In this Instructable I'll show you how to easily make modular planter boxes in TinkerCAD that anyone can design and print at home.
Computer/Laptop with internet access to work with TinkerCAD
A 3D printer to print out all the parts
Tools for after-print finish:
You can use my .stl files right away for printing (just check them if they need supports!) or you can start designing from the very beginning.
I always think it's fun to start with a blank square, because everything is in your own hands and you get to do everything as you want it to be.
Step 1: The Base
We'll start by creating a baseplate.
I made it in 200 x 200 x 2 mm.
Next we need four blocks (10 x 10 x 20 mm) that will get positioned on the corners of the baseplate.
For those blocks we need to cut "block-holes" (8 x 8 x 20 mm). Make sure they are positioned on the outer corner's of the blocks and are elevated 2mm.
Now we create 8 blocks (2 x 1 x 18 mm) that will serve as rails where the pillars will later go onto. They are positioned as seen in the pictures on all 4 corners (2 in each corner). Elevate the elements by 2mm.
To complete the base, we need four sidewalls (5 x 180 x 18 mm). The sidewalls get a cutout on top (1 x 180 x 2 mm). Combine the wall and the cutout and then copy&paste it three times. Place between the corners and make sure you elevate it by 2mm.
The cutout has the purpose to fix any walls, acrylic glass panels, regular glass panels or panels with electronic components in them (such as pH-meters, thermometers or humidity measurement devices and much more...).
Now select all the components and combine them into one piece. Voíla - the base plate is complete.
Step 2: The Pillars
In order to make a box, we need some pillars to hold the side panels and the top in place.
I made them in 10 x 10 x 196mm (because base and top each take 2mm).
Next, I made cutouts that match the corner relief of the base plate.
Copy&Paste the pillar so that you have four in total and position one in every corner.
Now we need cylindrical cutouts on top of the pillars, which I made 20mm long and 2mm in diameter (sorry the picture shows 2.5mm, I changed it later on).
In order to make this box combinable with more boxes, we need railings that hold them together. So if we think of each pillar with 2 sides, we need 8 railings in total. Four that go to the outside and four that go inwards. To keep my aforementioned measurements, these railings are 2 x 1 x 196mm.
Combine each pillar into one piece and we can move onto the top.
Step 3: The Top
The top starts out as a 200 x 200 x 2mm box.
Then it gets one cylinder in every corner that match the holes in the pillars. (diameter 2mm, length 18mm).
To make the box accessible via the top, we need to cut out most of it. I used a 170 x 170 x 2mm square to make the hole.
Since we want a closed ecosystem, the top will get a panel as well (probably glass or acrylic). That is why we need a little railing that holds the panel in place. For this we need 4 boxes (174 x 1 x 2mm) that we position just inside the inner edge of the top.
If everything is correct, the top should look nice and clean like in the last picture.
Just make sure that when you print it, that you need some way to lift the panel up from the immersion.
Step 4: Possible Additions
As I mentioned before, this box can be modified to accommodate all kinds of gadgets and gizmos.
Swap one side panel for a board with measuring instruments. Those can all be held in place with a printed panel that you can easily design in TinkerCAD to match your needs.
From here on you can decide if you want to go regular planter, hydroponic or maybe even aeroponic.
I wouldn't use PLA for this print since PLA gets softer from 60°C upwards and that is a temperature that can sometimes be reached with direct sunlight in summer (depending on where you live of course, but where I live it gets pretty darn hot).
My recommendation is ABS. It is reliable, temperature stable and pretty hard.
It is also easier (in my opinion) to finish the print since you can use acetone vapor. Or simply go with good ol' sanding paper. Your choice.
If you have any ideas to make this better, please let me know :)