Experiments in 3D printing: Bathtub Shelf

I first started designing objects for 3D printing using the open-source design software, Blender. However, I found it quite tedious. Blender was designed for a very different purpose: it was designed to model objects in 3D for rendering and animation. Designing a 3D object that is printable is a whole other story. And so with Blender it took me a long time to make 3D models that could be printed.

On the other hand, if a software were designed explicitly to make objects for 3D printing, then it could be much better. It could leave out the hundreds of features that are not needed for 3D printing (shading, lighting, physics effects, etc). And it could only allow operations that resulted in objects that could be 3D printed, making it idiot proof.

I was thrilled to find that such a software existed. And even better, it’s free and runs entirely in a web browser. Cloud-based, yeah! It’s called TinkerCad. It’s super easy to use and optimized for 3D printing. It took me just a couple of hours to custom design a shelf for my bathtub. And Shapeways readily accepted the design and printed it, and in a couple of weeks I got the shelf. Check it out!

3D printed bathtub shelf

Here’s my design file on TinkerCad, and here’s the design on Shapeways for printing. It’s pretty cool to compare the picture above with the design as you can see below:


3D model of shelf


What I liked about creating this design is that it’s quite complex with all the holes and angles, but yet it was very easy to do with TinkerCad. It would have taken me days with Blender.

I’m now working on an even more complex design with moving parts and round shapes. Let’s see if it prints well. I should be getting it in a few weeks, very excited! Here’s a preview.

Bedside box


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