3D printing your aquarium parts

Discussion in 'Do It Yourself (DIY)' started by SantaMonica, Aug 7, 2013.

  1. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2009
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    100
    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    3D printing your aquarium parts

    For those of you serious DIY folks, you may be interested in how you can make your own plastic aquarium parts by printing them on a 3D printer. Just this year, costs for the 3D printers have dropped to under $500 USD for a pre-built one, and under $200 USD for a kit. 3D printing of your plastic parts works well when:

    1. You are good with computers.
    2. You like trying new designs or colors.
    3. The part is small, or can be put together with small parts.
    4. The part does not require great strength.
    3. There is no easier/cheaper way to get the parts.

    Some aquarium parts, such as simple boxes or tubes, are not suited to 3D printing because they can be more easily made with simple plastic or acrylic shapes. But some parts are so complex that there is no other way to make them except to print them on a 3D printer. I'll be using 3D printers to make the next version of algae scrubbers because of the built-in air tubing, magnet compartments, holes, and bubble pathways that make it impossible for the part to be made (in one piece) any other way.

    Some things I've learned that pertain especially to 3D-printed aquarium parts:

    1. Only use ABS plastic, not PLA or PVA. The ABS plastic is the same type of plastic used in kid's LEGO toys and is very strong. PLA or PVA plastic, however, will slowly dissolve when underwater or when subjected to high temps.

    2. Only use FDM (also called FF) printers. These are the types of printers which use coils of plastic filament. These are also the cheapest printers. Other types of printers such as SLA (liquid) use a photo-cured plastic that will get brittle under aquarium lights, and "powder-printers" make parts which are not water tight.

    3. The 3D printed parts will not be "glossy smooth". They will instead be more like carbon fiber, with a texture (or lines) running in one direction through the whole part.

    I'm too new at 3D printing to be able to recommend a particular printer, but I'm sure each reef or aquarium club has someone who has a 3D printer, and this is usually a great place to start.

    Happy printing!
     
    SantaMonica, Aug 7, 2013
    #1
    PsiStar likes this.
    1. Advertisements

  2. SantaMonica

    MitchReef reef noobie, since 1986

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2013
    Messages:
    645
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Oviedo, FL, home of the Oviedo chickens
    This sounds outstanding. I'm not computer savvy at all but would love to see some of what you are going to do for us!
     
    MitchReef, Aug 7, 2013
    #2
    1. Advertisements

  3. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2009
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    100
    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    SantaMonica, Aug 7, 2013
    #3
  4. SantaMonica

    Jml32788

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2011
    Messages:
    157
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I have herd about this a lot since Maryland passed its "No Assault Rifles" legislation. They were worried that people would 3D print the parts needed to build a rifle with no serial numbers. But as far as aquarium parts go I can not think of anything worth printing that I wouldn't rather pay a vendor/LFS for. Its an awesome concept but I would never use it.
     
    Jml32788, Aug 8, 2013
    #4
  5. SantaMonica

    MitchReef reef noobie, since 1986

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2013
    Messages:
    645
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Oviedo, FL, home of the Oviedo chickens
    I would love to be able to kick out some nice custom pump housings if it is strong enough for that....
     
    MitchReef, Aug 8, 2013
    #5
  6. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2009
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    100
    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Yes you can make pump housings; just thicken up the walls to maybe 3mm and make the "infill" 100%
     
    SantaMonica, Aug 8, 2013
    #6
  7. SantaMonica

    MitchReef reef noobie, since 1986

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2013
    Messages:
    645
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Oviedo, FL, home of the Oviedo chickens
    What kind of printer do you use? I waas reading up about them last night and got really curious about them.
     
    MitchReef, Aug 9, 2013
    #7
  8. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2009
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    100
    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    I don't have one yet. My part was printed on someone else's Makerbot Replicator 2x.

    I'm looking at getting several of them.
     
    SantaMonica, Aug 10, 2013
    #8
  9. SantaMonica

    MitchReef reef noobie, since 1986

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2013
    Messages:
    645
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Oviedo, FL, home of the Oviedo chickens
    I'm wondering about the RepRap builds....I saw that the replicated parts are an included file and that the standard is that a person who builds one makes at least two sets to sell to other builders for the cost of materials only. It would still be sonewhat costly for the steppers and controllers. The inexpensive ones say their heads are for PLA only. What would have to be done to make it ABS capable?
     
    MitchReef, Aug 10, 2013
    #9
  10. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2009
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    100
    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    SantaMonica, Aug 10, 2013
    #10
  11. SantaMonica

    noy

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2013
    Messages:
    358
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    Toronto
  12. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2009
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    100
    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Summary of 3D printing links:

    Endless things to print:
    Thingiverse - Digital Designs for Physical Objects

    General forum for all printers:
    https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/3dprintertipstricksreviews

    Massive forum for lots of printer kits and DIY:
    RepRap Forums

    Current lowest-cost assembled printer to print aquarium-safe ABS plastic:
    The Buccaneer® - The 3D Printer that Everyone can use! by Pirate3D Inc :: Kicktraq

    Current most popular U.S. based assembled printer:
    Home

    Low cost Chinese clone of Makerbot:
    Flashforge 3D printer

    Another low cost Chinese clone of Makerbot:
    3D printer
     
    SantaMonica, Aug 21, 2013
    #12
  13. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2009
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    100
    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    SantaMonica, Aug 29, 2013
    #13
  14. SantaMonica

    SantaMonicaHelp

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2011
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Anybody good at modeling, and would like to make a coral model for printing?
     
    SantaMonicaHelp, Sep 6, 2013
    #14
  15. SantaMonica

    MitchReef reef noobie, since 1986

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2013
    Messages:
    645
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Oviedo, FL, home of the Oviedo chickens
    This is too cool...maybe my bride will be working soon and after a while a printer, or even plans to build one could be in the cards....I'm sure they will come down in price over time....
     
    MitchReef, Sep 6, 2013
    #15
  16. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2009
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    100
    Location:
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    I hear that the MakiBot is only $300
     
    SantaMonica, Sep 6, 2013
    #16
  17. SantaMonica

    MitchReef reef noobie, since 1986

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2013
    Messages:
    645
    Likes Received:
    62
    Location:
    Oviedo, FL, home of the Oviedo chickens
    Can't do ABS with it though....
     
    MitchReef, Sep 6, 2013
    #17
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.