We have various soaps next to the kitchen sink, and I noticed that as a result, the sink area was always wet, which led to mold growth. To address this problem, I tried building a drainage rack out of wood, which I hoped would allow the water to dry and prevent the growth of mold. I’m not sure whether it was helping with the mold, but it turned out to have another problem: the wood itself produced brown stains on the counter.
It seemed that for this project, I needed a different material. I envisioned something with holes in the top and a sloping drainage tray to send water back to the sink. Shapeways offered a 3D printed ceramic material that is dishwasher safe and food safe. It seemed ideal. So I started designing in SketchUp. SketchUp is easy to use for lots of things, but I found it tricky for this task. Arranging the holes in the top proved tricky, tedious, and hard to change once it was done. The printed object will be nicer with rounded corners and edges, but SketchUp is not very good with rounding over corners. But eventually I got a model done and submitted it to Shapeways.
It was rejected because the walls of the design were too thin somewhere. After resolving that problem my design got rejected because it wasn’t adequately supported. But the exact nature of the support I needed remained elusive as I tried to redesign the model to comply with their vague requirements. Then the ceramic material got discontinued entirely.
Months later I was admitted to the Shapeways pilot project for a new porcelain material. I had to reduce the size of my model to make it printable, but the only hitch I had was failing to meet a minimum size requirement. So finally, I was able to make the print.
My original design was a two piece ceramic structure with a drainage tray in the base and a top that lift off for cleaning. This was quite expensive, so in a quest to lower the price, I devised a design with a single ceramic part and a slit to hold a drainage tray. I ordered a piece of white plastic from McMaster and cut it to size to fit into the slot.
The result is functional and reasonable looking. I was a little disappointed by the way the glaze looked: I was expecting a more uniform deep green color. The long unsupported top span sagged a little bit during fabrication, but this doesn’t affect its function. The rack has stood up to a couple months of use and has definitely improved the sink area.