Introduction: 3D-printed Scale Model of EUR Pallet (made of Wood-based Filament)
There is a certain fascination we have regarding miniatures and caricatures of real-life objects. Seeing and holding a scale model always creates smiles. Therefore we wanted to honour an unsung object which does a great donkey-work carrying goods all over the world - The pallet!
To further give this object a more realistic appearance we used a wood fiber based plastic filament for 3D printers. Its characteristics are very similar to real wood and it also yields a very nice wood-like surface.
Step 1: The 3D Model of the Pallet
There are many different standards, types and sizes of pallets. We chose to make a copy of the EUR pallet measuring 1200 x 800 mm (47.2 x 31.5 inches). A full specification of the standard can be found in this article on Wikipedia.
To start making your own copy of the pallet with a 3D printer, you need to download the ready-made 3D files in this step. The contents of each file are explained as follows:
- EUR 1-pallet (full-size) 800 mm × 1200 mm (3D print plate).stl - A full-size version of the EUR pallet with all the boards fattened out side-by-side. If you have a 3D printer that can print this file in one go you can count yourself very lucky! ;)
EUR 1-pallet (full-size) 800 mm × 1200 mm (assembled).stl - This is the full-size assembled version of the pallet. All the boards are seamlessly joint together to form a water-tight volume which is perfect for 3D printing.
EUR 1-pallet (scale-model) 80 mm × 120 mm - Scale 1-10 (3D print plate).stl - This is most probably the version of the pallet for you to 3D print, where all the boards are flattened out side-by-side. The scale is a tenth of the real object's size.
EUR 1-pallet (scale-model) 80 mm × 120 mm - Scale 1-10 (assembled).stl - This is the scaled-down version of the assembled pallet. The size is a tenth of the real object's dimension.
EUR 1-pallet 800 mm × 1200 mm.stp - For people who use CAD software and want to be able to load a file of the EUR pallet which is easy to work with and modify.
Step 2: 3D Printing the Pallet
For the 3D printing we used a MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D printer. Its heated build plate facilitates 3D printing experimental materials which different material properties - such as contraction during or after 3D print. The LayWoo material turned out to be very stable and easy to print, exerting very low or no shrink forces.
The print values where the same as one normally uses for most 3D prints, such as follows:
- Four bottom solid layers
- Two perimeters
- 20% infill
- 6 top solid layers
- 0.2 mm layer height
The total time to 3D print the build plate for the EUR pallet was 2 hours and 13 minutes.
Each kind of plastic filament for 3D printers can have different compressibility values. Meaning that some oozing happens whenever the extruder needs to stop extruding, move the nozzle to a different place, and then continue to extrude.
The typical symptom for oozing are hair-like string threads between the different islands of the STL file. This can be adjusted in most 3D printing software. The values to change for instance in a custom profile in MakerBot MakerWare are called "retractDistance" and "retractRate". Increasing these values reduces the oozing of plastic when the extruder travels but does not extrude.
Step 3: Touching Up the 3D Printed Boards
Removing the parts from the 3D printers build plate is very easy. Just use a sharp-edged straight palette knife (such as the one in this Instructable about removing 3D prints from the build plate).
For speed and simplicity we chose not to make a customised profile with expanded retraction. Instead we simply accept the stringy bits and cut them of with a sharp knife.
Step 4: Assembling the Top Boards of the EUR Pallet
To keep things square we used the inside of a wooden box and placed the boards for the top part of the pallet in place. For glue we used standard wood glue (PVA-based), which bonded nicely to the LayWood 3D print filament.
A standard moped lead battery served nicely as weight to keep the boards in place while the glue dried.
Step 5: Assembling the Bottom Boards of the EUR Pallet
After the glue dried we placed the top boards of the pallet in place. To hold them down in place we used two sponges weighted down by the acrylic build plate of a Replicator 2 3D printer with a 1 kg spool of filament on top.
Step 6: The Final Assembled Miniature Pallet
Here are some images of the final result! Being a scale-model it has that special "cuteness" which everyone appreciates. It can be used as a decorative model or why not as a stand for your mobile phone or a coaster to put your drink on!
Make sure you download the model and 3D print your own version. Remember that you can always use the original 1:1 scale version and 3D print it at your preferred miniature scale.
For more information about EUR pallets check out this Wikipedia article.
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