Introduction: Mini 3D Printed Saucer for Under Your Mini Planter/Pot
There are these mini succulents I bought at a flea market that I've been wanting to put into a ceramic planters so they look a little nicer. I finally found some cute basic mini pots that are the perfect size but I haven't been able to find mini saucers to put under them. The saucers are quasi necessary if you don't want a mess every time you water those suckers!
Of course, me being me with my 3D modeling know how and my home 3D printer I thought I might as well make them. If you don't have a home printer worry not, there are places you can have them made for fairly cheap.
I'm going to use the program Autodesk 123D Design in this tutorial so more of you folks can DIY, as the program is free and runs on older computers.
- Ruler, measuring tape, or calipers (with millimeter markings)
- Computer that runs 123D Design (system requirements at the bottom of this page http://www.123dapp.com/design)
- Autodesk 123D Design (http://www.123dapp.com/design)
- Three button mouse with rolling wheel
- Home 3D printer OR use of a service provider such as 3D Hubs (check their site for local pickup options) or Shapeways, Ponoko, Sculpteo etc to print the item out for you.
- Clear waterproof sealant such as non-toxic Polyurethane varnish to waterproof the saucer and paintbrush (optional but highly recommended)
You're going to need to download Autodesk 123D Design (http://www.123dapp.com/design). Creating an Autodesk account isn't necessary, but does come with features such as saving your designs in the cloud and pre-made 3D models to add to your designs.
This version of 123D Design is v 2.0.16 so just note that future iterations of this program may have somewhat different commands. All commands are on a PC.
Step 1: Measure Your Pot / Planter
In order to make the saucer the correct size we have to make sure to get the measurements of the planter you're making it for.
Measure the diameter of bottom of your planter / pot. I will be using millimeters throughout this tutorial. My mini pot is 40 mm in diameter on the bottom.
Step 2: Sketch the Base Circle and Offset It Twice
Open 123D Design and sign in with your Autodesk account. The program by default will have you working in millimeters.
Remember this is not an exact science and you can go back and redo anything!
Click on the viewing cube in the upper right corner and select the top view.
Create a circle that's the size of the bottom of your planter. In my case 40 mm in diameter. In the tool bar go to Sketch>Sketch Circle. Left-click on the plane, left-click where the center of the circle will be. Type 40 and left-click again to set it at 40 mm. Press Esc.
Decide how much room around the planter there ought to be. I think an additional 1cm/10mm around the bottom of the pot makes sense. Go to the menu to Sketch>Offset then left-click on edge of the circle you made to choose it. With your mouse arrow somewhere outside the circle type 10 and press Enter. Now you have a circle that gives a 10 mm clearance to the original circle.
At this point we don't need the original circle so left-click to select it, it will be highlighted in black, then press Delete/Del.
Now to think about how thick we want the saucer to be. Since it's on my home printer out of a plastic material it won't be too detailed so thicker is probably better, I'm going to go with 3 mm thick. Of course as with all things you can do trial and error, but of course that's much easier if you have a home printer or access to one.
I'm going to repeat the previous process of Sketch>Offset but this time will type 3 and Enter.
Step 3: The Third Dimension
Now to bring these sketches into the third dimension! Sounds fancy doesn't it?
Left-click into the center of the circle, which will highlight only the interior circle. Hovering your mouse arrow over the little grey gear icon will show options that include Extrude. Click on the Extrude icon and press 3 then Enter. This means the very bottom of the saucer will be 3mm thick.
I've decided the edges of my saucer will be 10 mm high from the inside, so I added on the thickness of the bottom, therefore 13 mm. Left-click into the area that surrounds the smaller circle, highlighting the outer area, then again go to the gear icon and select Extrude. This time type 13 then press Enter.
Bring your mouse to the viewing cube (upper right corner) hold down on the left mouse button while hovering over it and move your mouse around to see what we've created so far. You can also hold down the right mouse button in the middle "canvas" area of the screen to rotate, and use the middle mouse wheel to zoom in and out. Holding down the middle mouse button can move the canvas around without rotating.
As it is we could print it and have it functional, but I want to tweak a couple things and add a little decoration.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
Since it's such a small object and I'm going to be printing at low resolution the following details don't matter too much, but at higher resolution and for bigger objects they would matter more.
We are going to use the Fillet command, this command smooths out the transition between two areas that connect. In this case we are rounding off the interior edge of the saucer since tight angles are harder to clean. Left-click on the bottom interior line in the planter, you may need to adjust the viewing angle to get the selection correct. Once you select it a few options will come up under the grey gear icon. We want to choose the Fillet option. On the bottom it will ask how much we want to fillet, type in 3 and it will show you how that would look, as with everything else feel free to try it differently than I, but I'm going to stick with a 3 mm transition. Press Enter.
Now, to add a little polish to the design we're also going to use the Fillet command on the other hard angles. the outer bottom as well as the inner and outer top. For the outer bottom I'll Fillet 2 mm and for the inner and outer top 1 mm each. Selection of the edges can sometimes be fidgety, so there's the option of going to the tool bar and choosing Modify>Fillet and then more easily selecting the edge.
If you like the plain design skip ahead to the steps where we export the design into a 3D file. In this step we will add a little design details using spheres.
Step 5: Optional Ornamental Details Part 1
Click on the Top view on the viewing cube. Go to Primitives>Sphere and click on the rim of the saucer, type in 1.5 as the radius of the sphere since the rim of the saucer is 3 mm and either left click or press Enter. Left-click on the sphere until it's highlighted in green, towards the bottom a new tool bar will appear. Choose the Move icon and use the arrows to center it on the rim. When it looks about right press Enter.
Go to the Front view and again choose the Sphere and the Move icon and move the Sphere down so that at least a third of it intersects the rim of the saucer.
Step 6: Optional Ornamental Details Part 2
Get back to the Top view on the viewing cube. Go to Pattern>Circular Pattern
Left-click on the sphere as the Solid then click on the Axis in the pop up box. For the Axis click near the center of the saucer and the circular pattern will go around the edge.
Choose the number of times you want the pattern to repeat, I went with 28, but you can put different numbers in, rotate it to see how it will look, and change the number as desired.
Step 7: Export the 3D Model Into a File
Go to the top left hand corner menu to Export to 3D>STL
A window will pop up that says Mesh Tessellation Setting. Here you can choose how rough or smooth your model will be. If you need a small file choose Course, but Fine is a better option especially if you have your 3D model printed on a higher resolution machine. After choosing the smooth option make sure the Combine Objects box is checked.
Save the STL file to a place on your computer that you'll be able to find it. Also remember to save your 3D file either to the cloud or on your computer.
Now either upload the 3D file to a service website and order the 3D print or if you have access to a home printer print it out!
Once printed there's the option of further waterproofing the saucer to make absolutely sure water won't seep out of the print. Just get a brush and clear waterproof varnish and coat the inside of the 3D print.