A few months ago I traded my tiny Kia Forte in for a Dodge Grand Caravan with the dream of fulfilling my bucket list travel adventures in a converted van on an epic journey of awesome! A few months ago, I also got my very first 3D printer of my own and began a journey of setting it up and learning to use it to make fun things for my road trips, starting with my very own Traveling Bernie in Mittens.
Now that I am really starting to get my van build together, I am discovering all kinds of things that I want to 3D print on my Ultimaker S3 as well as laser cut to decorate with and also help to keep my tiny space organized and more comfortable. First up, 3D printed seatback hooks!
I am a huge fan of upcycling and I had spent a good 3 weeks scouring all of the thrift stores in our area in hopes of finding one of those seatback organizers with pockets and pouches to store things but realized that even if I did find one, I wouldn’t be happy with it because I HATE clutter. I decided it would be a better fit for me to find some used bags and hang them from the seat instead. so that the items are contained and I don’t have to deal with an eyesore while being confined to a tiny living space.
I found a few seatback hook options online that I could have ordered for around $4 plus a few dollars for shipping but then realized that I could just download a free STL file from Duke_S on Thingiverse and ask my Ultimaker S3 to print it out for me while I slept.
Why 3D Print Instead of Buy?
I know I could have just had seatback hooks that were already made in a factory somewhere shipped to my house, but in the long run, 3D printing not only saved me a few dollars, but it also reduced my carbon footprint. I spent $3.20 on the materials to make them right in my own home instead of having someone ship them in packaging that isn’t always recyclable and producing waste that would eventually end up in a landfill.
With 3D printing, I also reduced the need to have someone drive them all the way to my house out in the middle of nowhere for something I could easily make at home.
Choosing the Right Material for the Seatback Hooks
While I am new to 3D printing as a maker, I do know that basic PLA material would not work well for anything I want to make that will be staying in my van full time. I live in the Pacific Northwest where it rains quite often and doesn’t tend to get too hot in the summer, but when it does, the van will get pretty toasty inside. I want to make sure that whatever I have made, won’t melt or end up misshapen due to high temperatures in the summer when the van gets hot sitting in the sun all day.
For these hooks, I used the colorFabb HT material.
3D Printed Seatback Hooks for Vanlife | Video
Head on over to our Youtube channel to watch the video and make sure to subscribe to follow along on my van build adventures over the next few months! We will be sharing my process, testing some different materials and seeing if some of my ideas will actually even work! It should be fun and I hope you join me!
What’s Next for the Van Build?
As I spend more time camping and going on road trips, I am discovering things that I can 3D print or laser cut that would make van life a little easier.
Next up, I am going to make myself a sturdy shelf with my FLUX beamo laser cutter so I can have a solid space to set my lantern, my blue tooth speaker and my solar-powered battery chargers onto. I will also be creating a bracket to hold up a privacy curtain between the front seats and the back so that I can put up a black-out curtain for some stealth camping I have planned for in the summer.
I will be creating a laser-cut side table to attach to my bed frame, a custom decorative cover for my laundry bin and much more so please make sure you follow along on my vanlife journey on our Youtube channel and check out the playlist of my Vanbuild projects!
If you want to see where I am traveling and how I am building out my van, please feel free to follow along on my Traveling Dork adventures as well! I will be visiting all kinds of places around the Pacific Northwest this summer and crossing off some of my bucket list destinations along the way!