Back in early January when I opted to do this project, I had very simple concepts in mind. While doodling in my notebook trying to figure out something completely unrelated to this project, a cooler, yet more complicated concept came to me. Click the image below to see the short progression of sketches.
Fiddling in Fusion 360 CAD
The parts of this planter will be 3d printed, molded, and then cast, likely using a matrix mold since the parts will be fairly large, and I don’t want to use up a lot of expensive silicone. I started modeling and printing back in January 2020, before I had the engineering requirements worked out. I made some decent progress modeling up the planter in Fusion 360. It wasn't smooth progress, but it was something. I got the head modeled with an undercut-free hinge between the two halves, but I struggled when it came to modeling the mouth. I tried using the form tool first, but I lost patience with it honestly. I also tried making the lips with the loft tool, but I wasn't happy with it. Its mouth ended up looking too friendly. Menacing and eager-to-devour-you is more what I was after. For eons, I've meant to learn Blender for organic modeling. Blender Guru's Donut Tutorial YouTube series is definitely in my "watch later" list.
Not-so-cool Planter Lips Modeled
Unsatisfied with the mouth expression on the planter and my limited understanding of organic control in Fusion, I opted to leave the mouth expression out of the CAD model for now, and instead just left a cut out in the head to sculpt a mouth onto later physically. I'll develop organic computer modeling skills another time.
Immediately after I finished modeling the head, I output .stl files for 3D printing and started printing the bottom half, a 17-hour print. In all my excitement to move forward and get parts printing, I jumped the gun. *Facepalm* Looking at the part in my hands, it was apparent it wasn't deep enough. I could and should have seen that in Fusion BEFORE I printed the part. There are a few obvious things I should have done differently to avoid this:
Welp! This was foolish!
- The most obvious; check the internal pot depth before printing.
- Complete the design and engineering requirements before beginning any building process. That list not only serves to clearly define what is needed from the completed project, but it also serves as a checklist to refer back to at every subsequent stage of the project to ensure all the requirements are met, and nothing is forgotten. Had I done this step and referred back to that outline, I would have been reminded to check essential aspects of the design like the internal depth of the pot.
- Don't be so hasty to start printing/building. As I was setting up the print files, it occurred to me that I should hold off on printing for at least the night, and sleep on it. While I felt good about the design and what I was going to print, I often think of another thing I should do or change in the model the next day or so. But I ignored my own better judgment in all my eagerness.
I've heard it said when it comes to design and development, iterate quickly and fail fast. I understand that the methodology can be extremely beneficial in product development, but I imagine there are some caveats to that. Fail fast, but fail smart. Avoid silly and costly mistakes. Fast iteration and failing fast is not an excuse for recklessness and half-baked planning and design. I'm still working out the balance between failing quickly and failing intelligently.
The filets on the print didn't turn out very well without support material. I didn't expect them to be perfect, but I thought they'd be better than this. Perhaps I'll try printing with support next time and see if it turns out better. In either case, I can fix the filets in post-processing anyway, so it's not a huge problem.
I'm not sure if I want the wall thickness of the planter to be 5mm or 3mm. 5mm seems really thick and wasteful, but is 3mm thick enough for a sturdy pot? I won't know until I get some resin and make a couple of test samples at 3mm thick and 5mm thick. Right now, it's modeled at 5mm thick.
I've since completed the engineering requirements of the project and made some changes to the design. It's taller/deeper, and it has built-in ribs to support a smaller pot inside for double-walled potting. I've printed a mini version of the entire head to serve as a maquette so I can play around with sculpting expressions on it. I thought the softened cube shape might grow on me, but I'm still not thrilled with it, so I'll model an oval or egg shape and make another maquette to play with as well. The cube shape could be more of a pain in the molding/demolding process anyway. An egg shape will be easier. My next move on this project is to sculpt maquettes until I come up with something I’m happy with. Afterward, I can return to Fusion 360 for modeling.
Taller Planter w/ Proper Depth
SourcesBlender Guru's YouTube ChannelBlender Guru's Blender Donut Tutorial
Draft Written: April 7, 2020
Last Updated: June 17, 2020