Like many of us, student Valentin Postl’s computer work area was less than perfect. In fact, he’d been using a file folder as his mouse pad for a year, before deciding it was finally time for an upgrade. However, he didn’t just go to the store to buy a new one or order one online, he “simply” printed one on his Prusa MK2S 3D printer.
To decorate the mouse pad, he used a tessellating fish pattern that he worked out in illustrator in several colors, then exported these paths into the 3D modeling program, Cinema 4D, in order to extrude the paths into 3D sections. These objects were then loaded into Slic3r, and he set up the perimeters of each object to print with swirling Hilbert curves to fill in the gaps.
Getting the correct outlines of each fish wasn’t a problem, as Slic3r draws a perimeter around the outline of an object. Since Postl set up each part of the fish as its own object, every part got its own perimeter. Each object receives two layers of extruded outlines, so there are four lines between each fish section. Parts were printed in sequence. It started with the heads first, before moving to the right towards the bodies. Postl said that this process helped him avoid any warping issues.
The top of the mouse pad was printed first. This placed the working surface directly on the build plate, and the flat, non-decorated portion that sits on a desk facing upwards.
Postl is quite happy with the results, however, he does note a few things that he’d do differently if he were going to make a new pad:
First of all I would check the bed leveling even more thorough. I went through every calibration program, manually adjusted the leveling in the software and raised one of the corners by hand using a tiny washer.
I got pretty close, but not all the way. One corner was just a little bit too low and I ended up manually ramping the extrusion up and down for about an hour to ensure I had no gaps and the print didn’t self-destruct.
Additionally, I would clean up the files a little, to make for some nicer edges around the pad.
Also, I would use some sort of semi-flexible or flexible filament. The pad is fine as it is, but it would probably benefit from being a little softer.
As for whether you should print your own mouse pad, it’s been some time since he’s used a normal mouse pad, so it’s difficult for Postl to compare how well his work compares to a “standard” model. He does note that it works “just fine” compared to the folder he used, and that he finds normal mouse pads to be too thick.
If you agree with his opinion on thickness, printing your own allows you some control over this, as well as other design aspects, so you can craft something entirely unique. If you’d simply like to make an exact copy of his fish design, he’s published the files here. He used a .4mm nozzle and the standard gray/silver filament that came with it for the print. It took him around 3 1/2 hours to complete, though he thinks this build time could be reduced significantly.