3D Printed Planter W/Tinkercad




Introduction: 3D Printed Planter W/Tinkercad

I have always enjoyed the contests that come up here on Instructables. I use them as inspiration and motivation to come up with new and fun things to make. I noticed that Tinkercad was part of the planter challenge. I have never use Tinkercad before and decided to take this challenge to design an awesome planter.

...so this is my first attempt at Tinkercad and I hope it might give someone a fun experience following what I have done as I did designing this planter. As a beginner to Tinkercad I direct my thoughts to those like me and ask those with experience to help. For those interested, I have included the STL file. As requested, here is the link to the model in Tinkercad: https://www.tinkercad.com/things/gHQFEPPIRgk

Step 1: Design Inspiration, Tips and Base Shape

Googling "planters" or "3d printed planters" floods the image results with all kinds of cool and interesting designs. The look that stood out to me most in these images was the plants themselves. Succulents and small cacti have a nice geometric shape with just enough curve that stand out to me. This is what I wanted to emulate in my design. As the design formed in my head I kept thinking of origami. This thought helped me complete the design I finished with.

As stated before I will be using Tinkercad. My first impression of this app was how simple it is was to use. After watching a couple of videos I felt comfortable to dive right into it.

A couple of things I noticed that helped me when starting out this design was first changing the units you will work with. Metric is the default unit for Tinkercad. To change this to inches(imperial), locate the button "edit grid" in the lower right of the workplane screen. There you can change the size of the workplane and units used. For my design I used inches with a 11.81" x 11.81"(300mm x 300mm) workplane, which is the size of the print bed on my 3d printer.

Make use of the snap grid to line objects up to others. There is an align tool, that I will cover later, that can help with lining objects up but for times when you need an object in a odd place the snap helps. You can change this under the edit grid button.

I found as an afterthought, changing the color of the shapes as I brought them in would help make sense of where everything is especially with a large complex design.

With a design in mind, start breaking it down into the basic shapes to add and to cut away with. If there is a shape you don't see in the pallet, find combinations of shapes to get the desired shape. This is what I needed to do.

For my design start with a sphere by dragging and dropping from the pallet of shapes to the workplane. Selecting a shape in the workplane with bring up handles used to size the shape. Click one of the corners and dimensions will show. Enter 6" for both the length and width of the sphere. Click the handle near the top of the sphere and change this to 3.5". This will be the starting point of the planter.

The window that shows up when you select a shape will give you the option to change the color as a solid object or change it to a hole used to remove from the design. More on that later. For spherical shapes there is a slider where you can change the "steps". This will change how my faces make up the curve of the sphere. I changed this to 24 to get a smoother curve.

Step 2: First Layer of "Hole Shape"

All that is needed for the design is to start cutting away shapes until the final design is left. A single shape can be used to cut away the outer design by starting with the roof shape. Pull the shape onto the workplane and change this shape to a hole. Now use the rotate handle to spin the shape on the X or Y-axis so the point is down. Change the dimension to 3"W x 6"L x 3.5"H.

Now to align the 2 shapes so they are centered on each other. Select both shapes by shift left clicking them. The align tool will now be available in the upper right side. It looks like 2 small rectangles with a line to the left of them. When selected, the align tool will bring up several black dots on a grid. when you hover over one of the dots it will preview how the shapes will align. The basic concept is left will align the left sides, center will align the centers of the shapes, etc. For this design, align the centers of both sides. Do not worry about the alignment up and down.

To complete the first cut the roof shape will need to be duplicated. Make sure just the roof is selected and click the duplicate button located in the upper left side, it looks like a stack of 3 squares. This will create a copy of the selected shape in the same place. Now use the rotate handle to turn the copy 90 degrees to one side or the other. It should spin in the center.

With both roof shapes as holes select all shapes to make the first cut. Now select the group button in the upper right that looks like a square and circle merging. This will combine all the shapes into one removing anything that intersects the hole shapes.

To complete this first layer, create another sphere with dimensions 5.5"W x 5.5"L x 3.25"H. Change this to a hole. Using the arrow at the top of the shape move the whole shape up 1/4". Use the align to to center the 2 shapes within each other. Group them together to cut the new sphere from the first shape.

This is the first layer that will be used to cut away the outer design.

Step 3: Second Layer of "Hole Shape"

This second layer will be removed from the first to make up what is need to create the outer design of the planter.

Move the first layer off to the side somewhere while you work on the second layer. Repeat the same steps to from the first layer to create the second layer with the following size changes. Start with a sphere that is 5.75"W x 5.75"L x 3.375"H. The 2 roof shapes will be 3"W x 5.75"L x 3.375"H. The second sphere used to cut the center out will be 5.5"W x 5.5"L x 3.25"H and moved up .125".

With the second layer created, rotate it 45 degrees left or right on the z-axis. Change to a hole.

Create another sphere that is 5.75"W x 5.75"L x 3.375"H. Center align this sphere with the second layer and group them together. If you get any thin stripes over the area that was meant to be cut out you may need to double check that the second layer is 5.75W x 5.75L. Change the resulting shape to a hole and raise it up .125".

Center align the first and second layer and group them together and change this resulting shape to a hole.

Step 4: Finishing the Design

Create yet another sphere that is 6"W x 6"L x 3.5"H. Center align the 2 shapes on your workplane and group them together. This gives you the outer profile of the planter.

For a stable bottom bring in a cylinder and make it 6"W x 6"L x 1/4"H and change this to a hole. Center align with the planter and group them together. Move the planter down 1/4" to be flat on the workplane.

To create the bowl inside the planter bring in your last sphere(I promise!) that is 5.25"W x 5.25"L x 3"H. Move the sphere up .375". Change this to a hole and... you guest it, center align and group. You will not see the result of this group until you cut a hole through the top. Bring in a cylinder that is 3.5"W x 3.5"L x 2"H. Move this up about 2" and change to a hole. Preform the last center align and group. The planter model is finished.

Step 5: 3D Printing

I will briefly explain how I 3D printed my planter:

After export my design to an STL file I opened it in Cura to create the g-code for printing. If you are curious what settings I used they will be in the pictures with this step.

The printer I have is a CR-10 which is my first and am still learning just what I can do with it. I prepped the bed for printing and started the long print. You can see from the Cura picture it estimated over 25 hours for the print. My printer ended at 28 hours. I really liked the look of the white with the cati.

Thank you for your interest in my instructable and would love your vote in the planter challenge if you feel my design is worthy.

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    Question 1 year ago on Step 5

    What do you estimate the cost of materials to be? I keep wondering if i should consider buying a printer. Decent planters are getting more and more expensive. It would be nice to be able to print a pot that has the plants needs in mind.
    Also do you know if the material is stable in sunlight and if it would last outdoors.
    Thanks, for sharing that is a very nice planter, that if i saw on a shelf I would really consider buying.
    Good luck and have a wonder time with your printer.

    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    4 years ago

    Looks like a fun design! I see you have the file, but do you also have a link to the Tinkercad post?


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thank you for your comment. I have added the link into the intro.