3D Printing a Utility Truck Cup Holder

by Chase Hook

Problem: Utility truck cup holder removed for CB radio

The GoEngineer team works like a close-knit family.  When someone is in need of something, there are always people raising their hands to help.  This was the case when one of my co-workers came to me with a question about designing a cup holder for his brother’s work truck.

The truck was modified and no longer had a cup holder in the front seat. We all know this can lead to a mess and spills.  The gentleman in need of the cup holder is very handy so he made a cardboard representation of what was needed to get a jump start on the project. He designed it so the middle console lid would close on the two hangers to secure it allowing the bottom to sit on the seat to support the weight of the cups.

Top view of the installation area

Plan of attack:

  • Measure cardboard mock-up and make rough design layout
  • Design new cup holder using SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software
  • 3D print prototype for test fitment using Stratasys Fortus 450mc
  • 3D print modified design and install in truck

Measure cardboard mock-up and make rough design layout.

The first step in the design process was to measure the cardboard mock-up of the cup holder. We accomplished this using basic digital calipers and a ruler to hand sketch a rough layout of the design.  This step in the design process streamlines the workflow when we move to the SOLIDWORKS CAD software for the 3D modeling portion of the project.  We came up with a few different ideas and decided on a design that was very similar to the mock-up.  The only difference was the mockup was one solid piece and we made the final design in four separate pieces.  This decision was made to save cost on 3D printing materials. This also allowed us to make the cup holder modular so if something didn’t quite fit right we could redesign and reprint a small portion instead of the entire part.

Design cup holder using SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software

Now for the fun part!  Using SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software and the rough layout the client and I came up with, I was able to quickly design the cupholder.  The design ended up being four solid bodies that could be 3D printed individually just in case something didn’t line up during the test fitment.  The arms are connected to the main body with ¼” – 20 countersink bolts with serrated lock nuts.  We made the top portion that holds the cups in place a separate piece in case he had a non-standard cup size.  The would allow us to fit any size cup in the holder without any issues.  The hangers have cutouts on different geometry on each side so it would fit the contours of the inside of the middle console.

3D Print prototype for test fitment

The next step in the design process was to 3D print the prototype for test fitment.  We have access to multiple Stratasys 3D printers here at GoEngineer. For this print, we decided the Fortus 450mc was perfect for this job due to the larger size of the parts.  We thought that the base and the top portion of the cupholder would fit perfectly.  However, I was worried about the hangers fitting on the first version because of the flexibility of the cardboard mock-up.

Our concerns were justified.  The hangers were too thick and didn’t allow the middle console to shut.  Also, the left side of the middle console is more shallow than right so the left side needed to be shortened.  Looking back on this, making the decision to design the cup holder in multiple pieces already paid off. Because of the change required, we would have had to reprint the entire cup holder which would cost valuable time and money.

3D Print modified hangers and install

The last step in the design process was to reprint the hangers that we redesigned to fit properly.  The two hangers took approximately eleven hours to print. I sent the files to the printer before I left the office one evening.  The very next day we had a completed cup holder that fits perfectly in the utility truck.  The picture below shows a great representation of the design process.  It’s amazing how relatively simple and quick it was to take a conceptual cardboard mock-up and bring it to life – all by using SOLIDWORKS and Stratasys technology.

The following pictures show the front and back of the cup holder with the hangers and fasteners installed.  The final version of the cup holder will need to be painted to match the interior of the truck.

The final version of the 3D printed cup holder fit in the truck perfectly.  The picture below shows the cup holder installed.  The client is now able to have three items in the utility truck while working. He no longer has to worry about spilling food and drinks on important equipment or documents.




This entry was posted in 3D Printing, blog, CAD and tagged on by .
Chase Hook

About Chase Hook

Chase Hook is a graduate of the University of Utah’s Mechanical Engineering program and works in the Technical Support Department at GoEnigneer. He has an automotive engineering background with 5+ years of 3D design/scanning/printing experience. He is very passionate about the cutting edge engineering technology that he gets the opportunity to work with every day at GoEnigneer. In his free time, he enjoys the great outdoors including snowboarding, wakeboarding, camping, and world travel.

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