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  • Writer's picturePete

Designing a 3D Printed Paint Pyramid

This is a simple project to get started with using Fusion 360 and 3D printing something useful. I use these supports for all sorts of finishing: spray paint, oiling cutting boards, lacquer, and polyurethane - anytime you've got to finish all sides and keep the workpiece off the table.

3D printed painters pyramid
Paint Pyramid finishing: spray paint, oiling cutting boards, lacquer and polyurethane

There are a lot of designs for these paint pyramids out there, but I opted for designing my own for a few reasons. Mostly, a lot of the designs out there have a square base, like the actual pyramids in Egypt. These are a little more stable but have to be oriented with the square base downward or they end up at different heights. My design has an equilateral triangle as the base and is a true tetrahedron shape. All the edges are the same length and there is no 'bottom' so using them to support your work is easier.

Useful for all types of finishing: paint, oil, lacquer, and polyurethane

Building the model in Fusion 360 is very simple, with just a few steps to complete. The only critical dimension is the taper angle during extrusion, in Step 4. Everything else is up to you and is easily scaled to make a bigger or smaller support.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Create a new component

  2. Sketch an equilateral triangle, I used 25mm

  3. Extrude the shape with a taper angle of -19.47 degrees

  4. Chamfer all edges by 1mm

  5. Save your file and export to Cura

Starting a sketch in Fusion360
Starting a sketch in Fusion360

Begin by right-clicking and creating a new component. Then start a sketch on the XY plane. Using the line tool, draw a triangle. Size and shape don't matter now, we'll clean that up. Using the 'Equal' constraint, set all three lines equal. This creates an equilateral triangle without using numerical constraints on the angles. Finally, right-click on one of the lines and add a dimension. I used 25mm, or about 1 inch. This will set the overall size of your paint pyramid. Click 'Stop Sketch' to exit.

Extruding a Sketch with a Taper in Fusion360
Extruding a Sketch with a Taper in Fusion360

Now, we'll turn that 2D sketch into a 3D model. Click on 'Extrude' and select the triangle-shaped sketch. Looking at the 'Edit Feature' dialog box we have a few options. Distance will change how long the extrusion is. For this model, as long as you enter a value greater than 25mm, you'll get a perfect tetrahedron. The critical dimension is the Taper Angle. The value we need to make a tetrahedron is the inverse cosine of (-1/3) or acos((-1) / 3) = 109.471221 degrees. Enter -19.47 into the taper angle.

Chamfering edges in Fusion360
Chamfering edges in Fusion360

Finally, clean up the edges. I find adding a small chamfer or fillet on the outside corners makes for a better 3D print. Without the chamfer, the printer pauses at the corners and over-extrudes a small bulge on the outside faces of the corner. Click 'Modify' and add a 1mm chamfer to all six edges.

My design has an equilateral triangle as the base, and is a true tetrahedron shape; equal on all sides.

DIY 3D Printed Painter's Pyramids
DIY 3D Printed Painter's Pyramids

That's it, save your model and export it to Cura or whatever slicing software you prefer. I printed these in PLA, with a layer height of 0.13mm, a shell thickness of 1.2mm, and 0% infill. The benefit of this design is that it is self-supporting, so you don't need any infill to produce a high-quality and strong print.

I've posted the STL files for download Here.

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