I’ve been coordinating 3D printing at my library for about a year. It’s sort of a side thing from my main duties as a reference and instruction librarian. Now that November is almost over and infolit stuff has winded down, I’ve had time to focus on a back-burner project that I had to let go once the academic year started up again.
I wanted to be able to design my own 3D printed business card holder.
Why Did I Want to Do This?
Well, yeah, I’ll admit I wanted something cool for my desk. But also:
- I wanted to use a program like Tinkercad to design my own file. For the most part, our users come with pre-made files they downloaded online. However, we’ve been getting a few more “how do I design this?” questions, so I wanted to become more well versed.
- I also wanted to do something with the design post-printing: like painting it. Something I hadn’t tried yet.
How I Began
It started with just wanting a business card holder. So I began by browsing Thingiverse. Here are a few designs I looked at:
- Notebook business card holder: I thought the laptop idea was clever and this was the inspiration for doing something book/library-themed.
- Business Card Holder – Wide and Deep: Useful as a basic design concept.
- Business Card Holder: again, looked at it for basic design principles.
Then I went to Tinkercad (you can create a free account) and started playing around with basic shapes like squares and rectangles: making them larger, smaller, thinner, wider, etc… Until I had formed a basic business card holder design.
My business cards measure 88mm across–which I’m assuming is standard (just shy of 3.5 in), so I made sure to plot out the space carefully. The finished product could end up accommodating a card that’s a few millimeters wider.
I was still looking for something book/library themed when I found this particular book design on Tinkercad. I thought it was the perfect theme! You can actually re-mix files directly in Tinkercad by downloading them, but I decided to create my own book design based off of the one I found.
For my design, I made the letters spell out: “READ.” Then I used the book to “bookend” both sides of my business card holder design. And there you have it, a perfectly themed business card holder for any library or book lover!
Design Files: Print Your Own!
I have uploaded the “READ” business card holder to Thingiverse with a Creative Commons license–so do to it what you’d like:
Thingiverse – READ Business Card Holder
If you want to “tinker” with the design (re-mix, edit), it’s also on Tinkercad with a Creative Commons license:
Tinkercad – READ Business Card Holder (you will need a free account)
Both links will give you a .STL file that you can use to print it out. Again, you don’t need to ask permission…just do it and have fun!
3D Printing Process
I printed my file on my library’s Ultimaker 2 3D printer. Here are a few notes with the printing process:
- I printed the file with both a brim and supports. You probably don’t need the brim (it helps keep the object attached to the print bed), but the supports are useful for printing the raised “READ” letters.
- Infill: 20% (a standard for a lot of hobbyist 3D print jobs).
- Used PLA plastic filament since that’s what my library has.
- I knew I wanted the color to be something in the blue family, but I didn’t particularly care for the shade of blue that the library had. So I printed it in white with the end goal of painting it.
- Cost: Since this was for personal use, I paid to print it. My library charges $0.10/gram. At 27.3g, the cost came to: $2.73.
- Time: Between 5.0 and 5.5 hours to print.
After printing, I removed the brim and supports using:
- Tweezers, and an
- X-Acto knife
Here’s what the business card holder looks like (printed in white) before the brim and supports are removed.
Smooth out any rough edges using:
- fine-grit sandpaper, or
- a nail buffer
Use a toothbrush to remove any remaining dust particles.
Here’s what it will look like after the brim and supports and removed, and everything is smoothed out:
My item printed with a few tiny holes along the tops of the books due to incomplete layering. If you’re a perfectionist, you can fill this in with an epoxy.
If you’ve printed your READ business card holder in a color suitable to you…then you’re done! However, if you printed it with plans to paint it, read on!
Painting a 3D Printed Item
In researching how to paint a 3d printed item, I found these sites useful:
- 4 Easy Steps to Painting 3D Prints Like a Pro – Pinshape
- Guide to Painting 3D Printed Parts: Priming – FormLabs
- The Ultimate Guide to Painting 3D Printed Parts – FormLabs
- Ultimate Guide to Finishing 3D Printed Parts – Fictiv/HWG
At my local Lowe’s, I planned on purchasing a spray primer and a spray paint in a color I liked. Make sure and choose one thay says it works with plastic.
I saw that Valspar had a 2-in-1 primer + paint, so I ended up choosing that. I was drawn to their Pool Party Blue, plus it had a glossy finish to it.
Make sure and lay down newspapers and spray in a well ventilated area. Give your item time to dry in between coats. I did 3 small coats.
Here’s the paint I used:
Spray painting a 3D item was surprisingly easy and now I’m thinking of different projects I want to do!
Here is the finished product: My 3D printed READ business card holder:
Now go off and make your own!