Introduction: LED Lit Suspended Planter

About: Always tinkering with my 3D printer. Trying to explore useful and fun possibilities of the machine. Instagram: @joppe.spaans Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/JoppeSpaans/

So since I live in a fairly small sized studio, it's nice to use space in the vertical direction as well. A ceiling can be a bit boring apart from lighting so I wanted a metal wire across my ceiling to hang some decorative stuff from. First of all, that would be a planter.

I had to idea of wrapping around a hanging plant around the wire to let it grow in either direction. To add something extra I wanted to add a light source in the planter.

The planter parts and the two parts that attach the steel wire to the ceiling were 3D printed in this project.

Supplies

Materials I used:

- PETg filament, white and translucent.

- A led light cord, I used Vissvass from a certain local small Swedish home interior mall with a blue and yellow logo if I remember correctly.

- A plant with some decent liking of hanging and/or climbing. I used Ceropegia woodii, also better known as String of Hearts.

- A couple of m3 bolts and nuts.

- Stainless steel wire, I used 2mm diameter.

- Some kind of wire, string or tiewraps to hang up the planter to the steel wire.

Tools I used:

- 3D printer.
- Hot glue gun.
- Alan key/screwdriver.
- Creme brulee burner or small drill.

Step 1: 3D Design in Fusion 360

I wanted to make the planter out of two shells. The outer one transparent and a smaller, opaque inner shell. In between there had to be enough space to stuff the led light cord.

I used Fusion 360 for the Cad design of the planter. I wanted to create a bit of an elongated shape that would be able to hang from a steel wire on two sides and still be balanced. I experimented a lot with strange shapes and came up with something that looked a bit shaped like an axe and would break up the light interestingly enough.

Since the outer shell needed to get light through it, I decided it needed to be printed in spiralize mode, printing it in one continuous motion, printing only one outer perimeter. I wanted it to print in one go and the design had to be printable without supports so big overhangs couldn't be done.

I built up the planer from a couple of simple extrudes on top of each other with different angled drafts. Finished it off with some chamfers.

The outer shell was created by shelling the inner shell to the outside with an offset of 5mm.

The attachment pieces for screwing the steel wire to the ceiling were created in Solidworks. It is a simple piece with a hole for the screw and an insert for a m3 nut.

Step 2: 3D Print Parts

Planter

The files I made are available on Thingiverse:

Planter shells

For the outer shell of the planter I used translucent recycled PET filament.


The inner shell is printed with a white PET-g. It's nice to have a watertight inner shell so I printed it with a fairly big nozzle in vase or spiralize mode. This creates the best result on my printer with a nice, even printed wall that's thick enough to hold it's shape properly. I used a 1mm nozzle to do this. Spiralizing prints often have a neat result, even on cheapy printers like mine and all common slicers support it under the name spiralize or vase mode.

The prints turned out fairly sturdy to the touch. Printing the outer shell in spiralize mode also means that the light will break up more evenly when it passes through, throughout the whole print.

It's a good idea to check if the inner shell is watertight. If not, you could try to seal the leaks with paint, lacquer or some kind of hardening filler.

Steel wire attachment

The file is available on Thingiverse:

Wire wall connection

To connect the steel wire to a ceiling or a wall, you could get all kinds of convenient thingies from the hardware store to get the job done. However I like to think that I can make custom stuff for a current need so I designed and printed my own. You want a strong part so use a good quality filament with good mechanical properties.
I used a PETg for this again, this time a bit translucent.

Step 3: Adding Lights and Assembly

So after everything is printed it's time for attaching the led cord to the inner shell.

To make it easier to wrap the cord around the sharp edges without it sliding away, I wanted indents for the LED chain to sit in.
For this, I firstly made little crevasses along the outer sharp edges of the inner shell with a small screwdriver and a creme brulee burner. I could have implanted these shapes in the 3D model but was a bit worried it might sacrifice the water tightness.

Once the crevasses were created, the cord was wrapped around the shell en secured with dots of hot glue.
It's allright to make it a little messy but keep it tight to the shell. Once the outer shell is placed over it, it's not clearly visible anyways. Check if it still fits inside of the outer shell from time to time.

It's nice to pay attention to the placement of the LED's over the shell and have some good overall coverage.

Once it's all wrapped, check if the LED chain still functions, it is possible to accidentally melt the the insulator around the wires and cause a shortage.
If it's all good, it's time to assemble the outer shell over the inner one. For this, I melted four holes in the inner and outer shell with a little heated up hex key to fit 4 m3 hex bolts. Correctly line up the holes carefully.

If the little bolts are placed, the inner shell should float nicely in the outer one.

Step 4: Suspending Steel Wire

Since I can't drill in my walls, there are a couple of conveniently placed wooden slats especially meant for attaching photo frames, curtain rails and such.

Decide where you want to suspend your steel wire from and how much length you need to cut off.

The end of the steel wire can be put through the printed part over the length of it. Insert a m3 nut and bolt the wire down using a small bolt.

One one end of my room I screwed a hook in the high end of the wall. On the other side the wire attachment was screwed in the ceiling.

If one side is attached, you can use the other one to put some tension on the wire.

Again, use a good and strong filament if you decide to print one of these or just check out the local hardware store to get the best part that suits your needs.

Step 5: Planting and Hanging Everything on the Steel Wire

Once everything is assembled and checked it's time to pot the plant of your choice!
I used a string of hearts and made sure to carefully re-pot it and fill the outstretching triangle shapes with earth.

It can be a bit messy so and getting a lot of earth in between the shells can ruin the effect a bit. I used tape to temporarily close the top gap between the shells whilst re-potting.

Once the plant is safely and cozy in the pot it can be hung on the steel wire. I used a couple of tiewraps to attach the pot from the m3 bolts to the wire. Not the prettiest solution but works fine and using the right color, it blends right in.

To spread out the plant nicely throughout your room over time, let it grow and wrap it around the steel wire.

Step 6: Enjoy!

I ran the power line from the LED chain along the steel wire out of sight. You could also use the LED lights to run along the wire if you need more length.

Taking care of the plant over time pays off since it will spread out. However the growth could be limited by the volume of the planter. A bigger scaled 3D printer could help make the plant roots have more space.

Soooo that's all for now! Enjoy creating.

More of my stuff can be found on:

Thingiverse

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Etsy

Indoor Plants Challenge

Third Prize in the
Indoor Plants Challenge