Rethinking the Flower Vase with SolidWorks and an Objet 3D Printer

Article by Ted Lee updated May 30, 2013


As a first year industrial design student at Carleton University I was tasked with a culminating project of redesigning a common household accessory; the flower vase. Although the project was mainly an exploration into the form and colour development of a common object, I wanted to use the project as an opportunity to rethink and improve the user experience of a vase.

Ideation of a vase

Ideation for a new vase

From my experience the main problem that exists with current vases arises when attempting to fill the vase with water. The vertical dimension of vases is often too high to fill in an average household sink. I wanted to create a vase with a dynamic form that could easily be filled in almost any sink, no matter how shallow the sink basin. After working through the design process (sketches, mock-ups, and user testing) I decided upon a final design.

Vase Rendering

Vase Rendering

Using SolidWorks CAD software and the Stratasys Objet500 Connex 3D printer I was able to create a high fidelity, durable, working prototype. Having a prototype allowed me to validate all aspects of my design, providing me with valuable ergonomic and human factor related feedback CAD wouldn’t be able to provide.

Since the Stratasys Connex 500 has the ability to print digital ABS Photopolymer I was able to simulate the material properties of standard ABS plastic by fabricating a vase that could withstand high level impacts and high temperatures. These properties allowed for an exceptionally durable prototype that could be tested against the extremes.

The PolyJet printer also allowed the best material properties to produce water-tight parts. FDM models will leak through their tiny voids and “powder” processes (Z-corp etc.) will leak and/or dissolve when the print material comes in contact with water. Therefore the Connex 500 PolyJet printer was the best choice; allowing me to produce a functional, testable model, taking my prototype to the next level.


3D Printed Vase

The Finished Vase 3D Printed

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Ted Lee