3D printing & some mods

A project log for DIY distance lamps

This project combines 3D printing, some electronics integration and clever programming to enable two remote lamps to be in sync.

maximiliano-palayMaximiliano Palay 03/08/2023 at 00:150 Comments

First prints

If you head back to the last lines of the previous log, you'll find that engineers tend to overcomplicate things. Turns out if things aren't overcomplicated, they are oversimplified! - I'll tell you why, hold on.

First things first.

I 3D printed the bottom half which serves as the LED diffuser. You can see two of those on the next image.

The screws are put in place so when the resin finished curing, the m2 threads won't get clogged. I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but the resin printer prints m2 threads surprisingly well, so the threads are embedded into the parts. It has its pros and cons, but it is simpler for me to embed them and have them come out directly off the printer.

With FDM that is not the case. I'm usually printing clearance holes and using a thread cutter to make the threads.


I have assembled the whole thing (without connecting anything) and tested the feeling of the top wheel/knob. It had a lot of play. Turns out adding additional support other than the encoder was indeed a good idea.

I thought of two options to fix this. One of them was using bearings I have lying around, not 100% sure this would fix it, but I gave it a try. The design was then modified to accommodate the bearing. Luckily, this wasn't a major change.

So the top wheel now grabs on to the encoder, but also has some lateral support at the bottom, provided by the bearing. We're keeping the amazing stack design alive. Although this does not solve the issue 100%, it alleviates it. I do have some more ideas for rev 2.

I'll leave some drawings of the final design attached as files for reference.

Printing everything

I combined resin printing with fdm, I do believe there is room for each of them. The parts which need a better finish were basically printed using resin. Overall FDM print time was around 6 hours (2 units) and SLA print time was around 6 hours as well (2 units). I'm not counting a few discarded pieces.

Post processing

Having in mind this is a product that one might interact with many times a day, I find the finish and feel very important. The clear base and the top wheel were sanded up to a 320 grit, by hand, to achieve a frosty look (clear base) and smooth feel. A few pictures of the process.

Clear resin base without any post-processing. You might be able to see kind of aliasing due to the pixels on the printer, and the orientation of the model on the printer.
In the process of sanding. This gives the clear part a frosty look, ideal for our use case. The top wheel, I'm not that convinced this finish is what I want. But painting it is always an option.
Sanded clear base. The port opening isn't sanded so you might still see a few artifacts there. But the piece is smoooooth.

Final look

A final sanity check before going all-in on this design. Don't worry, I'll post a video of the whole assembly. This was just kind of a mockup to check how it looks.

Of course one of the first things I had to do was testing how it diffuses light. Have to say I'm quite happy with the results.

I wasn't sure about lots of things, but it turned out okay. Perhaps some of the fun of it is that - not knowing how things will turn out, at least not 100%.