I keep a flashlight on my bedside table. It's super bright and it's great if you need some quick light when waking up during the night. But when your eyes are adjusted to the darkness and you need to use the flashlight, turning it on can be like looking into the sun.
I wanted a decorative way to store the flashlight that would also act as a lampshade. There are a few criteria it had to meet. The flashlight had to be stored with the light pointing down because the button had to be accessible and because its the most stable way to have the flashlight stand up on its own. It also needed to be easily removable but at the same time have a tight fit, so that light would only be able to pass through the lampshade portion.
My girlfriend recently bought me a Robo 3D R1 printer, and I knew this would be the perfect application for it. Less than 24 hours later, I had a flashlight stand that also functioned as a lamp.
Step 1: Materials
-3D Design Software (I used Tinkercad)
-Your favorite color of filament
If you don't have a 3D printer, I've included the STL file, which you can download and send to a 3d printing service. In that case, all you'll need is the correct size flashlight.
Step 2: Measuring
You're going to want to make sure that the opening of your lampshade is the same size or slightly smaller than the lens of your flashlight. The opening is what the flashlight will be resting on and it will also be what the light is shining through. If you make it too small, the flashlight will be unbalanced, and very easy to knock over. It will also cause the light to shine outside the shade, which defeats the purpose of this project altogether. On the other hand, if you make the opening too large, the flashlight will just sit inside the lampshade.
Measure the lens and take note to also measure the depth of any lip that might protrude from around the lens. We will design a cap with the same size, so that when the flashlight is docked, the cap will fill that empty space for a snug fit.
Those 2 measurements are the only ones we need. The third measurement, which will be the height, is simply a personal preference.
Note: Although I live in the US I took all my measurements in millimeters. Because metric units are standard in 3D printing and in most of the software (and because the metric system is awesome!).
Step 3: Design
If you have never designed anything in 3D before, I highly recommend Tinkercad. It's incredibly easy to use and to learn, and there are step by step lessons right inside the software that tell you what to click and where to place objects. I found these really helpful. It's a fairly basic tool, but more than enough for what we're doing here.
The design of this piece is very straightforward. I took a cone, added a cylinder the same size as my lip measurements, and cut off the top.
Step 4: Building Your Shape
Since the lens of my flashlight measured 54mm I created a cylinder that was also 54mm. When I rest the flashlight on a flat surface, the fins prevent the lens from touching that surface. Mine are about 12mm long, so I set the height of the cylinder to 12mm.
Step 5: The Cone
Once you have the top piece the correct size you can build the cone. Decide how big you want your base. I roughly estimated how much space I wanted this to take up on my nightstand and measured that to be 150mm. Then I made the base of the cone 150mm.
Now you can place your cylinder on your cone. Position it to your liking. Once you've done that, select all your objects and use the Group command to turn them into a single object.
Step 6: Cut Off the Top
Since we don't want a pointy top, we need to remove it. An easy way to to that is to create a new cylinder and place it over the part you want to cut off.
Then use the Hole command to delete any part of your object that the cylinder is touching.
Step 7: Done! (maybe)
Here it is! Your customized shape is complete! You can export it as an .stl file and print it! You could also send it to someone else to print for you.
BUT WAIT!!, before you print it there are a few important settings you'll need to choose on your 3D printer before you print. That's because we want this to be a hollow shape. Making this solid plastic is an incredible waste, would probably take days to print. You could always make it a solid shape and use infill, but that would block most, if not all of the light from coming out. So again, we want to make sure this prints as more of a vase.
To do that, here are the settings we need to adjust.
Bottom layers: 3 (You can change this if you want more, but 3 works well)
Top layers: 0 (This must be zero or your printer will try to cover the top hole)
Infill: 0 (This must also be zero or your printer will fill the empty space)
Outside shells: 2 or 3 layers is fine
Step 8: Test Print
To make sure all your settings are correct, print a small test print at 0.25 scale. This only took about 15 minutes and gives a perfect representation of our final product. You might notice that this test print looks a little different. That's because I decided to spice mine up a little bit before I went full scale. Here's how:
Step 9: Getting Fancy
After designing this, I realized that I was basically building a vase. I knew there were many customizable vase applications out there, so I wanted to see how easy it would be to make a little fancier version of this lamp. Turns out it was really easy. Go here and enter in a few parameters. Make the top the same size as your flashlight lens. Then adjust the rest of the parameters to your liking and check the preview. When you have something you like, save the .stl!
I took the generated file and added a small cap on top. That's the test print you see in the previous photos.
Step 10: Go Full Scale!
Now it's finally time to print! My full scale print took about 4 hours at 0.3mm layer thickness.
Now I've got a sturdy place to keep my flashlight that also functions as a lamp, and the flashlight can be removed quickly without any trouble, and put back just as easily. Let me know if you have any questions about anything!
Oh and if you make one for yourself please post pictures!