Instructables

Creating Personalised 3D Printed Napkin Rings/Place Cards

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My Fiancee and I are getting married soon, and we wanted something a bit different for the wedding reception. I've just bought a 3D printer and was unsuccessfully trying to justify its usefulness to her, when luckily she came up with the idea of creating customised napkin rings for everybody instead of using Place Cards!

We'll have maybe 100 guests, so creating that many individual 3D objects could be a nightmare. What we need is a way to automate it!

This instructable will show you how to quickly and easily create hundreds of 3D printed Napkin rings for everybody using completely free software. It could easily be changed to make other types of objects too...

(Please excuse the 3D print quality in the pictures - I'm still getting used to the printer!)

Step 1: What you need

Picture of What you need
First off, the obvious bit - you need access to a 3D printer, or to be happy to use one of the many websites that will print off a model for you.

I bought a SUMPOD (www.sumpod.com),  because it was cheap, sturdy, and made in England, not very far from where I live. This is like most of the 3D printers you can buy now (MakerBot, UltiMaker, Printrbot) in that it prints upwards in layers using extruded ABS or PLA plastic.

On the software side, I'm using Linux as the Operating System. All the software below is available for Windows and Mac too, but it may be more of a hassle to install it.

OpenSCAD (www.openscad.org)
ImageMagick (www.imagemagick.org)
PoTrace (potrace.sourceforge.net)
pstoedit (www.pstoedit.net)
Bash (comes with Linux and Mac, on Windows you might need MinGW : www.mingw.org)

On Ubuntu Linux, all you need to do is type the following command to install everything:

sudo apt-get install openscad imagemagick potrace pstoedit

On other operating systems you'll probably have to do a lot of googling!

You could always try using a Ubuntu Live CD (http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop) to boot up Ubuntu Temporarily and try this out. It's probably a lot easier than the alternatives!
 
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Tinkercad2 years ago
Hi gfwilliams!

Tinkercad here. Congrats on your engagement and WOW! This is going to be some wedding!

We read that there were some issues with joining. If you'd like to post the link to your design, we'll take a look, or send us an email: team@tinkercad.com.


Best,
Tinkercad Team
gfwilliams (author)  Tinkercad2 years ago
I've just tried again with TinkerCad and it now appears to join everything just fine. Thanks, it's an awesome tool. I'm amazed how quickly everybody picks it up, even those completely new to 3D!
Sweet. Good to hear =)

We are always impressed, too! It's amazing how changing the design of what is normally a very complex tool making it more user-friendly allows everyone to use it!

Hope to see more of your designs soon.
Argh you linux uses and your dam code. :]
gfwilliams (author)  The Cartographer2 years ago
Problem is, you can't easily do this kind of thing quickly without scripts or a specially made program! Once you have a napkin ring in OpenSCAD, the actual code to automate it is only maybe 10-15 lines of simple scripting - a small price to pay for being able to knock hundreds of personalised 3D prints out!
And that's why coding and script will always be important.
I'm thinking about trying to learn a computer language to add to my repertoire, but I'm not really sure with one. Python seems good, especially because it can be used in Blender. But I'm terrible at learning languages :[ so should I read a lot of books about it or looking into learning C++ or some similar base language?
gfwilliams (author)  The Cartographer2 years ago
It really depends what you want to do... If you just want to automate tasks and build from there then Python is a really good idea... Once you get in the mindset of not being willing to do repetitive point and click tasks yourself then using a computer suddenly becomes a whole load faster and more satisfying!

It'll also be a good step to Raspberry PI (or writing code on other embedded devices, such as ReadyNAS).

I'd say Java was worth a look at. With Eclipse it's got a great IDE that warns you of programming errors as if they were spelling mistakes, the language itself is simple, and it has a good debugger (stepping through code is a great way to help you learn). You're also 90% of the way to writing Android apps, and it's actually quite similar to JavaScript, and a 'nice' subset of C++.

C++ is great, but unforgiving. It's dead easy to get into bad habits and do things which will cause your code to inexplicably not work or to gobble up memory, and the extra speed it provides really isn't that important for most tasks on PCs now. It'll either make you love programming or completely demotivate you :) To be honest I wouldn't recommend it unless you wanted a career in computing...