Handiest of DIY paludarium tools: A 3D printer

Nope, I am not a fanboy of any 3D printer brand, it is a tool for me that (hopefully) gets the job done. Some of the most complex shapes and some of the simplest shapes I have printed for the paludarium… It is always nice to have the ability to print things you just cannot buy (and usually are hard to build otherwise).

The simplest: Alignment washer for the PVC feedthroughs

The awesome guys at Blue Lagoon built me a nice glass setup with holes in the glas predrilled. But these holes are drilled at 29mm, while the actual PVC feedthrough only measures 20mm. Not really a problem, there are wide flanges with rubber rings to cope with the sizing difference. Still, I was able to “misplace” the PVC elements in such a way that it would simply leak. “If only I had a washer at the exact right size”… Uhm… I DO have a 3D printer.

After 5 full minutes in Fusion360 (yes, it is free for hobbyists!) I drew a washer, 20.5mm inside, 28.5mm outside, 5mm thick. Quick and easy:

Quick-3D-printing a washer to align the PVC feedthrough in the holes drilled in the glass paludarium construct. No strength required; it only need to align the PVC to the (larger) holes.

The most Complex so far: 10W led chip fixture

The most complex design I printed so far is without a doubt the led chip fixture. It is built out of several pieces that are either glued together or “click” onto aluminum heatsinks. On the top it holds the reflector and collimator lenses in place:

Collimator lens and reflector are held in place by a 3D printed part

On the bottom there is a clip-on construction that is printed in two pieces then glued together. One end clips onto the aluminum heatsink from the bottom up, the other part has a ballhead construct to make the lighting direction adjustable:

The bottom side of the power led fixture. This features a way of mounting the fixture while remaining adjustable thanks to the ballhead contruct.

Hardest part was actually how to get the ballhead male and female sides the exact right size so they would clamp but not break.

If you are considering a 3D printer, I would say go for it! Prices have come down, and it will allow you to produce parts you could only imagine. As soon as you get into the DIY paludarium building it is almost a must-have 🙂

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