Introduction: Custom Bubble Wands

3D printed custom bubble wands are a great way to make any occasion extra special – AND teach your kids about cool science things like surface tension and how different air temperatures interact.

Both the handle and the bubble 'head' can be customized and made into birthday numbers, names, letters, or any shape you can imagine!

In this instructable, I'll show you how to use a free online browser-based 3D modeling program called Tinkercad to whip up custom bubble wands for your daughter's birthday, your son's Kindergarten graduation, or just for the simple fun of making bubbles.

NOTE: Delight does not have an age cap. ;)

Step 1: Supplies

3D PRINTING SUPPLIES

You can absolutely follow along with this project without actually 3D printing anything (i.e.: you can just do the 3D modeling part), but if you do want to end up with a physical version of your design that you print yourself, here are the tools and supplies you'll need in order to make it.

  • 3D Printer*
  • PLA filament that is the right size for your printer
  • Wide painter's tape
  • Credit card for smoothing out the tape on the print surface
  • Rubbing alcohol or an alcohol based lens cleaner (optional)
  • Sharp chisel (optional)

*To read a great overview of good quality hobby 3D printers – and to find info on where to have your pieces printed if you don't own, or want to own, a 3D printer – read through lesson 1 of JON-A-TRON's Easy 3D Printing Class!

IF you don't have a 3D printer, NOT TO WORRY! There are several online 3D printing service companies like Shapeways and Ponoko that will print your design and mail it to you for a very reasonable price.

BUBBLE SOLUTION SUPPLIES

  • 1 cup liquid dish soap like Joy or Dawn
  • 6 cups distilled water**
  • A clean container that has a lid
  • 1 tablespoon glycerin OR 1/4 cup light corn syrup

**Ions in tap water can effect the quality of the bubbles.

NOTE: You can totes buy your solution instead of making it! Most toy and party stores – and some pharmacies – will stock pre-made solution.

Step 2: Tinkercad Ho!

To design/model this project, we're going to use Tinkercad– a FREE browser-based 3D modeling program by Autodesk – which is very simple to use, even if you're a complete newbie!

NOTE: I won't be covering Tinkercad navigation tools or program functions in this instructable. If you're completely new to the program and either don't know where to start, or are having trouble following along, have a quick read through Lesson 2 of my co-worker JON-A-TRON's Easy 3D Printing Class. It covers everything you need to know to get started from scratch in Tinkercad!

Sign in to Tinkercad and Create New Design

Go to the Tinkercad website and sign in if you already have an account, or sign up if you don't.

Once you're signed in, click on create CREATE NEW DESIGN to generate a new project workplane.

The page will come already named with funny made up words. Highlight the name by clicking on the words and change it to something project related, like Birthday Bubble Wands. (The above image is from my LED Egg Night Light project!)

Now we're ready to model our project!

Step 3: Model Your Bubble Wands From Scratch

Well, almost from scratch! I've provided the STL file for the wand stem in this step, so all you have to do is design/model the bubble wand head and handle.

Download the wand stem STL file (see below) and import it into your Tinkercad workplane.

  • Click on the Import button in the top right corner of the screen.

  • Choose the Wand Stem.stl file that you just downloaded. It will appear on your workplane.

  • Design your wand head using shapes or letters from the shape menus on the right.
  • Place the wand head on top of the wand stem, so that the stem is submerged into the bottom end of the head (It helps to make the wand head transparent to make sure the stem is all the way in).

IMPORTANT: The shape must have at least one fully enclosed hollow section (like the hole in the center of the number 6 above).

If you want to use a number or letter that does not have any fully closed 'loops', like a 5, you can add little connector pieces that are thinner than the width of the letter. Make the connectors 0.5 mm shorter than the main shape and they won't stand out as much, leaving number or letter still legible.

  • Once you've created the head, add a handle shape. It can be ANYTHING! :)

  • Switch to a perspective view so that you can see the height of all three shapes.

  • Adjust the heights of the head and handle to be 2.5 mm.

  • Go to the left or right side view and check to make sure that all your shapes are sitting on the workplane.
  • Raise or lower any shape that needs adjusting.

  • Select all three shapes and ALIGN them by clicking on the center black dot at the skinny end of the shapes.

  • Select all three shapes, group them, and then export them as an .STL file.

The .STL file is what you will use to make your 3D prints.

Step 4: Import Existing Shapes for Bubble Wand Heads and Handles

Almost all the same rules apply for this process, with the exception of how the head or handle design/shape is created. Instead of making your own from the Shapes menus within Tinkercad, you're going to browse on Thingiverse for a shape that you like, download its STL file, and then import it into Tinkercad to be paired with the metal zipper pull HOLE.

Watch the above video for a quick overview of how to find a shape and file on Thingiverse.

Once you've found a shape you want to use for either the head or handle of your bubble wand, click the DOWNLOAD ALL FILES button. This will add the shape's STL file to your downloads folder. Then head back to Tinkercad and your workplane.

I'm just providing a video for this step, as the break down is exactly the same as the last 'from scratch' step. There are just a couple of tips for importing existing shapes from Thingiverse (or elsewhere) and using words/names for the handle:

  • You may need to make minor alterations to an imported shape, as I did for the diamond shape. You may need to remove bits, add bits, or change the size or height. Find the shapes from the menu that best suit the changes you need to make, the way I used a triangle to remove the extra bit and hole meant to go on a key ring.

  • When using words/names for the handle, make sure that the letters overlap and it helps to alternate the heights of the letters by 0.5 mm to keep the letters from blending together and losing their shape.

Step 5: My Wand Files

If you'd like to adapt one of my designs, or print it as is, here are the files!

Step 6: 3D Print Your Wands

Now it's time to 3D print your wands!

Print the bubble wands at: 100% fill and no raft or supports

NOTE: If your having poor results printing tiny details (if any), try building a thin wall around your design before exporting from Tinkercad that is just a smidge bigger and higher than than the top of the wand. To learn why this works and see an example, check out Step 12 of my LED Egg Night Lightinstructable.

TIP: Use a sharp chisel or razor blade to carefully lift and remove the wands from the build plate.

If you've never 3D printed before, read through Lessons 3 & 4 of my co-worker JON-A-TRON's free Easy 3D Printing class. He takes you step-by-step through the process of slicing and printing.

Step 7: Buy or Make Your Bubble Solution

    You can definitely buy bubble solution at most toy stores and pharmacies that have a toy section, but if you'd prefer to make your own, here's a great recipe:

    • 1 cup liquid dish soap like Joy or Dawn
    • 6 cups distilled water**
    • A clean container that has a lid
    • 1 tablespoon glycerin OR 1/4 cup light corn syrup

    **The ions in tap water can effect the quality of the bubbles.

    NOTE: Although you can use the solution right away and still produce fine bubbles, some bubble experts believe that leaving the solution overnight before using it makes the bubbles stronger. I couldn't find any science to support this, but if you have the time, it can't hurt to try it!

    (Also, if you know why this might help, please let us know in the comments section below!)

    Step 8: Let the Fun (and Science) Begin!

    Remember that the bubble solution will leave a soapy residue on everything the bubbles burst on, so I definitely recommend blowing bubbles outside.

    A few fun science facts that you can share with your bubble makers are:

    • The colder it is outside, the higher a bubble can fly. That’s because the warm air from your breath that you use to blow the bubbles is lighter than the colder outdoor air.
    • Bubbles pop when the water layer between the inner and outer soap layers evaporates, so bubbles will last longer the cooler the temperature outside it.

    For even more science tidbits about bubbles, check out this great article from www.kidsdiscover.com.

    Have fun out there and happy making!

    -Paige

    Comments

    Treasure Tabby (author)2017-10-23

    Great for party favours for a child's birthday. :)

    You bet! :D

    Donald Bell (author)2017-10-23

    Cute! And a good low-volume project for using up old filament.

    That's a great tip Donald! :D

    About This Instructable

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    Bio: Made in Canada, I grew up crafting, making, and baking. Out of this love for designing and creating, I pursued a BFA in product design ... More »
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