Tired of chasing after your loose papers? Don't want to use that eyesore of a paperweight that your coworkers gave you? Maybe it's time to create a custom 3D printed paperweight that will suit you. This Instructable will hopefully give you insight on some basic 3D modeling skills and offer a new 3D printing technique. 3D printer filament is too expensive to print solid as a paperweight, so why not add a filler to gain some weight? We add sugar mid-print for a hidden weight that is sealed into the print.
First, gather the following materials:
- 3D printer
- PLA/ABS filament
- sugar, sand, or salt
- CAD software- I will be using Autodesk Inventor Student
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Step 1: Create Your Design
Start by opening your CAD software. Remember that all 3D models start from 2D sketches. Create a new 2D sketch. Now you need to choose what you want to model your paperweight after. I will explain how to create both text and an image.
Text: To create a paperweight made out of a letter or words, select the "Text" tool in the "Create" category of your toolbar. Type your desired lettering at set the dimensions. I chose to make my letters 50 mm in length. Now exit the sketch. Extrude your lettering 30 mm. Export a .stl file and save it in a place you will remember.
Image: Choose a basic image that has minimal details. Two-color outline designs work best. In a 2D sketch, import the image using the "Image" tool in the "Insert" category. Scale your picture to how you like. Create a new 2D sketch and trace the image using the "Spline" tool. When you are finished, you can finish the 2D sketch and delete the original picture. Extrude the splined face 30 mm and export a .stl file.
*** The video above demonstrates both methods.
Step 2: Slice Into GCODE
Time to make our 3D model printer ready. Open your favorite 3D printer host program- I will use Repetier-Host. Load your file and slice it into GCODE. We want it to print completely hollow so that we can filled it with sugar. Here are the settings that I used:
- PLA filament
- .3 mm layer height
- 0% infill
- 3 shells
- 3 solid bottom layers
- 4 solid top layers
Step 3: Find Transition Layer
Now we need to find out when to fill the print with sugar. We will let the printer print for a while, pause the print, fill with sugar, and continue printing. The printer will then cover up the sugar, leaving a sealed, solid object.
Navigate to the "Preview" tab of your sliced model. Find the heading "Visualization" and select "Show Single Layer." This graphic shows how the printer will extrude for each layer. Scroll through the layers- most of them should show a hollow middle. When the graphic nears the final layer and shows a complete top infill, note the layer number. We will want to pause the printer before this point.
Step 4: Fill With Sugar
Start your print and watch the layer number to make sure the top doesn't get covered up. When the print is close to getting covered up, pause the printer. Remember that it can take a few seconds to pause. Raise the extruder 50 mm to get it out of the way (the printer will automatically lower the extruder when it resumes).
Use a funnel to pour sugar into your print, filling it to just below the current layer. It is okay if you spill on the print bed- you can clean it up later. Continue the print and watch as the sugary interior is covered up in layers of plastic. You may have to manually turn off your extruder fan if your printer has one; otherwise sugar gets blown out of the print and everywhere.
My printer has a heated bed, so I could smell some spilled sugar cooking- yum...
Step 5: That's It!
When the printer finishes, remove the sealed paperweight from the print bed and clamp down your papers.
Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. I would also like to know if you fill the paperweight with any other materials. Good luck and thanks for reading this Instructable.