Computer Optimized 3D Printed Bookshelves

[Thomas] does a lot of interesting experiments with 3D printing and lately, he’s been using the free version of Fusion 360 to do topology optimization. He started with a blocky bookshelf bracket and let the software analyze the loads so it can remove pieces that don’t contribute a lot to the bracket’s strength. This uses less material, prints faster, and — [Thomas’] biggest goal — looks cool.

If you know [Thomas] you know he didn’t just hope the brackets would be strong enough. He made prototypes and destroyed them in testing. Despite being printed in a poor orientation for strength, the models held a good bit of weight.

It was a good thing he was able to use the free version of Fusion 360 even though it sounds like it was pretty slow. The paid version charges you $25 for each analysis and $100 if you want the output file. That can run up quickly if you are doing trials.

The shelves look good, especially with the color transition filament used. The prints take about 26 hours to print. Instead of printing a second color on dual extrusion which would have nearly doubled the time, a simple painting made the flat surfaces white.

It turns out the brackets were stronger than the wall, there was a bit of a problem mounting the things. Construction adhesive did the trick, though.

We’ve done a lot with Fusion 360 ourselves. We think it is just a coincidence that we so often see people using it to design furniture.

27 thoughts on “Computer Optimized 3D Printed Bookshelves

  1. Bookshelf *brackets*.

    After all that effort, seeing them mounted into drywall anchors was dumbfounding. Then attaching them to the painted wall with polyurethane adhesive was doubly so.
    Then again, I’ve had some disappointing experience lately with drywall and paint. During a friend’s move we’ve had a ridiculous amount of paint and texture tear off the walls when removing command strips because the texture was applied over filthy, dusty drywall. It even came off in huge patches where a TV bracket was lightly stuck to the semi-gloss paint.

      1. I normally add a wood block between studs behind the brackets. With the assumption it’ll be overloaded by someone at some point.

        If that’s not an option move the shelf to studs! Toggles are only good if you know the materials involved. Some of the drywall is pretty thin, could be old or damaged, etc.

  2. This one is a cool watch but unfortunately the simulation doesn’t support anisotropic materials so print orientation is not taken into account. Also he printed with less than 100% infill. These two issues really limit how useful the simulations are for 3d printing.

  3. I know a lot of our projects are just “because” so I’m not shooting it down, but the reality of it is that 3D printing is not suited well to this task. At least not at the hobby level. You can buy an – admittedly – plain shelf bracket at the dollar store, or print for 3 hours and use 1/4 roll of material. I find it strange how people seem to pick one, cnc, laser cutter, 3D printer, and then just use that for most cases. Even when they have access to a “better” machine for the task.

    1. “This uses less material, prints faster, and — [Thomas’] biggest goal — looks cool.”

      He wanted shelf brackets that “look cool.” Given the relative orientation of the layers versus the loads, the dollar store brackets might even be stronger than these, but would not “look cool”

    2. I think it’s more an exercise to learn and demonstrate fusion’s optimization features. Possibly 3d printing’s best use is rapid prototyping, so using it to learn these tools is not too bad an application imho.

  4. What is he talking about when he says he has a “foam concrete… pretty light wall”? I would be inclined to believe that he doesn’t really know what his wall is made out of and so he purchased the wrong anchors. I’m also quite tired of the overuse of construction adhesive.

    1. I think it is made of “Porenbeton” which translates correctly to “cinder”. If you translate it literally you actually come up with something like “foam concrete”.

    2. Or maybe he has foam concrete walls. Look up “Foam concrete” in Wikipedia or construction suppliers. Maybe you are not up to date in building materials all over the globe (by a near a century, this concrete is from the 20s of the 20th). If you want pretty pictures, “Autoclaved aereated concrete” article in Wikipedia. Brand name AirCrete has examples of building with huge blocks, not just the “cinder” type, so a wall can be just a handful of those blocks.

      1. Should have used rhino + grasshopper for far more analysis of form and structure in combination to surround parameters such as load and temperature, quite easy tondo and rhino gives 90day free trial

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