Design of the Week: Milk Crate

 Miniature 3D printed milk crates [Source: Reddit]
Miniature 3D printed milk crates [Source: Reddit]

This week’s selection is the functional Milk Crate by designer Ross Thomas.

What is this object? It’s literally a milk crate, identical to those you might see in a grocery store. Except for one thing: it’s quite a bit smaller.


In the grocery scenario, such crates carry milk jugs, but very often the crates themselves become surplus and find their way into homes and offices to become standard, stackable storage containers.

How small is this crate? The default STL for this object is only 13mm width and depth, so it is very small. At that size it would be tremendously challenging to 3D print the extremely thin structures that make up the walls, and even if you did they would be quite fragile. This would render the crate pretty much useless as a practical container.

 Miniature 3D printed milk crates [Source: Thingiverse]
Miniature 3D printed milk crates [Source: Thingiverse]

However, through the magic of 3D modeling software, it’s easily made bigger. This would certainly make 3D printing much more straightforward, although there are some concerns about the amount of stringing you’d generate with all the stops and starts required to make the grid-like walls. This will require some careful 3D print parameter tuning.

If you don’t resize the milk crate, it’s possible your slicing program may even ignore the very thin wall structures entirely, as they may be too small to print on your device.


 3D printing miniature 3D printed milk crates [Source: Reddit]
3D printing miniature 3D printed milk crates [Source: Reddit]

A tricky aspect to 3D printing this item is the type of support structures generated. If too many, especially when automatically generated, it may make it very difficult to remove them without damaging the milk crate. It’s best in this case to use the absolute minimum amount of supports you can get away with.

Once successfully 3D printed, however, the milk crate acts just like a milk crate. You can even stack them, as shown here:

 Miniature 3D printed milk crates stacked together [Source: Reddit]
Miniature 3D printed milk crates stacked together [Source: Reddit]

Another option is to make them with different sizes to accommodate a variety of storage applications. I could even see this being printed in large size that might even fill an entire build volume on some devices.

The milk crate: ideal for your desk. Print many.

Via Thingiverse and Reddit

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