3D Print Your Own “READ” Business Card Holder

3D printed READ business card holder

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:

Design Process

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!

READ Business Card Holder in Tinkercad

READ Business Card Holder in Tinkercad

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.

Post-Printing Clean-Up

After printing, I removed the brim and supports using:

  • Pliers,
  • Tweezers, and an
  • X-Acto knife
Have tools to remove brim and supports from your 3D printed item.

Have tools to remove brim and supports from your 3D printed item.

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.

Have tools to smooth out rough edges and remove dust particles.

Have tools to smooth out rough edges and remove 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:

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:

Valspar "Pool Party Blue" 2-in-1 primer + paint.

Valspar “Pool Party Blue” 2-in-1 primer + paint.

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:

3D printed READ business card holder

3D printed READ business card holder

Now go off and make your own!

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