A long-time cliche in the world of science fiction has been the UFO abduction. Today, we combine the extraterrestrial with earthly nature by designing and 3D printing this cute UFO Abduction Planter. You will be able to care for any small plant as well abduct anything you want right on top of your desk!
This project will require a computer (Access to Tinkercad), a 3D printer, and some 3D printer filament. You might not have a 3D printer in your home, but don't worry! Look for one at a nearby tech shop, school, or even public library. If none of those have a printer, you can always use a website like Shapeways to get your models printed and sent to you.
I have also included the models here if you'd like to print this project without following along.
Lets get started!
Step 1: Tinkercad
Go to www.tinkercad.com to access a totally free online CAD program. If you haven't used Tinkercad before, you can do the tutorial to familiarize yourself with the basics.
Step 2: The Flying Saucer
We first want to create the UFO itself, the classic flying saucer. To do this, we will take advantage of the diamond shape.
Insert the diamond and cut away most of the bottom with the hole tool. Afterward, insert a half-sphere and scale it to be flattened over the top of the diamond like a dome. Combine the objects.
Step 3: Make the Edge Circular
Next, we want to make the flying saucer circular while still keeping the diamond pattern.
To do this, center a ring around the object and use the hole tool to slice off the outer edge of your flying saucer. Now we have an object that much more closely resembles the mythical spaceship.
You may also want to change the color of your object to be... not hot pink. Easier on the eyes.
Step 4: Planter-fy!
To make our UFO into a planter, we must cut away a space for the plant to sit!
Use the plane tool to create a plane on top of the saucer. Center a cylindrical hole, and expand it so that only the edge of the top dome remains. Move it into the body of the object and then use the combine tool to cut away a cup for your plant.
Step 5: Drainage Holes
A critical feature of planters is the drainage holes for excess water to escape and for the soil to be well aerated.
This step is as simple as duplicating (ctrl + D) a grid of long vertical shapes and using the hole tool to cut away the bottom of where the plant sits.
Step 6: The Base / Abduction Beam
In order to create the abduction environment, we need to create a base that looks like a beam of light.
First, insert a cylinder and scale it so that the base is just slightly smaller than the largest part of the saucer. Flatten it into a disk.
Next, insert a cone, and use the sliders to adjust the base so that it fits perfectly over your disk. Then, adjust the top radius to be slightly smaller than the base of the saucer.
The next part is a little tricky: duplicate your cone, make it a hole, and decrease the radius of both the top and the bottom so that it fits inside the original cone. Combine the original cone and the new hole. If you did everything correctly, you should end up with just the outer wall of a cone.
Finally, cut away half of the hollow cone, align the cone over the edge of your disk, and combine the disk with the cone. Congratulations! You have completed the model!
Step 7: Export for 3D Printing
In order to 3D print our object, we need to export each individual part as an STL file. To do this, use the 3D print tool on Tinkercad and save the two parts separately (ufo and base).
I split up the flying saucer to print in separate pieces and avoid support material using duplications and holes. This is optional. Printing with support material would be perfectly fine as well. I have included both the split up flying saucer and the whole flying saucer in my files so you can print it however you'd like.
Step 8: Print and Assemble
3D print your pieces and then put them together with a little super glue! You may want to sand, prime, and modify the parts as you wish during this part. I had to use an Exacto knife to touch up the pieces that I had divided so that they would fit together.
In case you were wondering, I used only 10% infill on my parts, and they turned out plenty strong!
Step 9: Plant! Abduct! Enjoy!
All you have to do now is find a small plant to place in your planter! I found some at Home Depot that fit perfectly into my UFO. I can pretend my plant is a green alien with... many many arms.
To complete my abduction, I found a small monkey to put underneath the saucer. However, if you want to stick to the cliche, you'll want to find a tiny cow! There's a lot of room for upgrades to this project, such as LED lights, strings, and paint.
When you water the plant, you can just wipe away any excess water that drips out of the bottom of the planter and into the base.
Enjoy your new desk toy!