3D Printing Upgrades For Use Outdoors

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When I bought all this land I didn’t realize just how much time I’d be spending doing maintenance to keep it nice and usable. I have over a mile of trails that I keep mowed, trimmed, and basically just clear enough for casual walking. One of my favorite things is just being able to go for a walk comfortably in the woods.

Unfortunately, this means I need multiple tools while I’m working. A machete, some “loppers” (what are those really called anyway?), and of course a drink.

I decided to use those fancy 3D printers I have to make my life a little bit easier and make nice mounting systems for my extra tools, instead of just piling them at my feet and hoping they don’t fall off. I also decided to go a little nutty and design a gimbal based drink holder so my frosty beverage doesn’t spill!

The material

I talked with the team at Prusa a bit about what materials to use for outdoor printing. I personally love printing in PLA because it just comes out so pretty each time, effortlessly. However, PLA isn’t great for outdoor use. It can get brittle and warp in the sun.

The team at Prusa suggested I try out their ASA or PC Blend materials. They have far superior mechanical qualities, and aren’t as much of a pain as ABS previously was.

I gave them a try and ultimately ended up using the PC Blend for these mounts.

Tool mounts – perfect sizing in Fusion 360

To mount my tools, I wanted to keep things simple. Basically, I made small brackets that would hold them in place while I was driving around, and that would release them easily enough not to frustrate me with repeated use. You’ll notice I left lots of air holes as well. These sit out in the rain sometimes and I want them to be able to dry and air out.

There’s nothing particularly exciting about the mounts themselves, but they do give a perfect opportunity to talk about how to get things to be perfectly sized in Fusion 360.

To keep it short; all you need to do is take a nice flat picture of the item you’re designing for, and calibrate that image within Fusion to have a perfectly sized visual reference. Watch the video above to see a step-by-step breakdown of the process. This is so simple, but drastically changed my workflow when I learned it.

Print in place drink gimbal

Another area I really wanted to explore was “print in place” moving parts. That means that you don’t have to assemble it after printing, it just comes off in one piece, ready to work.

A gimbal offers up a few opportunities to look at print in place hinges, so I gave it a try! You can see in the video that I took two different approaches and both worked great.


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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. find me at CalebKraft.com

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