While doing some research on design sprints for work recently, I came across a Google Ventures site called “CustomMade”. The premise of the site was interesting – upload sketches, 3d models, or schematics of something you’d like custom made for you, and they’ll connect you with artisans, carpenters, or craftsmen to bid on creating your project for you. Furniture, jewelry, etc – I figured it might be worth trying to upload a description of the apparently non-existent planter that I’ve been looking for to fit a particular windowsill.
I didn’t get any bites, but it did get me thinking about 3d printing. I knew services existed now where you could mail order 3d prints (such as Shapeways), and after doing some reading I discovered that to even get a ballpark price range, you had to upload your 3d model. Fair enough, I figured — so with some reading and a host of Youtube videos in hand, I downloaded SketchUp – formerly another Google project, it’s a basic 3d modelling program based on open source code with a handy free version and a large userbase.
I don’t have a 3d modelling background, but I’m pretty decent with a variety of graphics programs. It took me a few hours, but I was able to put together a quick model of the planter I had in mind. It turns out the cheapest material I could get was porcleain/ceramic, and it would still come up to about $150. That’s still probably a bit much for me, especially considering my size limitations for printing would come out to 5″ – meaning I’d need a row of about three to fit my windowsill.
Still, though, I was impressed at how easy it was to learn the program and found out from folks at work it has a heavy following amongst DIY folks – both for doing initial designs, but you can also download plugins for it that are great for woodworking. (They’ll break apart the individual pieces of your model and figure out the most efficient material list – how many boards you’ll need, in what sizes, and what pieces get cut out of which boards to assemble your model.)
So while this isn’t the answer for my ideal planter (nesting drip tray, bevelled bottom for drainage, perfect dimensions) – I recommend it if you’re into DIY or just up to learn something new to play with.