Introduction: New Mother Succulent Planter
My plan was to make a planter for my sister because succulents are her favorite type of plant, but I wanted to make a planter that she was most likely not going to be able to find anywhere else. I thought it it would be cute and semi-humorous if I were to make a cactus with a a swaddle on for all its baby succulents to be able to be planted in. This project took me a few days simply because my printer only has a print area of 4.9" x 4.9" x 4.9". I bought a Snapmaker 3-in-1 printer a few months ago and it has been phenomenal, the size is the only limiting factor to me. This made it so I had to make a lot of the project in multiple pieces and assemble upon completion. I also wasn't worried about the making of the project according to the limits of my printer. I decided to make the planter as I wanted and scaled it so all the parts were scaled the same and all fit the print size.
Step 1: Designing Your Planter
In my opinion, it is important to have what is believed to be the final design figured out before you even consider printing or making a product so that you can see some flaws or make changes before things are permanent. Another reason is because 90% of the time, at least when I work on a project, you overlook things and can catch them before you have to create a work around.
I decided to try to make a swaddle that could hold 3 or 4 small succulents and originally wanted to add some sort of device to auto water the plants. Upon working on the design it seemed like a wasted effort to put a water system in a planter intended for plants that thrive on neglect. Luckily this happened in the design stages and was easy to remove before parts were made and material and much time were wasted.
Lets get started!!!
Some of the pictures I went back to take for clarification, so sorry for the color discrepancies.
Step 2: Designing the Body
The body is pretty easy to design, it is just stacked cylinders and a hemisphere with some cylinder holes in the bottoms for stacking them. I just made my body cylinder 30mm square and 24mm tall. The cylinder I put on top was 15mm square and stuck out the top 6mm. This worked well for a good size ratio so I copied it for the 2 center sections except these sections need holes in the bottoms to stack. I copied the 15mm square cylinder and lined it up with the cylinder I copied and dragged it straight down so it was in the same position on the top and bottom. I made the hole in the bigger cylinder 7mm deep so there was excess room. This shape can be copied and will work for the 2 middle sections. The top is the same way procedure as the last step, just line the hole up in the middle of a 30mm square hemisphere and add a 7mm deep whole. One problem that I didn't catch early was that the holes and the protruding red cylinder (above images) were the same size so they didn't actually stack. I ended up sanding the areas to allow a gap, but if you were either to make the hole diameter 1mm bigger or the red cylinder diameter 1mm smaller it should go together much easier with minimal sanding.
Step 3: Creating the Arm and Adding the Curve on the Inside
First was easy, I just put a sphere in the center of a cylinder and combined it into 1 part. It can be done by using a hemisphere, but I find that when you use a sphere you can easily find its center when lining it up. I copied the created shape and rotated it 90 degrees and centered it on the sphere and combined all 4 parts to make the arm. Now that the arm is complete, I lined it up to the body of the cactus and found a position that I liked. Without moving the arm away from the body I copied the whole body and made it a hole function and lined it back up with the original body. Without deselecting the hole version of the body also select the arm and merge the 2 parts. Now you should pull the arm off of the body and see if the curve looks right. You will have the same thing for both sides individually as to not bind the 2 arms together. I also decided to make the 2 arms at separate heights because I was feeling it.
Step 4: Creating the Swaddle
The swaddle was by far the most difficult part to design because it is an inorganic shape. It was made by adding a few shapes together then skewing them to look closer to what I had envisioned at the start of the project. This part wasn't a part that I could measure out and get it were it fits. It was more of a place it where I feel it looks best and keep it there.I ended up stacking a torus a cylinder on the bottom to give the edge a curve, a tube on the top to make the edge square, and a cylinder to fill in the center area. By making the shape and then expanding, versus getting it into the shape then merging, it creates more seamless parts and is much easier to maintain. I elongated the above shape and started to line it up on the body of the cactus.
Step 5: Aligning and Adding Cups to the Swaddle
This step starts by just just messing around with the swaddle shape to make it sit the way that you want it to. I decided to adjust it so that it didn't wrap the whole way around the back and rested on the upper arm. I did this by putting the swaddle partially inside the arm and didn't make it wide enough to go through the back of the body.
To create the cups for the actual plants it was 2 paraboloids with the center on scaled down a bit. I just made on to the size I liked and lined them up on the swaddle in a position that looked good to me and spaced them out decently.
Step 6: Removing Material Form the Swaddle to Fit the Body
This step is similar to the step of creating the curve in the arm. I just copied the whole body and made a moved it off to the side as to keep a saved copy of the work handy. I made a hole out of the cactus that still had the swaddle on and removed the material from the swaddle. This creates a groove that follows the body in angle and a groove to fit over the upper arm. When I did this step it missed some material so i just created a cylinder that covered the 2 small unnecessary bits but none of the swaddle and removed them.
Step 7: Found a Small Issue
When I bound the cups to the swaddle I merged the 2 paraboloids before I merged the cups and the swaddle.This caused there to be slants at the bottom of the cups. It was a simple fix by un-merging parts until the 2 paraboloids were separated again. I merged all parts of the swaddle and cups except for the holes for the cups. By doing this and then merging in the cup holes it caused the holes to smooth out and be deeper. Just a small example to show that order matters a lot when it comes to creating in tinkerCAD.
Step 8: Separating Parts for Printing
I started testing parts to see what would fit on my printer at different scales. It turned out that all the parts except for the swaddle would print at 375% scale without sizing issues. I decided to break the swaddle into 2 parts to alleviate the issue. I start by creating a second swaddle and 2 cubes for removing material. As displayed in the pictures above, I put the cubes together but not overlapping and put 1 of the swaddles in the center the it broken up somewhat evenly. I mostly didn't want a cup being printed in 2 different prints, so I offset the swaddle to fix this. I selected the 1 cube and the covered swaddle and merged them to delete half the swaddle. I moved the full swaddle into the cube and lined it up with the half swaddle. I select the cube and the full swaddle without selecting the half swaddle and merge them. If it worked successfully, you should be able to separate the parts into a 2 part swaddle.
Step 9: Separate and Print
To separate parts, tinkerCAD lets you duplicate projects, which makes separation easy. You just need to duplicate and delete all parts except 1 until you have all separate files. Then comes the longest part of the process has come. It took me multiple days to print this design. I got estimated times, so I could plan to best utilize my time and finish the print ASAP. I printed them using PLA and printed at the fastest method my printer recommended.
Here is a copy of the time and material table for reference:
Arms (each) - 9 Hours 8 minutes - 71 grams Bottom of body - 15 Hours 33 Minutes - 155 grams Swaddle part 1 - 3 Hours 59 Minutes - 28 grams Swaddle part 2 - 6 Hours 3 Minutes - 41 grams Hemisphere top - 11 Hours 5 Minutes - 91 grams Arm support body - 18 Hours 7 Minutes - 176 grams Upper center body - 16 Hours 23 Minutes - 166 grams
Total Time and material - 89 Hours 26 Minutes - 799 grams
This is the material I use to print: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J0GMMP6/ref=o...
the calculated cost of this whole print is about $18
Step 10: Finishing Touches
I epoxied all the parts together, primed the whole thing, and painted the body green. After the body was dry, I used gel superglue to hold the swaddle together around the body of the cactus. I used Loctite Ultragel Control because it dries enough in about 2 minutes so that you don't have to hold it for long. Last step is to put some succulents in it and maybe add some details for effect. Your imagination is the limit. I have yet to get some succulents, but will update when I do.