Printing a Grate

The first attempt involved hand-sawing over 60 individual pockets in a solid 9mm MDF board. In addition to this being A LOT of work to saw and sand the pockets, the result was way too sloppy. Some kind of computer-aided router would probably be the best solution, but that is beyond my toolset. At the time I did not own a 3D-printer, but a friend was willing to do some 3D-printing for me if needed.

The whole display is rather big and could certainly not be printed as a whole. Actually the printer we had available had a rather small working area. So the idea became to print individual, more-or-less standard pockets and combine these to a grate lateron. A simple design tool was used to create STL files from a 2D design and over a couple of days, all the pockets were printed.

This tool converted the 2D SVG drawings to 3D STL files The first prototype to make sure we had the sizing correct 3D printing is always an adventure The batch of pockets growing steadily

A transparant piece of plastic was placed over the printout of the artwork that I created. This would be the placeholder to make sure that pockets ended up in the right position. Individual pockets are glued down on the placeholder and the remaining space will be filled with epoxy to end up with a solid grate.

A transparent piece of plastic was placed over the printout of the artwork as a placeholder for the pockets Glueing individual pockets together before glueing them down to the placeholder All pockets are glued down to the placeholder but not a solid grate yet

The construction of the desk panel will be a bit different, because most of this panel will not be lit. One grate for the gambling game is created by glueing together 9 rectangular pockets. The outside of the pockets was made square to make glueing straight-forward and 4 tunnels were drawn in each piece to add more stability in the 3D print.

The rectangular pocket for the gambling game All the pockets glued together as one grate (slightly croocked, but good enough) The finished gate for the gambling game