How to Make a Large Lighthouse Using a Cheap 3D Printer

Large 3D printed pharo lighthouse

As a Pharo addict, making a 3D printed lighthouse is a fun week-end project. This idea is even more attractive. It’s a project that goes beyond what can be done using a small 3D printer, with a single extruder. The requirement are the following:

  • The lighthouse can be taller than the maximum printing height.
  • The height should be easy to change, without a CAD sofware.
  • Combine at least 3 colors.
  • Minimize wasted  time and  filament in case of a print failure.

The solution to address all these requirement is to split the lighthouse in parts. There are 4 kinds of them: The base, the intermediate rings, the brim and the head. You can make many intermediate rings to make a lighthouse as tall as you wish. Of course, you can print each part in a different filament, and combine colors. Last, since the parts are small, they are fast to print.  This minimizes the waste caused by a possible print failure.

There are 2 options to make the STL files for above parts. One solution is to design the whole lighthouse as a single object. Your CAD tool exports a single STL file, that you import into some tool such as Slic3r. The last step is to perform cuts to obtain STL files for the desired parts.

3d printed lighthouse

A second alternative is design each individual part. The CAD tool will exports one STL for each part. I’d chosen this option, although it took more time than the previous one. This is because I had to glue together all the parts. I wanted to have a slot that makes alignment straight forward, and minimizes glue overflow.

You’ll find the STL files in a dedicated folder on my Thingiverse page. You’ll also find a picture of the modeled assembly, as well as the result of a final print. The video below shows the print on a rotating base. The video also explains how I built the base that I’ll use for showcasing my 3D prints.

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