Introduction: Super Cool 3D Printed Test Tube Vase!

3D printing is cool. And with FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) 3D printers becoming cheaper and cheaper, the houses of nerds around the world are filling up with lots of cool little plastic trinkets. However, people trying to make useful things sometimes get hung up on the limitations of the technology.

Example: FDM printed parts are (generally) not water-tight, so I can't print crazy looking cups or vases that work, right? Sad face.

WRONG! HAPPY FACE! 3D printing can be paired with off-the-shelf cheap stuff to make it even more awesome!

Here, just do this:

Step 1: Buy the Stuff

This step is easy. Just buy some test tubes from wherever. I got 6 for $7 in the Amazon. Looks like they're $11 now. omg. sux4u.

From here on, it's all about the 3D modeling. It's hard to give step-by-steps because you all have your own favorite CAD software, so I'll just tell you how I did it.

Step 2: Model the Vase (Fusion360 + Solidworks)

I used TWO whole softwarez: Fusion360andSolidworks (->"SW"). Fusion360 is free, but a lot of you probably don't want to spend $7million-or-whatever on a SW license, so I'll tell you how to model this both with and without SW. The finished product as made without SW will only be like 80% as cool as the ones I made (with SW). Note that SW is only needed for its "Wrap" tool, which Fusion has not yet implemented (10/15/2015).

Solidworks time!

  1. Draw half a profile of the test tube as if it were split long-ways (See Screenshot!). Measure your tube and dimension this profile properly.
  2. Revolve Boss around the tube's axis.
  3. Now click on the top of the tube and click Shell, and be sure the Shell outward box is checked. I used a shell thickness of 3mm.

Fusion Time!

  1. Go to and install the Voronoi sketch generator. Follow installation instructions on that page.
  2. In a new Fusion design, do this: File>Scripts and Add-ins>Voronoi>Run
  3. In the Voronoi dialog box, go wild with these numbers and mess around till you find a pattern that looks super cool. The important numbers are Pattern width (the outer circumference of the thing you just made in SW. Hint: use the Measure tool as shown in the screenshot!) and Pattern height (the height of your test tube from its top to where it starts to curve in at the bottom.)
  4. Right click the voronoi sketch you just made and choose save as DXF.

Back in Solidworks!

  1. Create a plane parallel to the plane you sketched your test tube profile on, and place it a short distance from the surface of the body. I made mine by ctrl-click-dragging the Front plane, but you do whatever the hell you want.
  2. With your shiny new plane selected, click Tools>Import>DXF/DWG... and locate your voronoi .DXF.
  3. Use Move Entities to position the sketch properly. Leave a few mm between the top of the body and the top of the sketch.
  4. Wrap that shiznit.
  5. Extrude Cut that sketch you just wrapped.
  6. BAM! In yo face: a cool looking vase.

Step 3: Model the Vase Using ONLY Fusion360

So you're too cheap for Solidworks? Good! Using Fusion 360 alone, you won't be able to wrap the voronoi sketch around the vase, but you can do the following workaround:

  1. Sketch, rotate, shell as described in the previous step, only this time do it in Fusion!
  2. Now create a voronoi sketch using File>Scripts and Add-ins...>Voronoi>Run. Make sure the Width is narrow. Mine was 1.75cm. For Height, input the height of the cylindrical portion of your test tube (~14cm?).
  3. You'll have to move this sketch down-- Select all sketch elements and click Move. Drag it all down so that it's contained in the vase body. Duh.
  4. Click Extrude to cut the pattern into your vase.
  5. Do this: Create>Pattern>Circular Pattern. For Objects, click the Extrude feature you just created in the history tree. For Axis, chose the axis of the vase. Probably the Z-axis or somethin'. Change the Quantity to 4 and
  6. BAM. You got yourself an awesome looking vase. Cool, right? Y'all owe me big time.

Step 4: Mounting Geometriez

Wait-- you mean you don't like vases that lay on their sides? Well if you don't wanna be innovative like that, you can just add some boring mounting geometry so that you can hang your vase upright on a small nail or something.

I'm just gonna blaze through this part, since after reading the last step(s), you're probably a real wizard at this CAD garbage.

Better[lazier] yet, I'll just give you pictures. Here, use these.

Step 5: Just Press Print!

I printed mine in ABS on a uPrint. It used quite a bit of soluble support material, which took a while to dissolve out. These would also look great in SLS nylon or just about any other type of 3D printed stuff. If you want, you can get yours printed at

Now slide those test tubes right in, squirt some water in there and plug a plant into it. Voila! You just made a super cool 3D printed test tube vase!


Oh, wait--PS: I made with with the loving support of my design and engineering family at FATHOM ( :D :D :D