Nov 16, 2015

3D Printed Badges for Anyone and Anything

I like the idea of giving out 3D Printed trinkets which are relevant for people - like a logo of the product they work on or a product they love - or a personalized keychain with their twitter handle.
A more specific way I've seen teachers use 3D Printed items is as a badge for achieving some goal or learning a new skill. This seemed like a good idea - but it's hard to design many different badges and achieving multi-color prints for nicer designs.

I created a badging platform that might help make this better.

The Model Design

A recent two-color logo design for Google Expeditions inspired me to create a simple first version of the 3D badgerizer. It was a simple start - a round platform with a connector, on top of which could be placed practically any small-sized icon which represented the achievement. The Google Expeditions logo itself was tweaked to use this design - and it could be a badge in it's own right.

I created two versions of the badge base - one which had an "inward" connector - that is a hole into which a badge icon could be connected, and one which had an "outey" - a post onto which a badge icon could be connected. I felt this second version would be used more, simply because it is easier to create an intended hole into the bottom of badges rather than a post on the bottom, since most models in 3D Printing need to have mostly flat bottoms to stay adhered to the print bed.

The First Test Badge

The first test to use the badge platform was of course a badge to represent the "spreadsheet achievement" - that could be given to someone who learned perhaps how to use spreadsheets or one of the many features of spreadsheets.

I took the old Google Spreadsheets logo I had and subtracted a perfectly shaped/measured rounded rectangle from the bottom center - which would serve as the receptacle for the post on the badge platform. It worked!

The Real Test

I told my 9 year old daughter about this "invention" - and asked her what sort of badge she thought her teacher might use.

She almost immediately answered "How about a pencil as a Writer's Badge?"

Brilliant! I quickly tried to model a tiny thick pencil with a flat bottom - and again pushed a rectangle shaped indent into the bottom so it can be mounted on the badge. This Writer's Badge came out pretty good - but the yellow coloring of the pencil was not as recognizable as I wanted so I used my Sharpie (tm) marker trick to fix that up ;)

Some New Badge Ideas

Now it's just a matter of coming up with new badge ideas to make these fun and practical. I've come up with some - including the Smile Badge, the the Pi Badge, the Algebra Badge, the Typing Badge - and of course a badge for every one of the Google Apps (since the logos are already done). If you've got ideas for badges, comment on this post and perhaps someone (maybe me) will create it and share it!

How To Make Your Own Badge

It's really simple actually - except that you might have to tweak the clearances for your specific printer and material being used. Generally, it's these steps:

1 - Figure out whether your badge object will be better suited to have an indent (mortise) in the back or an extrusion (tenon). If it can be printed upside down, a tenon is fine, if not, you most likely will want an indent.

2 - Make the indent in the back of the object by "subtracting" material in the dimensions needed (as described in the image above) or make the extrusion/tenon by attaching the tenon object (also as described above). The model file given at the end of this post has the correct mortise and tenon objects included.

3 - Do the opposite to the badge base - or use the correct base I provided in the model file below.

4 - Print a test base and test object to see if the fit works. Don't be afraid to add a bit of glue once the pair is connected to make sure they stay connected. Tweak the dimensions if you need to get a tighter fit or need more clearance to get the parts to connect.

The Badge Model Template

You can find my badge model template described here uploaded on PinShape.
Please comment here with your experience if you try to use this model!


  1. Fantastic, Jonathan! Thank you! One suggestion, in the downloadable file on PinShape, the Mortise or Tenon is 'floating' in the air and thus won't print, can you revise the file so both are flat with the other pieces? That'd be great!

  2. OH - +Kevin, that's a great point! Those parts aren't meant to be printed - those are actually the correctly-sized parts to attach to the part with the tenon, or subtract from the part with the mortise. Not exactly clear, I know. I'll update the model as soon as I get a chance to separate those from the main printable badge bases. THANKS!

    1. Badge STL files posted on PinShape are now updated... link in the post is still good - but there are multiple STLs.