

Use the pan tool on the right as show in the screen shot above to move your grid using your mouse if your rectangle is not in the center of the screen

you can use the scroll button on your mouse to magnify the grid

Now use the sketch > offset show in the second screen shot

click on the rectangle and move you mouse outward and then type 2mm

Step 28: 4mm Rib - Draw the Bottom Rectangle

To draw the rectangle at the bottom use the Sketch > Sketch Rectangle

Then select on end of the offset'ed rectangle from the previous step and drag your mouse outwards

For the length type 7mm and hit tab and type 6mm for the width

Step 29: 4mm Rib - Offset Bottom Rectangle Inwards

Now using the Sketch > Offset select the inner rectangle and move your mouse inwards

Type in 2mm as shown in the image above

Step 30: 4mm Rib - Drawing 2 Lines Between the Rectangles

Using the Pan tool on the right of the 123D app move grid to the right

Select the Sketch > Ployline tool

Select the inner edge of the rectangle and then connect it to the other edge or you can just type in 2 as shown in the second screen shot above

Select the inner edge and connect it to the outer rectangle.

Step 31: Rib 4mm- Extruding

Select the inner rectangle , once you do so you should see the sliding menu popup as shown in the screen shot above , from this select select the extrude highlighted in red

Extrude to 2mm by typing in 2 followed by the enter key

Similarly extrude the offset'ed rectangle to 4mm as shown in the third screen shot

and also extrude the bottom offset'ed rectangle to 4mm.

Step 32: 4mm Rib : Saving the File and Exporting to STL

Now using the Menu to the right save you file to the hard disk of your computer, I choose to name mine "4mmRib_CustomBox.123dx"

Once done using the menu and shown in the second screen shot export the file to STL , some thing that the 3D printing software understands.

Step 33: Creating the 6mm Rib

To create the 6mm rib you can make a copy of the "4mmRib_CustomBox.123dx" and rename it to "6mmRib_CustomBox.123dx" and follow these high level steps

Deleted the extrude part

extrude the inner rectangle to 2mm

the offset'ed rectangle to 6mm

and bottom offset'ed rectangle to 10mm which will give stability and will act as a stand.

Step 34: 6mm Rib - Renaming the File

Using the Menu on the left as show in the screen shot save the "4mmRib_CustomBox.123dx" again as "6mmRib_CustomBox.123dx" .

Step 35: 6mm Rib - Delete the Extruded

Select the extrude part as shown in the screen shot above and use the delete button on your key board

Ensure that you are selecting the extrusion from the top before hitting delete and check that the schematic below remains as is.

Step 36: 6mm Rib - Extruding

Click the inner rectangle and select the extrude option as show in the first screen shot and type in 2 to extrude to 2mm.

Similarly extrude the offset'ed rectangle to 6mm

And the bottom rectangle to 10mm

Step 37: 6mm Rib - Save and Export to STL

Using the menu on the left had side save the changes to your computer

Once saved use the export STL to save design into an STL file

Step 38: Creating the Base

To create the base you will have to first print 4 pieces of the 4 mm rib and 4pieces of the 6mm rib.

In addition you will also need print at-least 4 post-it size STL files

Now put it all together as shown in the picture above a use a vernier caliper to note down the measurements

Draw the rectangles and extrude staring from the center rectangle outwards.

Attached is the123dx base file for the Pen Stand Base , which you can refer to compare your measurements.

Step 39: Creating Top Lid

For the Lid you can use the same method as we used to extrude the 6mm rib from the 4mm rib schematic

Here you will need to offset then inner rectangle by 4mm.

Attached is the123dx Lid file, which you can refer to compare your measurements.

<p>Ahh, I have been using 123D Design for about 6 months now and the SVG image import is something that I never used until I saw this post..This is a great idea so that I can leave my signature on the 3D printed parts , on the similar lines that painter do..:)</p>
<p><a href="https://www.instructables.com/member/prabhakar.vulasala/" rel="nofollow" style="">prabhakar.vulasala</a> Thanks for the comment and yes, signature on the 3D printed part is a great use case for this ible..</p>
<p>This is a nice instructable well written with lots of pictures. It makes it easy to follow. The video is a great. It make a nice night lamp for my kids and makes a nice party lamp. </p>
<p><a href="https://www.instructables.com/member/SonikaJAnand/" rel="nofollow" style="">SonikaJAnand</a> , thanks for the comment and yes the longest Instructable I have written till now, Please post a picture if you get to making something similar or use the technique above .. Thanks </p>
Awesome!!! I want lamp n pen stand both :)

About This Instructable




Bio: Born as a farmer , studied electronics ,working as a Consultant and a 3D printing enthusiast by night..
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