Introduction: Digital Manufacturing - 3D Printed Box Project

About: Fixer, Finder, Fabricator. I teach engineering to high school students, at St Marys Secondary College in Nathalia VIC Australia

Designing a project to send to a 3d printer requires a different approach to a project that requires laser cutting, but is not to difficult as long as you remember few points

  • 3D printing has limitations on size cannot be too big or have parts that too small with no support.
  • Projects with large overhangs and sharp corners can cause problems.
  • Support material and raft can be difficult to remove and needs to have some thought in the design process.
  • Parts that fit together like the lid, do need some clearance.
  • Projects needs to exported as a STL file
  • On Prodesktop you cannot import a STL file

If you look carefully at the box you can see some of these problems as this design has pushed the printer to the limit in some respects. First the lid is very thin so was very difficult to remove from the raft in one piece. You can see some damage.
Also the slot where the lid fits had support material that had to be removed, this also was very difficult as it was trapped in the slot.
much of this could be avoided if the lid was a little thicker, and the slot a little bigger

If you haven't seen project one, take a look as it covers where to get the Prodesktop, how to activate the software, how to navigate the screen, what you will need and the mouse functions.

Digital Manufacturing - project one Key tag

Digital Manufacturing - project two desk name plate

Digital Manufacturing - project four laser cut box

Digital Manufacturing - project five printed toy car

As computer tutorials don't translate to text very well, for this series of instructables most of the info is in the photos. So click on the first photo and use the arrows to go to the next photo. The boxes in the photos show the location of the icons and have have text in them when you hover the mouse on them.

Step 1: Learning Intentions and Success Criteria

Learning Intentions

  • To work safely in the workshop
  • To improve my understanding of how the CAD software works
  • To operate a laser cutter
  • To be a self-directed learner

Success Criteria

  • I understand the safety rules and I am working safely in the workshop.
  • I can follow the instructions independently.
  • I can produce 3D CAD drawings and convert them to an STL file.
  • I can produce an assembly drawing.
  • I can produce a photo album drawing of my project.
  • I can operate a 3D printer safely and work safely in the workshop.

Step 2: Designing for the 3D Printer

This project is based on the wooden pencil box and I took the measurements from the box and scaled it down, to create a miniature version. You can take this approach or you can draw your project full size, you just have to make sure that it will fit on the printer before you start, or you will end up having to scale it down anyway.

Before we start it is important to create workplanes correctly...   select face/ workplane/ new sketch/ give your sketch an name/ draw
if you can remember that you will find this easy.

As always with this  series of instructables click on the photo to start

Step 3: Designing the Lid

The lid has to be designed in a new drawing and sometimes it is helpful do make an enginneering drawing of parts of your project before you start the design for the next part. This is so you can check measurements and saves writing things down on scraps of paper that can get lost  and typos etc.
I found that when using a laser cutter you can cut a 10mm hole and a 10mm disc and it will fit together perfectly. But when you do this on a 3D printer this is not the case (well not on the one that I use) You may need to give the parts some clearance or you may find that they are either a very tight fit, or do not fit at all.
This is why the lid is a little smaller than the hole it has to fit in.

click on the photos to begin

Step 4: Assembling Drawing to Check for Errors

Assembling the parts of your project is the best way to check for problems or oversights and gives you a good idea of what the finished product will look like.
Sometime you will find that if you make a mistake it is easier to delete the component from the drawing and add it again.

Click on the photos to  begin..

Step 5: Engineering Drawing

Engineering drawings are great if you are making your project  in the traditional way (hand tools and timber)  and can be exported as a JPG,  bitmap or dxf file to email,  post on a website or printed off on paper.

Click on the photos to start

Step 6: Photo Album

The photo album feature is great for showing off your work. You can spend a lot of time playing with colour, views, material, backgrounds, refection, camera lens just to name a few.
Here are some basic commands to get you started.
just be aware the Zoom works differently in photo album, you have to use the icons on the right

click on the photo......

Step 7: Using the 3D Printer and Removing the Raft

If you don't have a 3D printer you can hire one quite cheaply just email them your STL file and they will post your project back to you.
There are several places that can do this for you the most  well known is probably shapeways
If you have an Up printer here's how to print your project. The software shown in this step comes with the Up  printer.
Removing the raft can be difficult and time consuming depending on your project, the more you rush it the more likely you are going to cut yourself or damage the project. There are a number of videos on you tube on the subject if you need more help.

removing the raft

click on the photos to start
UP! Contest

Participated in the
UP! Contest

Pocket Sized Contest

Participated in the
Pocket Sized Contest