In this Instructable I am going to show you how to make a 3D printed custom "hitch cover plate".
I will show you a little bit about how I made my design from scratch in Tinkercad, but I will not go into enough detail to teach you Tinkercad or any other design program for that matter.
I chose my college logo for this project, designed it in Tinkercad, and printed it in PLA with a Dremel Idea Builder printer. I then designed a receiver for the hitch, printed it and glued the logo to the receiver.
This is also the first time that I painted one of my 3D prints. I used acrylic paints that I applied with a brush and I was pleased with the coverage and looks.
Computer with a design program (I used Tinkercad because that is the only program I have learned thus far. I say thus far as I am just now starting to learn Fusion 360, but I have a long way to go to becoming proficient.)
3D printer or printing service
Drill and drill bit
Paints and paint brush
5 minute epoxy
Time (Design time and print time)
Step 1: Design Phase
I printed a picture of my school’s logo for reference and started to design as close as I could to the actual logo. With Tinkercad the design tools available are basic shapes and you need to be able to visualize your design in these basic shapes and how to combine them to form more complicated shapes. For instance the lower part of the paw with GRIZ written on it is constructed of two ovals and three boxes. See the notes on the photo which better illustrates this.
The toes are made up of one oval and several boxes to “cut” the angles. See the notes on the photo which better illustrates this.
The claws are thin triangles with squares to cut the angles.
These shapes all combine to form groups and then are moved into the appropriate space in the design and locked in to place by “Grouping”.
I used the available letters in Tinkercad and added squares to shape them to match the font that I wanted.
Each of the components in this build has a different height to create depth.
In designing the receiver I made the plate on the receiver the same size as the logo plate in order to make the glue bond the strongest that I could. I also added center structure to the receiver to strengthen it.
Step 2: 3D Printing, Painting, and Assembling
I printed the components of this build in colors of filament that I had on hand since I planned on painting the logo in my school's colors to match the actual logo.
It took less than an hour to print the logo and over 3 hours to print the receiver.
I painted the logo with acrylic paint and a thin brush. Then I glued the logo to the receiver plate with 5 minute epoxy which I find works well for bonding parts printed in PLA and ABS.
I drilled the hole for the keeper pin with a step bit and then installed the receiver to the truck with the pin. I did not get a photo of this, but if you line up the hole in the center of the receiver all should line up.
Step 3: Duplicate the Idea
I am sure that you do not have any desire to copy and print my school's logo, but you can take my receiver file and design your own custom logo plate to glue to it. For instance you may know someone who is getting married? Why not make one for their wedding. Maybe you know someone who graduating? How about a “Class of 2017” plate. Ideas are limited only to your imagination.
I have attached the receiver .STL file and the Class of 2017 .STL file if you want to use them, but I will not share the university logo shown here, only because I do not wish to have Trademark issues.
Good luck on your builds and as always questions or feedback is welcome.
Step 4: Printable .STL Files
Here are the files for the Receiver and the Class of 2017 plate.