3D Printed Watch Band

Introduction: 3D Printed Watch Band

For my intermediate project I decided to create my own custom watch bands that will attach to my apple watch. This was an enjoyable project that allowed me to use my creativity to design something that is aesthetically pleasing to me.

Step 1: Create Your Design

In order to create your wonderful custom watch bands, you have to have an idea that you would like to make. I used tinkercad, a free online 3D design and 3D printing app for everyone, to make my designs. The idea could simply be a unique design of simple shapes or you can search thingiverse.com and find a copious amount of wonderful items that have already been converted into an stl file (which is preferred for 3D printing). You can then import those stl files and insert them on your watch band however you would like creating a unique personalized touch.

Step 2: Gather Items

In order to create your watch band you will need these items if you do not already have them:

  • 3D Printer
  • Flexible Filament
  • Connectors

Step 3: Begin 3D Printing

This process will likely not be entirely correct on the first print. There will be a learning curve with your 3D printer and the design you have created; the more complex the design is, the more problems you are likely to face. With how small the watch band is, it is difficult to get a great amount of detail into your design and for it to come out as you'd like so it is better to start basic and slowly become more complex.

The biggest problems that I've had from designing and printing were the holes on the ends of each band and printing 3D files flat on the watch. The holes on each side of the band did not always come out as a hole like the design had intended. When there was no hole in the band I had to heat a thin needle and thread it through the plastic to create a hole. When printing 3D objects the detail was too fine and it came out more as an unidentifiable mess. A solution I found was to convert the 3D file into a two dimensional file and that was more successful for printing.

For my prints, I used a layer thickness of .20mm, an infill of 20%, with no raft or support. I would recommend using a small amount of infill because the less infill there is, the more flexible the band will be.

Step 4: Paint Your Band

Once you have finished with your print and you are happy with the outcome, you can begin painting your watch band. Acrylic paint applies well to the filament and I would recommend applying some type of finishing coat on top of the band because the paint will chip over time with use.

As you can see with the pictures above I attempted 2 different designs; a simple design and a more complex design. For my first design I painted the band white with a blue gradient on the hexagons. For my second design I tried to create a European theme. On the purple and red band, I tried to create a band that reminded me of Florence, Italy with the Duomo, city emblem, and the local soccer team badge, but as you can see the design did not come out as I had intended. For the other part of that band I went with a "Midnight in Paris" theme, which was not my original intention, but I had adjusted to with the Eiffel Tower, moon, and stars.

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