Introduction: 3D Printed Utility Desk Shelf! - Video

While living in tiny a dorm room you learn one trick right away - you have to use your vertical space!

To make use of a living space with small area you it's absolutely necessary to stack your items. This produces a challenge if you need a decent working area.

I, like most college students, picked up my furniture from IKEA. While my desk certainly was cheap it's somewhat lacking in working space. My computer would take up most of the desk which left little room for reading and note taking books.

This is the challenge I set out to solve!

I'm going to show you how to make your very own smart desk extender!

It's a clever solution where you get an level on your desk for your laptop, pens and other items to keep close, and even a second monitor.

This is also adds some smarts to your desk with utility features! The Smart Desk Space Extender comes with a phone grip and headset hook - both of which hovers your items above your desk. It also comes with cable managers making it easier to keep all cables out of your way!

The desk extender parts are 3D printed meaning you'll be using a robot to upgrade your working area. What exciting times we live in!

Let's get started!

[Play video]

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Step 1: Parts and the Plan

The base of this project, like most dorm hacks, comes from IKEA. I used the shelf from an old BILLY book shelf. You'll probably find a shelf plate if you look around a dorm area as the BILLy shelf is a part of the classic IKEA dorm room starter kit!

If you cant find a shelf plate, fear not! You can just pick up the EIKBY LAIVA for 3 bucks!

Every 3D model is designed so it can be fastened with either screws, double sided tape, or just sit on by friction. So you have a lot of options!

I tried every option for fastening. You may want to pick up some 3x20 mm wood screws along with some double sided tape.

It's also a good idea to have a few furniture pads for the legs. This makes them sit rock solid on top of your desk!

I have currently designed and made four possible upgrades for the desk extender. I really like the modular design of everything, so I'll definitely be adding more upgrades as I discover what I'll need at my desk. If you have a suggestion for something to add to the desk extender let me know!

Step 2: Where to 3D Print

If you're following this project to upgrade your dorm room you probably have several 3D printers close by!

A lot of campuses have 3D printers as part of different subjects or for hobbyist. Most campuses also have maker spaces and DIY groups, where someones bound to have access to a 3D printer.

A third option is to go to your local library as several libraries has 3D printers on hand where you pay by the weight of the item you print. Lucky these 3D models were made to be super light!

If you've been trough these options and you still cant find a 3D printer, you should have a look at sites that can print for you, like 3Dhubs and shapeways.

Step 3: 3D Printing

Click here to download the 3D models. Before you download make sure to download the files for your particular shelf. All of the models are similar except one set is made to fit the BILLY shelf and one set is made to fit the EIKBY LAIVA. Just check what type of shelf you have before you start printing!

All of the 3D models were designed to be sturdy even when printed on a rough resolution with zero infill. This means the parts are printed with fast, with less material, while they still carry a lot of weight!

I printed all parts in PLA and they are still super strong, so no ABS required! PLA has the benefit of not producing any strong smells or toxic gases if you're printing in a small area - like a dorm room.

These are the settings I used, feel free to tweak in any way you want:

  • Layer Height: 0.3 mm
  • Infill: 0%
  • Extruder Temp: 210
  • Bed Temp: 70
  • Solid Layers Top/Bottom: 4 / 4
  • Perimeters: 2
  • Speed: 60 mm/s
  • Material: PLA generic

Step 4: Putting Everything Together

First of all I started by screwing on the legs with a couple of screws. Make sure you don't tighten the screws too much as that will bend the hook parts that grabs onto the shelf itself. Now is a good time to add furniture pads under each leg. The pads give the legs more friction and in turn makes the desk extender sit really well on your desk.

The phone grip is printed in two parts, where a knob is screwed onto the shelf. This knob will latch onto the phone grip which grabs onto the sides of your phone, like a tiny hand! Because the phone holder will feel a lot of movement, it was fastened with a wood screw as well to keep it in place. A nice feature of the phone grip is how it rotates, it holds your phone in either portrait or landscape mode!

The headset hook was made to keep your headset hanging in the air. Using vertical space so you have so much more room for activities! The hook itself along with a headset is light enough for it to sit without any extra fastening. So it simply slides onto the shelf!

Last but not least, let's add a way to maintain all of the cables. Each of these cable managers holds three cables, so go ahead and print as many as you'll need. I recommend rotating the model while printing. As I discovered this gives the cable slots added flexibility. The cable holders mounts really well with a couple pieces of double sided tape.

Step 5: Putting It to Use

And now everything's finished! Time to put your project to use!

I filled the desk extender with all of my productivity tools, which cleared up a lot of space. I even had enough room to add a second monitor!

All in all this is a quick and super cheap way of adding more space and nifty features to your desk. I like how quick and cheap it was to put everything together, and the possibilities of modular design.

I've obviously been using the desk extender every day as I'm on my computer every day, and it has been a significant upgrade to my work area! It's much easier to start studying or working on projects when you have an organized area with lots and lots of space for all your books and tools!

As an additional bonus, this will keep your laptop at an improved viewing angle. This will be a relief for your neck and back if you spend a lot of hours in front of a computer!

If you like this project - please click the VOTE button in the upper right corner now!

Tables and Desks Contest 2016

Participated in the
Tables and Desks Contest 2016

Design Now: 3D Design Contest 2016

Participated in the
Design Now: 3D Design Contest 2016

Dorm Hacks Contest 2016

Participated in the
Dorm Hacks Contest 2016

CNC Contest 2016

Participated in the
CNC Contest 2016