File repositories offer a vast collection of plant pots or planters that can be 3D printed. Vases and pots usually are desktop 3D printer-friendly and any filament can handle the task. Taking into consideration that these objects are highly customizable and are functional, it is understandable why these are such a popular choice for 3D printing on desktop 3D printers. Let’s dig into this subject, check the types of plant pots, and find out how to optimize the slicer settings for waterproof 3D printing.
Themed Plant Pots – Dog the Gardener and Easter Bunny
Dog the Gardener is a remake of the Easter Bunny Toy Pot Planter which Max Funkner designed a few years ago in ZBrush. Now this bunny has a fellow friend, a gardener dog. Both of them can be useful during the Easter egg hunt, and all year round these can serve as plant pots or simply as the containers for something small, and of course, they can be used as toys. These fellows could be great for introducing gardening to children turning it into a fun activity.
There is a catch though. Themed plant pots like these take up a lot of 3d printer build plate volume. Scaling the model up for a bigger plant may be expensive filament-wise plus it would take a longer time to print, even a hollowed version. Creality CR-10 printer can be well-suited for such scaled projects.
3D Printed Self-Watering Plant Pots
The self-watering or sub-irrigating method entails that the water is not poured directly on the soil but in the tube, and the plant takes as much as it needs from a reservoir underneath the pot. We tested the Self-watering Flower Pot by Mediocredesigns. It came out great in SUNLU Coffee PETG, and now it is a planter for the onions. The designer made sure that the basin walls were optimized for waterproof 3D printing.
Waterproof 3D Printing – Tips & Tricks
After printing out a few different models, we came to the conclusion that it is possible to use 3D printed pots. However, there are a few rules to stick to in order to minimize the risk of a water leak. Here are our tips & tricks:
Disclaimer: Even a well-printed plant pot may start leaking with time. Use them with caution and mind your furniture.
Design. – First of all check the design. If there are any overhangs, this may compromise a 45-degree rule. Those designs may look great when 3D printed, but as there will be less room for proper filament fusion, therefore tiny invisible holes may appear that could let the water through.
Quality prints. Your 3D printer should be tuned well, especially the bed leveling. The base and wall layers should be flawless to hold the water. The model must be thoroughly checked in the slicer software in preview/slicing mode and the settings adjusted if necessary. Usually, it is the layer width that can be tuned to minimize the sporadic infill and to remove the space between perimeter shells.
Temperature. As we do not expect a lot of retraction and no bridging when printing pot-like models, we can bring the nozzle temperature up for better melting/fusion between the layers.
Vase Mode. Or a single corkscrew outline mode won’t work unless you have 1mm nozzle and perfect fusion instead of the usual 0.4 mm nozzle. It is tempting to 3D print plant pots in the Vase Mode but there is just not enough fusion between the layers. An addition, a few micro-holes may appear during the handling of the finished object.
Sealant. A wide range of waterproof sealant sprays is available on Amazon (affiliate link). We tested “Plasti-kote” brand for the laser engraved coasters, worked well. but we didn’t test it yet on plant pots. Most likely these are not food safe chemicals.
PLA vs PETG. One is biodegradable over time another one is waterproof.
PLA vs PETG – Filament Choice for 3D Printed Plant Pots
We found that PETG is better than PLA for this job. We achieved the result when PLA and even Wood filament didn’t let water through when tested overnight. However, as PLA is biodegradable, we may expect that over time water and sunlight will break our layers and erode the filament. There are some sealant solutions available to post-process PLA or wood filament. We didn’t test them, yet. Are these the food-safe chemicals? Doubt so.
Therefore, PETG wins here as it comes from the PET material, a common material for plastic bottle, 100% waterproof and recyclable. The downside of PETG is that it doesn’t like retractions which should be no problem in case of 3D printing plant pots. Read more about PETG …
Brown PETG Filament on Amazon (affiliate link)
Plant Pots With a Real Tree Texture – 3D Printed in Vase Mode
It is possible to use 3D scanning and vase mode 3D printing to achieve a real tree texture effect for functional or decorative items. There are many trees that carry a piece of history or sentimental value for someone. It may be an oak, which can be hugged by five or more people. This tree outlived quite a few generations and maybe under protection of local conservationists. It could be a maple that holds a swing, or a pine with awesome cones. Even a birch 3D scanned texture can be transferred to an object. At the same time, the vase mode 3D printing is a brilliant time-saving technique for such tasks.
Wall-Mounted 3D Printed Plant Pots
If there is no more space on the shelves, walls can be used for the planters as well. If kept indoors, it would be perfect for the plants that do not need too much watering, to prevent extra unwanted humidity in the room. Check out wall planters or wall pots on file repository websites.
Marks & Spencer’s Little Garden Collection
Coincidently, during the coronavirus lockdown, Marks & Spencer supermarket chain started a “Little Garden” campaign. At the check-out till, they give away little planter kits with a nice variety of seeds, from flowers to edible herbs. The little seed kits come with short instructions and are very easy to use. This initiative brightened up the lockdown for many, kids and adults alike. We have all our test prints used for our own neat little garden.