Coat Hook (inspired by Dr. Adrian Bowyer)

Contributed by
Frankie Flood

Duration: One week including research, drawing, test printing and final printing.
Level: Beginner

Your assignment is to design a coat hook that can be printed via the Rep Rap based additive manufacturing 3D printer. You will be designing the coat hook on paper first, then converting it into a 3D Rhino model, then an .stl file, and finally a printed artifact that represents your design.The coat hook will be documented via each step of the process and then digital files of the coat hook will be uploaded to YouMagine complete with documentation, and explanation of your design, as well as instructions on printing it.

Note: the RepRap printer prefers objects that have a flat parallel surface on at least one side(although support systems can be added to allow for uneven surfaces, surface quality will suffer)and undercuts can be difficult for the printer to deal with. You must be creative in your orientation of the model when printing to assure a quality print. You are responsible for creating a good design that allows for quality prints. Keep this in mind as you design.

Project Rationale

Customization is a large field of business, ranging from low-cost custom designed t-shirts to the customizable interior of a luxury car. Even though designers are trained to develop aesthetically and functionally satisfying products, the sector of customizable products is growing with every new product that is released by large companies (example: the release of the iPad has fueled the development of many accessories that customize the iPad). The level of technology in digital fabrication is becoming more and more sophisticated and the price of the equipment keeps dropping. Since the first commercially available 3D printer was released in 1988 by 3D Systems, the technology has advanced and it is possible to by a DIY 3D printer kit for under $1000. The term digital fabrication is publicized as the next step towards fabricating your own products in your home and customizing them to fit your own needs. This new technology could change the whole way in which products are designed, manufactured and sold. Eventually, digital fabrication might change the way we consume products in the future as well as change the way designers work.

The website YouMagine is a community based platform to share digital files, designed specifically to be fabricated using a 3D printer or other digital fabrication equipment. Users can upload any project, as long as they are responsible for the creation. The simple interface and principle has attracted a large group of active users. The website is created and supported by Ultimaker, which is a popular manufacturer of 3D printers. Most of the active users seem to be owner of a Ultimaker or RepRap and they use this website to distribute useful add- ons which increase the functionality and usability of their 3D printer. The objects that are shared range from small toys over usable products like a watering spout for a standard plastic bottle. A large number of these products solve very specific and unique needs, like for example a special building block that connects the popular LEGO toys system with a wooden toy train set, or a special clip holds an insulin pen and attaches it to the A/C vent of a car. Although this website is clearly open source focused, it is an example on how 3D printers can become part of everybody’s daily life.

Dr. Adrian Bowyer of the University of Bath in the UK started the RepRap project in 2004. RepRap is an initiative to develop a 3D printer that can print most of its own components. RepRap (short for replicating rapid prototyper) uses a variant of Fused Filament Fabrication, an additive manufacturing technique. One of the first objects that he designed and printed on his 3D printer was a coat hook. In the spirit of this historic event you are to engage in the act of designing and creating a printable coat hook.

Keep in mind that many of the items that you see in the DIY community have not been created by people with design, art, or craft background. Your knowledge of the elements and principles of design as well as knowledge of material, function, and use and experience of objects is invaluable to this assignment. You are expected to create a coat hook that is superior to those which you find in the DIY community both in terms of function and design.


  • To create an original, functional form (coat hook) via 3D printing.To create a coat hook that is visually interesting as well as functional.
  • To incorporate a method of connection to the wall, ledge, shelf that is inventive and integral to the overall form.
  • To create an object that meets YOUR needs as the designer and fabricator.
  • To capitalize on the possibilities that the technology allows in the design of your coat hook.
  • To examine the current state for custom design and fabrication technology.
  • To examine the possibilities the limitations of these processes.
  • To examine how can we integrate design capabilities into the process of digital fabrication and thus shift the position of the designer/artist to be the architect of a digital fabrication process.
  • To examine whether digital fabrication technology has the potential to disrupt the traditional constellation of consumer, designer/artist, distributor and manufacturer.

As you are making, think about methods in which this technology will alter the current model of business practice of designers/ artists. The main goal of this assignment and course is to grasp the complex influence digital fabrication will have on the designer, artist, and craftsman, but also in connection with the surrounding society.


Processes used will include 3D modeling (using Rhino), exporting files to .stl format, capturing screen shots, documenting the design and digital fabrication process, slicing models (using Slic3r), 3D printing (using Pronterface), 3D printing on a RepRap based printer, documenting work (using YouMagine). You will be required to demonstrate an understanding of these techniques in the piece.


This class is partially about function. Research coat hooks. As creators, invent something new rather than re-creating what has already been done before.

Bring at least 5 Xeroxes and 10 drawings of coat hook or hook based forms that appeal to you for review. Remember that research is part of your grade as a way to make informed and thoughtful design decisions. Make simple tag board models to help convey your designs.

Adrian’s coat hook:
Thingiverse coat hook search


You will print 4 of the same coat hook for your final.
Two of the coat hooks will belong to the DCRL (Digital Craft Research Lab) for use in the lab and to serve as examples.
You are to document each step in the process:

  • Hand drawn designs (scanned or digital image)
  • Screen shots (.jpg format) from Rhino of your proposed hook
  • A basic rendered .jpg image from Rhino
  • An STL file of the coat hook a digital image of the hook installed (no coat present)
  • A digital image of the hook in use (with coat)
  • Upload of your coat hook YouMagine
  • Document on DCRL YouMagine site (see YouMagine assignment)