Prototype Electronic Projects with Arduino & 3D Printing

Written by: roboguru

So you have this great idea about an electronics project. You're not exactly sure what circuit you're going to use, so you need to make some prototypes. What better way to do this than with an Arduino and a breadboard? In this tutorial, I will show you how to easily add electronics to your 3D model prototype using an Arduino Uno and a breadboard. Let's get started.

Step 1: Your 3D Model

Create a 3D Model of your idea

The first step in prototyping your project with 3D printing is the 3D model. If you already have a model, skip this step. If you don't, you'll need to create one. I recommend using Autodesk 123D Design, but any 3D modeling software should work. The software will take some time to get the hang of, but it is much easier than some others. My idea was to create a retro skull with flashing led eyes (I didn't model this, just downloaded it from thingiversehere).

Step 2: Add the Arduino Holder

In a recent Instructable, I created an STL file called Rev3ProtoPack.

It is a all in one, compact holder for the Arduino Uno. It also holds a mini breadboard and a 9 volt battery to power the Uno. In this step, you are going to insert the holder into your model, allowing you to put your prototyping electronics directly on your printed prototype. To do this in 123D Design, first download the STL file below, then hover over the drop down menu in the upper left corner. Select 'insert' and browse to the downloaded model. You can now manipulate the holder and add it to your design. The above photo shows the skull model that I got from thingiverse, ready to be printed with the prototyping plate.

Step 3: 3D Print Your Model

Now that your model has an electronics prototyping plate, you can print it out. My recommended infill for printing the plate is 40%. When it is printing the little pegs for the Arduino, you need to have the cooling fan on, even if you are using ABS. If you don't, it will print little blobs instead of pegs.

Step 4: Assemble the Prototyping Plate

On the Arduino, there are four holes. Two of them are closer together than the other two. Place the holes on the pegs, aligning the closer holes up to the closer pegs. Next, put a half size breadboard into the holder. You may want to secure it with adhesive, but it should work well without it. Now, take two Zip Ties and place them through the slot as shown. Tighten them around a 9 volt battery with the terminals by the breadboard, then clip off the extra. Last of all, plug the 9 volt battery into the arduino using the power cable.

Step 5: Add Electronics to Your Model

Now you can prototype circuits and code on the plate. Once you have a working circuit and code, add the electronics to your model, upload the code to the Arduino, and you're done! Please vote for me and share this if you like it!