Best Material For Bird Fountain?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by davidhunternyc, Mar 23, 2020.

  1. Hello,

    This is my first post on Shapeways. I have a project that I've been working on for a year. I live in NYC and I've been feeding birds on my fire escape. I've attracted blue jays, downy woodpeckers, goldfinches, and house finches. All of them are beautiful birds and they bring joy to my life. Simple pleasures.

    Besides feeding these birds I also want to provide fresh water for them. Every water fountain I've seen online is a plug-in water fountain and being that my fountain is outside on a fire escape I can not use a corded fountain. Recently I commissioned a ceramicist to custom make for me a water fountain that runs on lithium batteries. (See photo below.) The biggest challenge was to make this water fountain double-walled and insulated so in the hot summer months, with an ice pack, I can keep water cool for the birds.

    As successful as this project was there are improvements to the design that can be made. The fountain is very heavy and being that it is handmade there were limitations to the preciseness and tolerances of the design. With 3D modeling and printing I can design a fountain in a way that is impossible to build by hand with clay. But first things first...

    There are many different types of materials on Shapeways. I am hoping that you experts out there would suggest a material for me to use. Here are the requirements:

    1) Most importantly, the material must be inert and not leach chemicals. The water needs to stay fresh and clean and not poison the birds.
    2) The material should be somewhat heat resistant.
    3) The material should be strong like ceramic but, if possible, not as brittle as ceramic.
    4) The material should be light weight so that the finished fountain could be hung from a tree or a balcony rail.
    5) The material should be attractive, perhaps resembling stone.

    Before I model the bird fountain I need to also know, what is the largest size these printers can handle for the chosen material? Also, what are the limitations in terms of thinness and thickness for the chosen material? If there is anything I am overlooking please let me know.

    Your help is greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 23, 2020
  2. Model_Monkey
    Model_Monkey Well-Known Member
    Generally, the printers for most materials are limited in size to objects much smaller than the birdbath shown in your photo. The 3D printer that prints objects in a material called "white versatile plastic" (which is nylon) can print an object as large as about 26 inches x 13 inches x 21 inches.

    You can learn more about the various materials Shapeways offers here:

    Click on the material page. The tab for "material info" will open. You'll then see a tab for "design guidelines". Click that tab to learn more about the largest size an object can be printed in that material. That workable area in the printer is called the "bounding box". Your object has to fit inside the bounding box in order to be printed.

    Hope this helps.
  3. SemperVaporo
    SemperVaporo Well-Known Member
    Note that some materials, while not really like a sieve, are not "water tight" either. You might need to coat the water side surface with something to make it water tight.

    And something large is going to be a price shock... move your sofa away from the wall to make it easier to retrieve your socks when you see the price and it blows your socks clean off!