Adventures in 3D Printing: Lampshade and Copper Tubing Light Fixture



My husband and I are a bit transfixed with 3D printing, neither of us know a lick about the software to do our own modeling, but there are 1000’s of ready to print items on Thingiverse.

Both of us are now at the point where we want to design our own 3D items, yet it’s really intimidating to try to learn how to design.  I’ve downloaded Sketchup and am going through online tutorials to learn.  Ultimately I’d really love to take a 3d Modeling software classes specific to 3D printing.  Hoping there is a class offered soon in the Seattle area soon! Online learning is fun and all but I’d love a 2-3 day intensive to learn enough to start actually printing my own designs.

Here’s how we got started with 3d printing- we purchased a printrbot Jr.  back in November.   It took us nearly a month to actually figure out and get it printing right…  Definitely not for the faint of heart or for anyone that wants a plug and play printer (it was the best entry level model we felt to get us a taste of 3d Printing).

Once we got that working, we were hooked! Everything from ornaments, to kitchen items to phone cases. We noticed on Thingiverse that the prints could be significantly better, so we upgraded to the Makerbot Replicator 2.   WOW!  Literally plug and play, a vast improvement for those of us that just don’t care to tinker with the problems of a less expensive machine (we are talking $600 vs. $2200) and the prints are so much better! This all said, had we not got the printrbot, put some time in to getting it working, we would have never realized the amazement of 3d Printing in our own home.

I do feel a bit out of my league at times, wanting so much to design my own models, but doing basic tutorials step by step that feel  elementary compared to what I want to create, but I have to start somewhere.  Course by course I’ll get there eventually,  just feels a bit daunting at times.

So onto one of my favorite projects.   I Love this lampshade design and have printed it 4 times now.  1 lampshade melted with too hot of a light bulb and 1 lampshade I tried printing in yellow and it just was kind of hideous the way the light threw from it.  I’ve printed both the ribbed and non ribbed version (I’m talking lampshades here people…..) I liked the non-ribbed version best, as it throws light better and you can’t see the weird variations that you see in the ribbed version (teal is ribbed, purple is non-ribbed version of the lampshade)

Here is our amazing Makerbot  printing out the yellow lampshade…


Definitely do NOT use regular light bulbs, anything hotter then an energy smart light bulb or LED or it WILL MELT THE LAMPSHADE.  I had mine melting a hole and dripping when I was testing it out with a regular light bulb as I wanted to run a light for 24 hours in in before I felt it was “ok”.  Probably should have got a picture, or video for that matter…but I didn’t. Kinda cool to watch it slowly give in to gravity,  but not so great if I left the house and didn’t know… eek!

If you’ve read  my blog before, you know that I love light fixtures; refurbishing and hacking old lamp parts and pieces into something new.  For this lampshade,  I decided to make some slimline light fixtures that could fit in places where I needed light, but couldn’t fit a “normal” light fixture.

I made one for my office over my computer and mounted it on the shelving system, this one was in the aqua/teal PLA, this is the one printed with the ribbed .stl file from Thingiverse, you can see how the light doesn’t throw as well and you can see the variations in the printing.   Of course to each their own, some of you may like the variations showing.


I also made one for my daughters bedroom in Purple PLA to match her décor and so she could have a reading light on her loft bed. They are super slim line and as you can see, work great for odd space that could use a little bit of light.


Here’s what you need to make the light fixtures I made:

Cut and build your copper tubing portion to the size and specifications you want, using the 45 degree angles to build the arm of the top of the lamp as seen in my pictures. The tubing straps are used to mount it to the wall or shelves etc.

NOTE: Wire your copper lamp as you go! If you do more than two 45 degree angles or even one 90 degree angle you won’t get your lamp wire through the copper tubing. This is why I use the solderless copper bonding so you can wire as you go. I built an awesome shaped lamp fixture that can never be wired for an actual lamp because I didn’t follow this one rule!

Here is the copper tubing and wiring in progress:building-copper-tubing-light-fixturecopper-tubing-portion

I’m addicted to making these now. You can fit them behind anywhere, and in places you normally can’t get a lamp! I have 2-3 more to make, and ramp up my copper tube designs to be a bit more interesting.  I love combining the technology of 3d printing with the industrial copper tubing and making something truly functional for my home.

Let me know your questions or thoughts!

Happy DIY’ing, and Printing…







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