3D modeling 3d printing open source programming

OpenSCAD parametric hook

Writing a script for a simple hook in OpenSCAD is easy but I wanted to do something more and make a parametric hook. With parametric I mean that a user can easily adjust the script by changing some variables to make your own hook.

To make it even easier the script makes use of the Customizer of OpenSCAD. This means that users don’t have to tinker with the code but can adjust the values of the variables with a easy to use panel on the right side of the GUI of OpenSCAD called the Customizer. (If you don’t see the Customizer in OpenSCAD go to the menu bar and click on Windows and then Customizer).

Aside from changing the dimensions I also added the possibility to add a fillet or a chamfer to the hook. And I added the option to change the radius of the hook and the diameter of the screw holes.

If you’re interested here is an explanation of some parts of the code. The fillet of the cube shaped parts of the hook is created with the fillet module. Within this module I simply intersect a cylinder with radius r1 and a cube of the desired length l.

module fillet(l,r1) {
    intersection() {
        cylinder(h=l, r=r1, $fn=50);

In the module roundedCube the thus created fillet pieces are positioned in a such a way that the hull command shapes them to the desired filleted cube.

module roundedCube(l,w,h,r1) {
    d = 2 * r1;
    hull() {
        rotate([0,0,180]) fillet(l,r1);
        translate([0,w-d,0]) rotate([0,0,90]) fillet(l,r1);
        translate([h-d,0,0]) rotate([0,0,270]) fillet(l,r1);
        translate([h-d,w-d,0]) rotate([0,0,0]) fillet(l,r1);

I published the OpenSCAD script (.scad) and some example hooks (.stl) on Prusaprinters. You can download it here:

3D modeling open source programming

OpenSCAD: Polygon and polyhedron

OpenSCAD allows the user to create complex shapes with the polygon function for 2D and polyhedron for 3D. Polygon and polyhedron both accept a list of 2D and 3D coordinates (points) respectively as parameters. A functions can generate a list of points eliminating the need to manually created these lists. This property can be used to create shapes that are impossible with the 2D and 3D shapes that are build-in in OpenSCAD. In this blog post I’ll show how to create functions for some simple 2D shapes and explain how to manipulate the functions make more complex shapes with them.

Shapes created with functions and polygon in OpenSCAD

Creating a 2D shape

To create a circle with a radius of 20 in OpenSCAD we just have to type


However OpenSCAD doesn’t allow us to reshape this build-in function to for instance an ellipse. Alternatively we can write a function that generates a list of points needed for a circle and then use polygon with the points as parameter to draw the circle. The function uses the trigonometric formulas, x = r cos φ and y = sin φ, to convert polar coordinates to Cartesian coordinates.

function circle(radius) = [for (phi = [1 : 1 : 360]) [radius * cos(phi), radius * sin(phi)]];

When F5 is pressed a circle is drawn however the x,y coordinates of this circle are available to us. By adding echo(circle(20)); to our script the list of points is printed in the console. The circle function can easily be altered thus gaining a new shape. An example is shown below.

function circle(radius) = [for (phi = [0 : 1 : 720]) [radius * cos(phi/2), radius * sin(phi)]];
color("red") polygon(circle(20));
Shape create with x = r cos(φ/2) and y = r sin(φ)

Now let’s take a look at the syntax of the function. Every function generates a value and in this case it is a list of points. In OpenSCAD a list of points in a two-dimensional space is represented by [[x1,y1],[x2,y2],[x3,y3],…] where all x’s and y’s are numbers. In this case of the circle function the point are generated in a for loop. The loop begin at 0 and ends at 720 with a step of 1. The radius * cos(phi/2) and radius * sin(phi) calculate each x,y coordinate for every given phi.

The ellipse, a generalization of the circle, can now easily be created by slightly changing our function.

function ellipse(r1, r2) = [for (theta = [0 : 1 : 360]) [r1 * cos(theta), r2 * sin(theta) ]];
color("cyan") polygon(ellipse(120,80));

a second parameter is added. r1 is the radius in the x-direction and r2 is the radius in the y-direction. If r1 is equal to r2 a circle is drawn.

Ellipse created with the code above


OpenSCAD allows the user to create complex 2D shapes using functions that generate lists of points This list is used as the argument in the polygon function of OpenSCAD. Every shape can be generated as long as the mathematical expressions are known and can be translated to OpenSCAD script. This opens up a world of possibilities.  The same is true for 3D shapes but instead of polygon the polyhedron function of OpenSCAD should be used. This however is a topic for a future blog entry.

Caveat: List comprehensions as shown in the functions of this  article are only possible with OpenSCAD v2015.03 and above.

OpenSCAD is open source (GPLv2 license) and is well maintained by Marius Kintel et al. Besides the stable releases for Windows, OSX and Linux, development snapshots are available. I recommend using these development snapshots since they have all the latest features. 

A special thanks to Xavier Faraudo who explained the advantages of functions in OpenSCAD to me.

Click here to watch the video if the video below doesn’t play: