Using SOLIDWORKS & 3D Printers for Everyday Home Projects

3D printing has become popular in recent years, and many people now have 3D printers right in their own home. Although it seems like a recently invented technology, did you know that 3D printing has been around for over 40 years? It originated in Japan in the 1980s. If you’re interested, you can learn more the history of it here. The technology has come a long way, and now is readily available to the general public. Many people jumped onto this trend, using sites like Thingiverse to find fun models to print out right at home. I mean, who doesn’t want a cute reticulated octopus for their desk?

At a certain point, however, you can only print so many knick-knacks and trinkets. What about some more utilitarian and practical projects?

The Missing Drawer Handle

My home was built in the 1950s and I have the original retro-style metal cabinets in my kitchen. At some point during renovations, one of the handles went missing. I searched high and low and online for a new one, with no luck. I went without a handle for a year or two, convinced it would show up or I would magically come across one for sale one day. However the drawer wasn’t very useful without the handle (and didn’t look great).

I was on a mission to come up with some sort of timely replacement. The spacing between the holes for securing the handle were an uncommon distance apart, limiting the option to just use an existing, un-matching but practical handle. This lead me to the idea of creating one from scratch. I took one of the existing handles and some calipers, and modeled up a part that I could 3D print.

I chose to undersize the holes for the screws, so that the threads of the fasteners would “bite” into the plastic and would be almost thread-forming. This sufficed, and I was able to use some screws I had in the garage to connect my handle replacement. I was concerned that the 3D printed material (PLA) would not be strong enough, but found that when fully fastened, it held quite securely with little flex. The only thing left to do was apply a coat of silver paint so that it matched the rest!

The 3D printed handle replacement on the top right

Improving & Improvising Storage Solutions

In the cold winter months, what better things are there to do than organize and de-clutter your personal space! Being crafty has it’s perks, but comes with the downside of having lots of supplies. I had purchased some decorative storage baskets, with the mindset to organize said supplies in a way that was efficient and logical.

I decided that just laying the pens, markers, etc. in the bottom was not ideal. The goal was to organize them into categories, and not have a heap that needed to be rummaged through. I decided I still wanted to use the baskets, but wanted to some how compartmentalize them.

To complete this task, I decided to take advantage of things I had available to me, and found some wooden skewers I had laying around. I wanted to use them as a structure to create a grid of sorts inside the basket, which would allow me to store and organize the supplies in an upright fashion. To secure them in place, I took advantage of the the triangular holes in the plastic basket and decided to make keyed endcaps for the wooden pieces (I trimmed off the tapered ends of the skewers). After taking some quick measurements and a few minutes in SOLIDWORKS, I had a design for custom keyed endcaps. In less that half an hour I had them designed, 3D printed, and ready for assembly. With a little innovation and some skewers I had laying around, I now had a custom storage solution!

Endless Possibilities

Although I only had my 3D printer a short time, I was able to find ways to use it to help with with everyday home projects. Another useful creation was a laundry detergent cup holder. I cannot take the credit for the design, but found a file online, modified it, and had a better way to store the cap and stop drips!