Do you enjoy being around animals? Yes, we do! We’re constantly delighted to find innovative models that make our dogs’ lives easier.
Of course, 3D printing isn’t limited to your living rooms; there are a variety of models available to assist our wild friends as well. It’s encouraging to see that many makers worldwide are aware of this and are designing designs to aid other creatures. However, before you begin printing or even modeling, you should take a moment to consider the model’s safety and functionality. Let’s look at a few truly great and practical designs, and we’ll show you how to make them attractive, functional, and safe!
Hygiene and Materials
Because our pets (and other outside animals) are less fastidious about hygiene than we are, it is up to you to take responsibility. To keep them safe, you need carefully evaluate what you give them; we’ve previously covered the essentials in our post on food-friendly 3D printing. In general, germs can accumulate in microscopic spaces between the layers of untreated 3D-printed objects. A foul-smelling food dish caused by these germs might not seem like a significant concern, but your pet could become ill in the worst-case scenario.
You also don’t want to expose animals to potentially harmful materials (such as those containing styrene), so ABS and ASA are out. Instead, use PLA, PETG, or other food-safe materials. This is especially crucial for rodents and other animals who would happily feast on your print.
Avoid models with complex designs, and make sure your print is easily washable and doesn’t pose a choking hazard or any other threat to the intended user. It’s also a good idea to print the models with 100% infill or epoxy resin on the interior. Water might flow into the model through cracks. It could linger for lengthy periods, generating a terrible odor and undesirable effects.
We spent some time putting together a fascinating and useful collection of hamster and (captive) birdhouses, various food dispensers, poop bag boxes, and other models. Take a look through the collection; there are some fantastic models to print and possibly even get ideas for your own designs.
Printing Guidelines for Outdoor Animals
We may move on now that we’ve covered the fundamentals of selecting the suitable materials and print settings. Even if we make mistakes while producing them, our pets will show gratitude for the vast array of things we create for them (except for cats…).
Many outdoor animals may enjoy your efforts, but you should consider how to make the 3D print and where to put it. Wild animals, unlike our pets, struggle for their survival every day, and both their and our mistakes can cost them their lives. Typically, materials familiar to animals, such as wood, or materials that are weather-resistant and damage-resistant, are advised. Don’t worry; you can still print a wide range of items; all you have to do is do it correctly.
Before printing for wild animals, it is critical to review all relevant criteria and recommendations. Often, these animals have pretty specialized requirements. We’ve included a few examples of 3D printing for animals below. Still, you should consult an expert for any additional projects to ensure you don’t make any mistakes.
Let’s begin with a well-known design: birdhouses. They assist in safeguarding the environment, are attractive, and provide the lovely melody of singing birds to your yard. There is a wide range of designs, but a word of caution. While many look great, their functionality is significantly poor, to the point where they are potentially deadly to animals!
The most prevalent issues with 3D printed birdhouses are The absence of a service aperture (a removable roof, for example) and an entry that leaves something desired. Bird entrances come in various designs and sizes to accommodate different species. Cleaning a birdhouse regularly (once each season) is necessary, but it can be difficult if you don’t have easy access. Before designing your project, remember to research local ornithological organization recommendations (for example, the NWF for the United States). And alter the design for the species found in your area.
Birdhouses should serve as a safe haven for fledgling birds rather than a death trap! Prusa Printers created four designs of the most typical (and simple to print) birdhouses. Each of the four models includes instructions for printing, placement, and information about nesting species in the print description. Please read all of the guidelines carefully to ensure that you do not create any problems or even harm the birds that may be present.
Bat-houses are less popular than birdhouses, yet they are just as helpful and interesting. Pollination, seed dispersal, and pest control are vital ecosystem services bats provide. Some bat species like to roost in structures, such as under window shutters, in attics, etc. Many modern buildings lack such crevasses, making bat habitat challenging to come by. In some situations, these missing architectural components can be replaced with bat-houses. Some species, such as pipistrelles, will find a new home within with a bit of luck. These bats will eat insects around the roost, offering a beneficial service while also providing an excellent example of education and environmental conservation.
If you want to try your hand at making a bat house, we’ve made a model for you to use and connect to the outside of a building, a tree, or a high pole. Please read the model description’s recommendations and local expert instructions such as Merlin Tuttle’s bat conservation, Bat conservation international, NASBR, and others. When putting up a bat house, follow a few crucial guidelines; if you don’t, you risk endangering or even killing endangered species!
Bats aren’t as clean as birds, so if they find your house appealing and decide to stay, you’ll undoubtedly find their poo under the bat-house. On the plus side, the so-called bat guano is one of the most effective fertilizers available.
3D Printed Feeders for birds (and other animals)
We would like to remind you that you should always follow professional instructions when feeding wild animals. Always use clean, wholesome food and regularly keep your feeders topped off. Improper timing and meal selection might have serious consequences! 3D printed pet feeders should be cleaned periodically, food should be kept dry, and birds should only be fed when hungry (October to March in Central Europe). Remember to keep the feeder away from predators: 1.5 meters above the ground and 2 meters away from obstacles should be enough.
The general principles for creating bird feeders are a little kinder than the requirements for making birdhouses. Their size and shape can vary greatly. It’s good to make feeders with a roof and a string or pole attachment. But there are two essential characteristics to consider: the food must remain dry, and the feeder must be out of reach of predators.
We like these two Prusa designs: the first 3D printable bird feeder is based on a Prusament spool, and the second is based on a plastic bottle. The first model has one disadvantage: the food storage capacity is modest (with tiny gaps in the roof). The second model has no cover, so the food will not keep dry during the rainy season. Prusa has created improved pieces (the first 3D printed feeder, the second feeder) for these designs to increase their functionality.
Of course, bird feeders aren’t often intended for birds. There are many different versions for other creatures, such as this simple bee feeder.
Hotels for Insects
Insect hotels have recently become a popular garden ornament for a simple reason: they’re entertaining to look at, interesting to learn about, and practical. Insect motels usually are created from natural materials, so you’ll have to stick with that (at least partially). To attract insects, provide them with dry wood, reeds, cones, and other natural materials. However, you may still make an attractive and unique outer cover with your 3D printer. You may make cool things that will help local biodiversity, serve as an educational and entertaining element, and beautify your yard! For example, try printing this exciting design from a Prusament spool.
Prints for Animals and Environmental Protection
We hope that this brief presentation demonstrated how 3D printing may benefit not only us. But it also helps our pets and wild neighbors (this live trap may be helpful if those neighbors might be unwanted guests). Please keep in mind that simply pressing the “Start printing” button may not be enough to create a functional and safe product; there are some things you should know, as we’ve discussed in this post. We’re also stating this because several other Prusa projects might benefit from following the set mentioned above of principles, so keep an eye out for them. Many models are beneficial only for particular instances (by professionals): see our newest Prusa Stories, 3d printed turtle shells, eggs, and so on, but you can still do a lot at home. So go forth and produce something fantastic and beneficial for the animals in your life! Have fun printing!