Introduction: 3D Printed Business Cards

About: I am an architect & tech freak, traveling around the world when I am not drawing or 3D printing.

A story of the business cards that will never fit inside your wallet, but they will surely stick in everyone’s minds. Or on their desks. Creativity is always remembered…

The best part of entering 3D printing world is that you find yourself surrounded by new materials. And you always feel the need to test and discover their textures, composition, smell. You start wondering how they could be modified, reshaped, combined with other materials and even technologies and what reactions will inspire when finally modeled. As a maker you begin understanding step by step how everything around you is structured and you feel the impulse to increase the value of all things.

If you have a business in 3D printing / laser cutting industry there is a lot of room in improving especially your image on the market by showing people the quality of your prints / services just by handing them over a business card out of standards.

For our personalized business cards, we combined laser cutting & engraving and, of course, 3D printing.

What you need:

  • a computer with a digital modeling software installed (3D Studio Max, Rhinoceros, Catia, Autocad, SketchUp, blender or similar) to model the object for 3D printing;
  • an illustration / graphics software like CorelDRAW for preparing the files for laser cutting the acrylic parts;
  • a 3D printer (we printed them by using UP Plus 2 And Flashforge Creator Pro with frosty white ABS) or access to such a service;
  • a laser cutter and engraver for the acrylic parts or access to such a service;
  • a piece of paper and lots of INSPIRATION !!!

Step 1: Sketching Time!

We took a piece of paper, wrote the keywords / characteristics of our future business cards:

  1. services quality
  2. materials used
  3. utility
  4. uniqueness
  5. connection to the event
  6. price

And started drawing them by thinking to combine 3D printed parts with Plexiglas acrylic parts that could be independent and change them as we like. We also found inspiration in the theme of the event we were going to participate to: a 3D printing event in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Arabic traditional motifs for the decoration.

Step 2: Preparing Files for Laser Cutting & Engraving

The main part of the business card is a transparent Plexiglas Acrylic sheet (3 mm thick) laser cut & engraved.

It is very easy to design it and prepare it for the laser by using CorelDRAW (or Autocad and import it afterwards). Open a new file, draw some rectangles or squares with the dimensions of your choice, add them one next to the other for cutting(check to not have double lines because the laser would pass twice in that spot) and write inside those shapes your contact details that are going to be engraved.

The contact details and the margins of the Plexiglas should be in different layers / colors so people offering laser cutting services could easily use your files with the laser by having a clear difference between the parts that need to be cut and the ones that need to be engraved.

Step 3: Modeling the Printed Parts

For the frame part

We used Rhinoceros to draw a 3 sided frame with H profile (that would surround the acrylic part). Have always in mind the dimensions you chose for the acrylic part, because it should fit inside this frame. The interior (lower side) of the H should allow the 3mm Plexiglas sheet to easily slide in and the upper side would let the slider of the decoration to enter (details, lower on this step).

Be very careful with the 3D printing tolerances: in order to make the Plexiglas part fit the interior of the H, the empty part of the H should have .1 - .2 mm more than the thickness of the Plexiglas.

For the decoration part

We drew a flower, extruded it (2 mm) and placed it on a slider that could easily enter the exterior sides of the H frame. It can always be changed with another decoration, fit for another event.

Be very careful with the 3D printing tolerances: in order to make the decoration slider fit the exterior of the H, the empty part of the H should have .1 - .2 mm more than the thickness of this decoration slider.

Step 4: Preparing Files for 3D Printing

The object that will be 3D printed needs to be modeled as ONE mesh. If the elements composing the object are not well united between them the printer will fail to print it as one piece or it might have other errors.

To verify your 3D model use a free software like Netfabb that will correct your mesh and help you print quality parts.

Step 5: And Finally... Assembling All Parts

If you were careful with the 3D printed parts tolerance and all dimensions, the Plexiglas acrylic part should slide inside the frame while the decoration should slide the outside of the frame.

In case they don't, you have our .stl files attached (they are fit with a 85 x 33 x 3 mm Plexiglass part). ;) The files are available for PERSONAL USE only and ready to print.

The cool part is that you can always replace any of the parts at any time: if you don't like the decoration anymore you can replace it with another one and keep the 3D printframe and acrylic part; if your contact data expired, you can keep the frame and decoration and just replace the acrylic. It's all up to you! :)

In this way, you will have some pretty nice, personalized 3D printed business cards.

Step 6: Contact Us!

About the business cards: Being highly appreciated on 3D Printing Club on Facebook, we decided to write this tutorial so everyone could have them for free / reduced costs.

If you need any further help, you can find us on I am DESIGN am I or on Printare 3D Bucuresti | Prototipare rapida.

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