This post is about one of my recent 3D-printing projects.
I like having plants in my apartment, but anything that requires frequent attention would have a difficult time surviving under my care. I thought cactus would be a nice fit, due to their ability to withstand periods of water scarcity—which I also respect on principle.
Here are my cactus plants in their 3d-printed pot:
The one on the left, with red-tipped spines, is a Mammillaria spinosissima; the vertically-fluted one on the right is a Trichocereus grandiflorus hybrid.
I tried to optimize the 3d print for speed, without sacrificing too much quality, so I used low infill and moderate layer height settings (see here for advice on optimizing prints). Even so, the projected completion time was over 12 hours (which really illustrates some points I made here). However, as can be seen in the above photo, the print did not complete (it was supposed to be 4" in height, so I could transplant the cactus plants from the pots they came in). Partway through, my printer froze. I don't know the exact reason, but I suspect that communication between the computer and 3d printer got out of sync.
If I retry this print, I might insert an
@pause command into the GCODE (after slicing) at various points, so that I have to intervene to continue the print. I'm also thinking of trying out a 3d printing service such as 3D Hubs, as this model would look great printed with a sandstone material.
Here is the model that I made for this cactus pot, by the way. Some description of how I made it is in the following sections.
The tiling pattern on the sides of the cactus pot was inspired by some Moorish tiling that I saw at the Alhambra in Grenada when I visited in 2013. The Alhambra supposedly has a comprehensive, or nearly so, collection of wallpaper groups used as decorative motifs.
Here is the picture I used as my template; I used the perspective tool in GIMP to make the view as square-on as possible.
This tiling has complicated symmetry. Here are some of the shapes that repeat frequently (traced in SketchUp):
Making the Design
To make this design for 3d printing, I first made a box of the desired dimensions (4" high ✗ 2.5" deep ✗ 6.5" wide) in SketchUp, shown on the left in the image below. Then I imported my photo of the tiling pattern and started tracing the shapes, leaving out the very small ones to improve printability—slicing this design before printing still took a long time for the Slic3r software in RepetierHost.
After tracing the tiling pattern, I pasted it to the front and back sides of the planter/container in SketchUp and extruded each shape in the pattern a small distance into the wall.