Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

3D Printing a Pi Zero Case

3D Printing

We learned about 3D printing for two weeks, and using various software, and scanners that could be used to create printable 3D designs

Part 1

First, we learned about Tinkercad, which is a very simple 3D modeling software. A huge benefit to Tinkercad is the fact that it’s accessible online, and even works in mobile devices. We created aliens and castles as an introduction to Tinkercad. Thanks to some preexisting models, they were not difficult to create. The next step was downloading the models as stl files, and playing around with them in Meshmixer. With Meshmixer, it was possible to smooth any quirks in the model that would make it hard to print.

Part 2

In the second week, we learned about 3D scanning. We used the Structure Sensor on iPads to scan some objects, but sadly, the scanned model did not come through by email. We also used the kinect scanner to scan people, and it worked quite well. The model created from the kinect was also unsuitable for printing, so we learned how to use meshmixer to make it better for 3D printers.


I choose to design a themed utensils for my enemies, and a traditional art, and print out a case for my raspberry pi zero.

The theme for my utensils was the fact that they all had ridiculously round bottoms, so you could never put them down at all. It was quite simple to make with Tinkercad

The traditional art I chose was actually an instrument from Korea. I am in a student organization that gives performances using the instrument, and I thought making a 3D model would be interesting, and challenging, as the shape was quite complex. I was not able to get anything scanned into the model, however, as SketchUp was not friendly with importing stl files. However, I did create everything from scratch, and getting all the straps was quite a challenge. The changes I made were the engravings on the leather straps holders, and adding the university logo to the drum faces. 

The part that I actually 3D printed was a case for my raspberry pi zero. I already did have a case for it, but it left the soldering pin holes exposed. As I felt that I would not be soldering anything on my pi zero for some time, I  decided to make a new case that would cover the holes. I used SketchUp, as I had previous experience with the software. I used my old case as reference, and a diagram detailing the dimensions of the pi zero that I found online. 

Once the design was done, I tried to get it printed using the abs print at the fab lab. Sadly, it did not work out great. So, I used the PLA printer instead, which didn’t work out too great either. It did print, but the 4 holes in the corners were too small. I printed another set at the business maker lab, which turned out nicely. It’s holes were also slightly small, but I could make the hole bigger using a file.

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