3D printing your aquarium parts

Discussion in 'I made this!' started by SantaMonica, Aug 6, 2013.

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  1. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Fire Shrimp

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    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!
     
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  3. zesty

    zesty Sailfin Tang

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    I run the 3D printer we have at work. I have often thought about this. We use a solution to soak off the support material, the solution is made of Sodium Hydroxide. I've always been leary of using something that soaked in this solution in a fish tank.

    Anyone else have thoughts on this?

    Thanks
     
  4. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Fire Shrimp

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    The low cost printers don't print supports anyway, at least not with dual-extruders and PVA. So you'd have to design-in some breakaway supports with the ABS, with possibly a raft.

    I decided to avoid supports altogether by redesigning everything to avoid sharp overhangs.
     
  5. zesty

    zesty Sailfin Tang

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    Yeah, downstairs the advanced automation boys have a makerbot with only one extruder. They are not using ABS for the material, I think they are using PLA.

    The material for the printer I maintain is so stinking expensive, that it's watched pretty closely, so I doubt I would be able to add too much of my tinker toys in there anyway.

    If possible, it's a great idea!
     
  6. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Fire Shrimp

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    The ABS material for the Replicator 2x is about $40 per kg.
     
  7. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Fire Shrimp

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    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
     
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  9. SantaMonica

    SantaMonica Fire Shrimp

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  10. Camkha1234

    Camkha1234 Great Blue Whale

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    Interesting concept. What is it painted with?
     
  11. ingtar_shinowa

    ingtar_shinowa Giant Squid

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    nothing thats the plastic coloring
     
  12. Camkha1234

    Camkha1234 Great Blue Whale

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    Ahh thanks ye.